Sociophobia is an irrational fear, an uncontrolled fear of any social actions (for example, speaking to the public) or a fear of actions that are accompanied by increased attention from strangers (outsiders) (for example, the inability to do anything when someone else is watching).
Sociophobia is also called social anxiety disorder. It is expressed in uncontrolled fear, which completely paralyzes the will of the individual and complicates his social interaction. Social phobia is always characterized by a situational cause that triggers a whole range of manifestations, which sometimes can be indistinguishable from panic attacks.
Psychologists believe that the causes of sociophobia are inextricably linked with self-doubt and are hidden deep in the human subconscious. A person affected by this phobia is quite dependent on the assessment of his society, on the opinion of him and his actions by others. It is believed that the real causes of this phobia originate from childhood. Parents, other significant adults, educators, teachers, quite often, in their practice, use a comparative assessment of personality behavior in a negative manner. Any actions that you don’t like are accompanied by phrases: don’t roar like a girl, you say when they ask, but before that, be quiet etc. Subsequently, the subconscious of children reinforces this behavior, which leads to manifestations of low self-esteem in the adult state. And low self-esteem can lead to sociophobia in the future.
Another reason can be considered a long stay of a person in a stressful state or prolonged emotional stress associated, for example, with work.
Sociophobia can also develop under the influence of a single stressful situation, for example, a natural cataclysm, car accident, accident, terrorist attack, etc.
Quite often, social phobia can be the primary pathology in subjects who are prone to depressive states, in drug-addicted people or addicted to alcohol.
People suffering from social phobia just want to make a good pleasant impression on others. However, at the same time, such people are very worried, worried and doubt themselves and their abilities. Trying to do everything perfectly, they expect praise, but at the same time, they are very afraid of the consequences that will entail the evaluation of their actions.
People with sociophobia shy away from situations in which they can be rejected. They become a kind of hostage to their own image. Sociophobes try to please everyone around only in order to earn their approval, attention, location and interest. They just want to feel better and better.
There is another kind of sociophobia, behaving in a team rather relaxed, trying by different methods to attract attention. They do this in order to create a positive image for themselves. Those around them are favorable, until they begin to understand that a huge amount of fears and complexes are hidden behind ostentatious fun. For the person suffering from sociophobia, this behavior is a kind of attempt to hide his anxiety.
The main cause of nervousness and anxiety of sociophobes is their belief that others think negatively of them. Sociophobe carefully plans all his public actions, so as not to get into a mess, not to seem stupid, ugly, weak. Although in fact there is absolutely no reason for this. It is impossible to convince a person suffering from sociophobia that his natural behavior does not cause any negative impression.
Basically, others respond to such a person better and softer than he thinks about himself. However, any individual perceives the surrounding reality through the prism of himself and his own ideas, thoughts. There is no point in convincing him otherwise. Therefore, it is very difficult for a social phobia to give compliments, and he should accept them.
Many sociophobes do not even suspect that they have such a phobia, since they are confident that they are psychologically healthy.
As a rule, problems such as fear of communication with others arise in the teenage period. This is due to the fact that the puberty in the life of a teenager is quite difficult and important for him. Indeed, in this period there is a transition from a childhood state to an adult. This period is characterized by aggravation of feelings. Therefore, if there is even the slightest uncertainty or shyness, transitional age can strengthen them or transform into sociophobia. The more negative emotions will be in the puberty, the greater the risk for sociophobia.
Social phobia symptoms
Only a doctor can make a diagnosis of social phobia. However, there are a number of common symptoms. Unconscious fear arising in a public place when meeting people. In this case, the face turns red, there is a rapid heartbeat, trembling in the limbs, increased sweating. The manifestations of this phobia are very reminiscent of panic attacks . However, sociophobia is not characterized by paroxysmal, but prolonged and unreasonable states of anxiety, nervousness, irritability.
Often sick, sociophobia itself is perceived as fear. It is expressed by a refusal to solve problems related to society and communication. For example, refusal of medical care, fear of visiting restaurants or shops, social phobia in a child is expressed in fear of speaking in class, reading aloud, etc.
Suffering from sociophobia, they are susceptible to an unfounded fear of being negatively evaluated by others about the forced interaction with them. Anxiety, embarrassment, fear, shyness - these are the main conditions that accompany sociophobia.
Situations that provoke fear can be: acquaintances, talking on the phone, interacting with the leader, receiving visitors, any actions performed in the presence of others, public speaking.
Sociophobia in a child can manifest itself in a refusal to attend school. So, all the symptoms can be divided into three groups: cognitive, behavioral and physiological.
The first group includes the horror that people experience from evaluating others. Therefore, sociophobes are almost always focused on themselves, on how they look from the side and how they behave. They usually make excessive demands on themselves.
People prone to sociophobia are trying their best to make a pleasant impression on themselves around, but at the same time, they are confident in their hearts that they will not be able to do this. People suffering from such a phobia can scroll many times in their head all possible scenarios for the further development of a situation that provokes anxiety, while analyzing what and where they could do wrong. Such thoughts can be intrusive and harass the individual for several weeks after a stressful situation.
Sociophobes are characterized by inadequate opinions about themselves, about their potential. They are more likely to see themselves on the negative side. There is also information that the memory of sociophobes holds more negative memories, while healthy people tend to forget all the bad.
The second group includes the avoidance of any contacts with people around, parties and dates. They are afraid to talk to strangers, visit bars, cafes, canteens, etc. Sociophobes are careful not to look into the eyes of the interlocutor, i.e. social phobia is characterized by avoidance behavior.
From the physiology side, excessive sweating, redness of the face, changes in the heart rhythm, tears, difficulty in breathing, nausea, tremor of the extremities are observed. Gait disturbances are also possible, especially when a person passes a group of people. The result of such manifestations among sociophobes will be even greater anxiety.
Certain signs of sociophobia are also distinguished. Avoiding behavior, taking psychotropic or alcoholic drugs are the main signs of sociophobia. Signs of sociophobia are conditionally divided into mental and autonomic. Mental include avoidance, fear, shyness, low self-esteem, etc. Physiological symptoms include vegetative signs.
Conventionally, the treatment methods for this phobia can be divided into 4 groups: individual psychotherapy, medication, group therapy, self-help or book treatment, online consultations, etc.
However, behavioral therapy is considered the main treatment method giving the highest percentage of positive results. The essence of behavioral therapy is the formation of sociophobic new mental attitudes during the assessment of situations that cause anxiety, and relief from physical symptoms. The main acquisitions after cognitive therapy can be considered behavioral skills in various social situations, anxiety can pass on its own, a person behaves calmer in social situations, self-learning skills.
Drug treatment is used in cases of patients refusing psychotherapeutic treatment. However, the effectiveness of medicines is quite limited and is mainly aimed at eliminating symptoms such as stress and anxiety.
Drug therapy involves the use of drugs from groups such as antidepressants, beta-blockers and benzodiazepines.
There are other methods, trainings and ways to get rid of this phobia. For example, the method of positive visualization, which consists in presenting a situation that provokes anxiety and nervousness, excitement, feelings of fear and living this situation with a positive attitude.
Also, J. Biom developed a training to overcome sociophobia, which consists in the possibility of more impartial consideration of situations of interaction with society, to trace their irrational judgments and ideas, to develop more effective ways of interacting with the environment. Training to overcome sociophobia is based on a variety of exercises that simulate various situations in everyday life. Many people using training techniques have managed to significantly improve their condition.
Today, quite a few methods have been developed that determine the presence of sociophobia. For example, a test for social phobia. Its main purpose is to assess the level of anxiety that occurs under the influence of various social situations. This test consists in the description of 24 situations. For each of the situations, you need to determine the level of anxiety. All answers are given for a period that is equal to the past week. Those. if a person last week experienced the described situation, then he gives an answer about the experienced anxiety. If such a situation did not happen to him last week, then he gives an answer about his expected behavior, whether he will feel anxiety in this situation or not, if so, how much, etc.
The level of anxiety is determined using the four point system, where zero is the absence of anxiety, one is mild anxiety, two is moderate, and three is intense. Then the level of avoidance of such situations is estimated using a scale where zero is never, 1 is sometimes, 2 is often and 3 is constant. After passing the test, the total result for all 24 situations is calculated. There should be two positions, one is the degree of avoidance, and the second is the degree of anxiety. Then two indicators add up. Based on the result, we can judge the presence and severity of sociophobia.
This test was developed by a well-known researcher and psychologist M. Leibovich. This test is considered fairly objective and with great accuracy determines the presence of this phobia.