social phobia

Social phobias often start in adolescence and are centred around a fear of scrutiny by other people in comparatively small groups (as opposed to crowds), leading to avoidance of social situations. Unlike most other phobias, social phobias are equally common in men and women. They may be discrete (i.e. restricted to eating in public, to public speaking, or to encounters with the opposite sex) or diffuse, involving almost all social situations outside the family circle. A fear of vomiting in public may be important. Direct eye-to-eye confrontation may be particularly stressful in some cultures. Social phobias are usually associated with low self-esteem and fear of criticism. They may present as a complaint of flushing, hand tremor, nausea, or urgency of micturition, the individual sometimes being convinced that one of these secondary manifestations of anxiety is the primary problem; symptoms may progress to panic attacks. Avoidance is often marked, and in extreme cases may result in almost complete social isolation.


Diagnostic guidelines >

All of the following criteria should be fulfilled for a definite diagnosis:

(a) the psychological, behavioural, or autonomic symptoms must be primarily manifestations of anxiety and not secondary to other symptoms such as delusions or obsessional thoughts;
(b) the anxiety must be restricted to or predominate in particular social situations; and
(c) avoidance of the phobic situations must be a prominent feature.

* anthropophobia
* social neurosis