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Specific social phobia

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Mental health professionals often distinguish between generalized social phobia and specific social phobia.[1] People with generalized social phobia have great distress in a wide range of social situations. Those with specific social phobia may experience anxiety only in a few situations.[1] The term "specific social phobia" may also refer to specific forms of non-clinical social anxiety.

The most common symptoms of specific social phobia are glossophobia, the fear of public speaking and the fear of performance, known as stage fright. Other examples of specific social phobia include fears of writing or eating in public, using public restrooms (paruresis), attending social gatherings, and dealing with authorities.

Specific social phobia may be classified into performance fears and interaction fears, i.e., fears of acting in social setting and interacting with other people, respectively.

Prevalence and distribution

In the past, when the prevalence was estimated by sampling the psychiatric clinical cases, social phobia was thought to be a rare disorder. It is now recognized that this way of estimating is inappropriate, because people with social phobia rarely seek psychiatric help by the very nature of their disorder. A more reliable source used now is community surveys.[2]

Various surveys show that the syndrome of glossophobia is the most prevalent type. An article based on a National Comorbidity Survey reported that 1/3 people with lifetime social phobia suffered from glossophobia[3] Another survey of a community sample from a Canadian city reported that of people who believed being anxious in one or several social situations 55% feared speaking to a large audience, 25% feared speaking to a small group of familiar people, 23% feared dealing with authority, 14.5% feared social gatherings, 14% feared speaking to strangers, 7% feared eating and 5% feared writing in public.[4]

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Crozier, W. Ray; Alden, Lynn E. International Handbook of Social Anxiety: Concepts, Research, and Interventions Relating to the Self and Shyness. New York John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. (UK), 2001. ISBN 0-471-49129-2.
  2. M. B. Stein and J. M. Gorman, "Unmasking social anxiety disorder", J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2001 May; 26(3): 185–189.
  3. Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., Murray B. Stein, M.D., and Patricia Berglund, M.B.A. Social Phobia Subtypes in the National Comorbidity Survey, Am J Psychiatry 155:613-619, May 1998
  4. A survey by Dan Stein et al., as described in: Carlos Blanco, Carolina Garcia, Michael R. Liebowitz, "Epidemiology of Social Anxiety Disorder", in: Dan J. Stein, Borwin Bandelow (Eds.) "Social Anxiety Disorder", ISBN 0824754549, p.38
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