Monday, February 06, 2006

Pathological Shyness vs. Social Phobia

The question was what is the major difference between pathological shyness and social phobia. This one was actually quite easy once I started digging. Pathological shyness is sort of like a branch of social phobia as linguistics is a branch of Anthropology (if I understand it right). Anyway, after perusing the information I decided that I couldn't break it down any better than the website. So I suggest you go there to read about the different levels of shyness and social phobia. When you can't improve on a product, just go with the original.

The Health Center is where I found most of this information.

Next posting will be sometime this week. I've decided that this will just be a weekly posting, not daily. Those of you who do not have blogs - blogger will tell me every time you post, so go ahead and leave a question and I'll try to answer you.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Adrenaline and Stress

Brandy asked a question on the last post about why she couldn't sleep the night before group and why she was exhausted afterward. It seems to happen before participating in activities that cause her stress. That leads me to believe that the culprit of these reactions all boils down to one word - adrenaline. Also referred to as epinephrine, this hormone occurs naturally in the body and plays a vital role in the fight or flight responses in our body. Fight or flight happens as a response to threatening or exciting conditions. As well as fear, adrenaline can also be increased by anger. This hormone plays an important role in short-term stress reaction. Everyone has heard stories about mothers who miraculously lifts cars off of their children after accidents. This is adrenaline. Brandy sees the group as a frightening event because of her shyness. The night before the event, her subconscious is already, for lack of a better term, battening down the hatches in order to prepare her for group the next day. Her body is going into fight or flight mode, sort of a pre-panic attack syndrome. This is actually a good thing as it is adrenaline which helps her to attend these functions. But the lack of sleep the night before can be detrimental to the body and can also adveresly affect her bodies ability to cope with the stress. We can't turn off the sub-conscious. It controls us, not the other way around. What we can do is use mechanisms to help us control our responses to our sub-conscious actions. What I would suggest for you Brandy, is to lay off the caffeine the day before and day of the event. Caffeine increases the levels of adrenaline. Also, try a warm bath with lavender at bedtime the night before group. See if you can get DH to give you a soothing, relaxing massage. Take melantonin or some other over the counter sleep aid, nothing strong, just something to help your body relax. You may also want to look into meditation or relaxation tapes to listen to before you retire for the night. There are many things you can do to help your body relax now that you know what is causing the disturbance.

Exhausted afterward? Of course you are, your body has been in the fight/flight mode, adrenaline levels have gone skyward. You can think of it as stress "attacking" your body and you using adrenaline to fight it off. It is known that the "let-down" after increases in adrenaline can cause exhaustion. And that's just it - your body is "letting down" after high stress levels. Maybe by getting a little more sleep the night before will help with this. Otherwise - you'll just have to arrange time to take a nap - I know that's hard with children, but maybe something can be worked out. Just a couple of hours to allow your body time to "re-set" its buttons. If anyone else has any ideas, please let us know.

Brandy - I'll answer your other question - the major difference between pathological shyness and social phobia - tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Since I'm not that familiar with just being shy, I've relied here on The Health Center website for this blog. All information comes from an article called Shyness: An Introduction to symptoms byFrank J. Bruno Ph.D, professor of psychology.

The social psychologist Philip O. Zimbardo has given the Stanford Shyness Survey to more than 5,000 persons worldwide. His results suggest, as indicated above, that shyness is a common problem. Approximately 80 percent of his subjects said that they experienced shyness some of the time. About 25 percent reported that they were shy in almost all social situations.

The common experience of being shy in a few social situations is called situational shyness and is not considered to be a behavioral problem. Feeling shy in almost all situations is called chronic shyness, and it is, of course, a problem. This kind of shyness can also be called dispositional shyness because it is a personality trait. The two terms can be used interchangeably with little or no loss of meaning.

It is possible to extend the trait of shyness into a more abnormal realm. Pathological shyness is the kind of shyness exhibited by a person who becomes very withdrawn from others and avoids all unnecessary contact with other persons. Also, the term social introversion is sometimes used to label the tendency to move away from people and into one’s own private psychological world.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a personality test widely used in psychiatry and clinical psychology to measure pathological traits, has on it a set of clinical scales, scales of measurement that report the degree of disturbance an individual has in given personality areas. One of these scales is a measure of social introversion. A high level of social introversion suggests that an individual suffers from either chronic or pathological shyness.

This is a brief intro to the subject. I wasn't aware that there was so much involved in defining shyness! Nor that there were so many forms of the condition. Tomorrow we'll talk about chronic shyness.

Have a great day folks!