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Social Phobia – Psychology Research Paper


Humans face disorders which are physical, mental, behavioral or emotional. These disorders are some of the major determinants on the behaviors and relationship existing between and among different individuals. This paper is a critical examination of social phobia as one of the disorders affecting humans. It also aims at arriving at precise conclusion about its causes, symptoms, treatment and establishing the signs of recovery on a patient.

What is social phobia?

Social phobia also known as social anxiety disorder (SAD) is defined as an anxiety related (condition) problem associated with individual’s feelings (Daniel, 2001). It is generally associated with the way a person conducts him or herself in any social setting; in this case, an individual may be in a position of feeling very shy and / or lacking self–consciousness to excess fear in public or social places.

A person suffering from this condition is a great fear that is a result of the perception that people around him or her see in his or her actions. Therefore, such individuals will feel that they are vulnerable of doing something embarrassing. The fear within makes the affected person shake, sweat, blush or even develop excess alarm that will make the individual’s body become stiff and not be in a position to move (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2011).

It is noted that this condition happens when an individual faces or meets new people, talks in a group, or even speaks in a public gathering. These are some of the conditions that trigger extreme shyness, thus, resulting in an individual feeling very uncomfortable and unable to perform his/her everyday social responsibilities or participate in something.

It is mentioned that people suffering from social phobia easily interact with others who are close to them, such as close friends and family members, and their shyness is exposed only when they meet new groups of people who they are not used to (TeensHealth, 2011).

Social phobia is a condition that denies the patient an opportunity of enjoying social activities that are meant to be memorable and enjoyable. This can be seen as a result of the presence of a large group of people who make the individual develop extreme shyness, fear and self- conciseness depriving the individual of the opportunity to participate in social activities as they dread being embarrassed in public (Zimbardo et al, 2008).

Causes of Social Phobia

Research indicates that social phobia disorder has several causes including emotional, physical or psychological abuse by peers or parent when one was still a child, past traumatic social experiences, heredity from parents’ gene, drug and substance abuse as well as culture.

Past traumatic social experiences. Previous negative social experiences play a very significant role in determining the way individuals carry themselves in any public gatherings.

Research shows that close to 50% of all the individuals suffering from social phobia have direct or indirect experiences of a negative social event that was traumatic in the past and had a very humiliating effect on the person, or happened to someone who was closely related to a patient. Past experiences will automatically lead to making an individual develop extreme fear as a result of the long-term effect of the incident stuck in the mind of the person (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2011).

Emotional, physical or psychological abuse by peers or parent figure as a child; this is also considered to be a cause of social phobia in individuals. Past incidents where a human was scolded or abused by people who were supposed to offer him/her the necessary support and protection like parents and friends lead to development of SAD (Daniel, 2001).

Scolding and neglect will make the individual very cautious when undertaking certain actions in order to reduce any negative outcomes of the action. This leads to individual avoiding any social activities because of the inner feeling of being neglected, scolded or punished.

Heredity from parents. This character trait just like most other features can be inherited from parents; research clearly indicates that there is a 2/3 chance of a child getting social phobia trait from parents in case if one of the parents is suffering from the first degree social phobia disorder (Zimbardo et al, 2008).

Studies that have been conducted concerning identical twins who were adopted by different families indicate that one of the twins was likely to develop the disorder while another one’s chances of receiving the disorder ranged between 30-50%.

This is a clear indication that such a condition is hereditary (Daniel, 2001). Research also shows that around 10-15 percent of individuals who show early temperament will do so as a result of genetics; this action will later show during late adolescence and early adulthood developing fully to social anxiety disorder.

Culture is also another cause of social phobia, this is where different factors are considered in determining the type of parenting. According to the cultural background of the Americans, parents encourage their children to be very vocal and expressive at all the time while the Chinese encourage their children to be more submissive and thus carry themselves with a lot of dignity, especially in the presence of adults (Xinyin, et al, 1995).

It is also noted that shy children are accepted in China as compared to the outspoken ones, and these qualities make them be considered as great leaders and responsible people in America. In fact when individuals from such a background like China mingle with individuals from American background, they will have problems associating due to shyness and fear.

Signs and symptoms of Social Phobia

Social phobia is characterized by a great variety of symptoms that include persistent and intense fear in the presence of a large group of people, the fright of being watched, judged, embarrassed or humiliated by others for their actions, lack of concentration and corporation in the place of work, school or any other public place (Xinyin, et al, 1995).

Other physical symptoms of the disorder include blushing, profuse sweating, nausea, trembling and difficulty in talking, breathing, or dried throat in the process of speaking to a large group of people. Other signs include nervousness, sadness and easy upsets during a social event, increase in heart beat and difficulty in focusing (Daniel, 2001).

Diagnose and Treatment of Social Phobia

The treatment of this condition is only done after a correct diagnosis. The doctor will diagnose this condition through proper examination and observation of all the signs and symptoms. Additionally, the doctor observes emotions of the patient in a process known as mental health assessment. There is also a number of blood and urine tests that are carried out aimed at checking the levels of thyroids in patient’s body.

Once these symptoms are correctly identified, treatment is initiated. Some of the treatments include counseling (psychotherapy) and medicine. Medicine is usually induced to a patient in the form of antidepressants; it should be noted that this is administered only if the condition affects daily activities of a patient (Daniel, 2001).

Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT) is the common treatment that is administered in two ways. It takes a prolonged period of time to ensure that the patient recovers from this disorder. It consists of two parts noted as cognitive and behavioral therapy; cognitive therapy is aimed at ensuring that the patient realizes that everyone watching him/her is not judging him/her while behavioral therapy changes the person’s reactions thus getting rid of anxiety (TeensHealth, 2011).

Cognitive therapy is basically a realist approach in trying to solve this disorder while behavioral therapy is a soft approach in solving the disorder as it uses video feedback experiments and other attitude correction approaches (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2011).

Signs of cure

Positive results of therapy will show that the individual’s condition is improving. A variety of changes are experienced and may include improved self-confidence, reduced incidences of sweating, blushing, trembling difficulty of talking or breathing when in presence of a large group of people (Zimbardo et al, 2008).

Other indications showing that an individual is cured include reduced cases of nervousness and easy temperament in the case when in public place, an individual who was a shy person in the past is seen to mingle freely with new people whom he or she meets in a social gathering (Zimbardo et al, 2008).


From the review of social phobia disorder, it is apparent that it is a contributing factor to the manner with which people behave. The paper has ideally looked into the major causes of the social phobia disorder, the symptoms and signs associated with it and the possible way of curbing and dealing with the problem. Lastly, indicators to show that the interventions taken have worked are also brought to light.


Daniel, L. (2001). Toward an integrative understanding of social phobia. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 26(3): 190-202.

Teens Health (2011). . Web.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2011). Social phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder). Web.

Xinyin, C., Rubin, K. & Boshu, L. (1995). Social and school adjustment of shy and aggressive children in China. Development and Psychopathology, 7(2): 337–349.

Zimbardo, P., Johnson, R. & McCann, V. (2008). Psychology core concepts. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

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