By W. Ray Crozier
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Additional resources for Coping with Shyness and Social Phobia
The child who is poor at sports avoids games if he has the opportunity to do so. The child who enjoys computer games creates time and space to play them and she resists invitations to go out to play with others. The individual who finds it difficult to approach strangers soon gives up the job of salesperson. But he or she can only do so if this course of action is open to them. Thus the student who dreads examinations but who wishes to go to university or to obtain professional qualifications necessary for the career she seeks, for example in accountancy or nursing, has to face up to her fears.
Consider, for example, the British disc-jockey, Chris Moyles who presents a highly successful breakfast radio programme for the BBC, attracting an audience of close to seven million listeners. His popularity is evident by the fact that he is said to have added one million listeners to what had been a declining audience before he took over the programme. He has the reputation of being confident, loud, often rude, highly sociable, and eager to talk with strangers. Yet in his autobiography he writes of his shyness when he is not broadcasting, his quietness, lack of confidence in initiating conversations, and discomfort in social gatherings.
Most of us are shy on at least some occasions: we know this and can cope with it. For others, shyness is something that they would change if they could. For yet others, shyness is ‘crippling’, it prevents them from living the life they want to. When your anxieties are intense and they impede social functioning and reduce the quality of your life, you may well meet the diagnostic criteria for social phobia or social anxiety disorder. This is a recognized psychiatric disorder. Twenty or so years ago it wouldn’t have been recognized as such.