Social Phobia: From Shyness to Stage Fright

Social Phobia: From Shyness to Stage Fright

Social Phobia: From Shyness to Stage Fright

Social Phobia: From Shyness to Stage Fright

Synopsis

"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

Excerpt

About ten years ago, a colleague of mine asked me to assist him in running an anxiety disorders clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, where I taught. I am a general psychiatrist and professor, and up to that point most of my clinical teaching and research had been focused on what is called consultation-liaison psychiatry. This subspecialty, dealing primarily with the relationship between medical illness and psychiatric conditions or symptoms, is exciting and often dramatic. I worked with very sick patients--for example, people on dialysis units or organ-transplant recipients--and was often challenged to sort through their medical and psychiatric histories to track the origins of bizarre and mysterious symptoms. Needless to say, the work was continually engaging, and I was not entirely sure I wanted to add anything more to my professional plate. Besides, anxiety-related conditions had never been a major focus of psychiatry, and I had not had much clinical experience.

Not that anxiety was unknown in my work--it was ever present for psychiatric patients, and cropped up constantly in their descriptions of symptoms. Anxiety manifested itself in a range of ways--sweating, nausea, increased heart and breathing rates, agitated thinking, shaky hands, weakness in the joints, sleepless-

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