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Social Phobia

Posted by on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, 15:07
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Human beings are fundamentally social animals. For most of us, social ostracism, rejection, and public humiliation are as much to be feared and avoided as animal bites, falling from high places, or being trapped in a smothering cave. This leads to the paradox that some people are so afraid of being embarrassment in front of others that they avoid the very situation that are so important to a complete life, Social Phobia.

In the most common form of Social Phobia , the social anxiety is circumscribed and confined to a fear about performance in very specific types of interpersonal activities for social situations. The person functions perfectly well so long as these situations can be successfully avoided. Probably the most common fear is of public speaking.

The mere prospect of being called on in class or making a presentation at work is enough to cause a cold seat. You are terrified of the public humiliation that will result from exposure of your flaws, missteps, or inadequacies. You may say something ignorant, foolish, trembling, or sweating or become frozen stiff by the paralyzing fear.

The negative effects of intense anxiety on performance can lead to a vicious cycle  that serve  to perpetuate the problem. For example, a salesman loses his train of thought because he is anxious during an important presentation, blows his punch line, and finally has to sit down feeling humiliated and foolish.

The next time he is called upon to give a similar presentation, he is preoccupied with worries that he will mess up once more, over prepares and over hearses, and become so tight that he is likely again to lose his concentration and get flustered.

Other common circumscribed performances fears include using a public rest room while others are present, laying a musical instrument in a concert, being observed while working, signing your name in public, or eating in a restaurant.  It is the prospect of being under the watchful eyes of others that is paralyzing, not the activity itself. So long as there is no audience, you can comfortably give a speech in front of a mirror or can effortlessly perform a piano piece.

Sometimes, Social Phobia is much more generalized. The fear is triggered not just by one specific performance situation but instead is a more general response to any type of social interaction. You miss school or work because you can’t face the people, avoid asking someone out on a date, and will not go to a party unless all of the other guested are people you already know.

According to the diagnostic manual, you have Social Phobia if;

  • You are afraid of being humiliated in social situations or when forming an act in public.
  • You try your best to avoid social or performance situations and are extremely nervous or have a panic attack you are stuck in them
  • Your avoidance of social situations significantly impairs your life.
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