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Emotional Avoidance

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Updated August 18, 2008

Definition:

Refers to any action designed to prevent the occurrence of or to stop feeling an uncomfortable emotion, such as fear, sadness, or shame. For example, a person may try to avoid an emotion through the use of substances or dissociation.

Emotional avoidance is often considered an unhealthy coping strategy. It may be effective in the short-run and provide some temporary relief. However, in the long run, the emotions people are trying to avoid may actually grow stronger. That is, unless dealt with, those emotions don't really go away.

Emotional avoidance is a common unhealthy coping strategy used by people with PTSD.

Also Known As: avoidance, emotional escape, emotional suppression, experiential avoidance
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