A phobia is an insistent and irrational fear of an object, situation, or activity (APA, 2013). Some people suffer risky anxiety when they should interact with other people, viewing each interaction as a possible opportunity to be analyzed by others. Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is noticeable by a pronounced fear of humiliation or embarrassment in the presence of others, or serve self-consciousness about one’s appearance, behavior, or both. Consider the case of “Betty,” who doesn’t like going to the Wal-Mart: She would not ask anyone working there where to find an item, out of fear that she might look as if she is stupid for not being able to find it herself. She is concerned that her voice might tremor when forced to say the necessary “hello” to the cashier. This would make her seem imprudent and everybody would stare at her foolishness.
Fear like Betty’s can be paralyzing, making it very hard to go out in public situations, even though in most cases the person recognizes that these fears are irrational. Unfortunately, the high degree of anxious arousal produced by social phobia may lead the person to act very nervously and thus, in a self-fulfilling way, exhibit behaviors that do indeed attract other’s people’s attention.
Featured Image Artwork by Penelope Rock Hopper
Sources: Psychology: Evaluating Connections