Social Phobia: From Shyness to Stage Fright


"Everyone feels shy or nervous occasionally, but for millions of Americans even signing a check or eating a sandwich in public evokes enormous anxiety, often leading these people to withdraw entirely from social contact. Long neglected by psychologists, social phobia has now been dubbed the "disorder of the decade." This important book, with its moving case histories, proves that this cruel condition need not doom a person to a life sentence of loneliness and despair. In his ten years of practice in an anxiety disorders clinic, John R. Marshall has been a pioneer in recognizing and treating social phobia. Now he presents a vivid portrait of the disorder in all its many manifestations, from a paralyzing fear of eye contact to fear of shopping. The book shows social phobia's effects on the lives of sufferers, ranging from people who are living desperately lonely and limited lives to seemingly successful people who are expending enormous energy to mask their secret fears: professional performers like Sir Laurence Olivier, Carly Simon, and Vladimir Horowitz, who, amazingly, suffered from stage fright... a brilliant physics student unable to finish her doctorate because she couldn't do an oral presentation... a neurologist who couldn't sleep and had to fortify himself with alcohol in anticipation of his wife's weekly dinner parties... an elderly widow who passed up a chance for a new relationship when she couldn't use the bathroom with her suitor in the house... a young girl who left high school to become a housecleaner because of her intense shyness. According to Marshall, social phobia is one of the most effectively treated problems psychiatrists see, with most patients showing substantial improvement relatively quickly. In this book, Marshall explains how to distinguish social phobia from other problems, such as depression or panic disorder; when to worry about a young child who seems more than "a little shy" or an older child who appears to be "dropping out" or passing up opportunities; when alcoholism or drug abuse may be an attempt to alleviate social phobia when to seek professional help; treatment options, including behavior and drug therapy. In addition, the author examines the biological roots of social phobia, tracing the disorder to neurophysiologic programming related to the genetic tendencies cause separation and stranger anxiety in infants. The book also shows how social phobia may be inherited and then made worse in families, with even very young children picking up cues from an anxious or overprotective parent." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1994