I learned about the term reactance after some research, what wasn't as obsessive in the description as I had observed with some people in the past. Still made a very good point in describing the behavior and its triggers I was looking for.

Just coincidentally I learned a few days later about pathological demand avoidance. And while I understand it that way, that the former is more like a behavior everyone is driven by, to different strong extends. And the latter having additional symptoms beside this leading to more obsessive behavior and generally an more present impact than what I understand reactance to be like. But focusing on the core, I wonder what they are different in, if anything. As both boil down to feeling resistant to choose options you feel being obligated to choose.

So is PDA actually just a strong form of reactance reinforced by possibly other (autistic) traits? Or do they have a distinct difference in their core definition of affecting someone?


1 Answer 1


So, reactance seems to be specific to things that are attempting to alters one's autonomy or choices. PDA is when our brain sees any action we are trying to take as a danger, so it makes us avoid that action by any means possible. PDA is our brain trying to keep us safe from perceived harm. With PDA, demands can be anything, including things that trigger reactance, but also things we want to do such as hobbies, and our basic bodily needs such as eating and sleeping. PDA itself can actually cause reactance because we feel unable to have control over what we do, we can feel powerless against our demand avoidance. It's not the demand itself that causes reactance for PDAers, but our PDA which won't let us do these demands.


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