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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10547
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Hi, my 19 year old son is away at college (hes a sophomore)

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Hi, my 19 year old son is away at college (he's a sophomore) approximately 45 minutes from home. From what we can tell, except for going to classes and meals, he spends every minute in his dorm room drawing (he's an art major). He doesn't have any friends and doesn't participate in any college activities. We're worried about his anti-social behavior. Should we be?

Dr. Z :

Hello

Dr. Z :

I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I can understand your concern about your son and his asocial behavior.

Dr. Z :

May I ask, in high school how did your son behave and interact with others?

Customer: He's always been a bit awkward socially but in high school he participated in the drama club and really enjoyed it. He seems to be happy whenever we see him but we're still concerned.
Dr. Z :

I would like to ask you a few questions about your son, so that I can get some more information and better assist you

Dr. Z :

How does your son take to criticism? Is he very sensitive to it?

Customer: I don't think so. He's self-critical - doesn't want us to see his art work because it's "not good enough" - but I don't think he's overly sensitive to criticism from others.
Dr. Z :

Okay, does he express a desire to make more friends or not?

Customer: No. He occasionally will see high school friends socially but he seems to fairly comfortable in his own skin, so to speak.
Dr. Z :

And when he interacts with others, does he have a difficult time understand other people's emotions and sarcasm?

Customer: No. In fact, he's always been very empathetic. Likes going out with family, but doesn't want to take a family vacation to Lake Tahoe because there's nothing there that interests him, he says.
Dr. Z :

And the last question, when in a social situation that he may feel uncomfortable with, has he ever had extreme anxiety or even a panic attack?

Customer: Nope.
Customer: We just worry that he's missing out on life by being a shut-in, so to speak.
Dr. Z :

I can see why you are worried, but it appears that there are two possibilities for his behavior and neither are that serious. The one I am really leaning to is that his temperament is more introverted and he prefers solitary activities and being alone with his own thoughts. The other possibility is that he has some traits of Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD), but I do not think this is the case as he does not appear to be sad or avoiding others for fear and can spend time with others if he chooses, but he chooses not to

Dr. Z :

Still with not being as social in college it could have an effect on future social and intimate relationships where he may be deficient

Customer: Prefers solitary activities and being alone with his own thoughts describes him perfectly.
Dr. Z :

This just means that in the future he may have a harder time to form social relationships with others, but he may not want to and instead may only want to form small and few social attachments.

Dr. Z :

You say he is very empathetic and I am sure he gets along with everyone, he just appears shy and that may be the case. But if he is happy with what he is doing and can still converse with others in a meaningful manner, then I think he will be just fine

Customer: So we should let him be, you think? Or what should we do?
Dr. Z :

I think you can let him be for now, but encourage him to do joint projects with others in his class or go to parties/get togethers for himself

Dr. Z :

I would not push him and it sounds like he is just an introvert by nature, but this is not harming him psychologically at all

Customer: Will do. Thanks for the help.
Dr. Z :

Anytime, is there anything else I can assist you with?

Customer: Thanks,
Customer: I think that will do.
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