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Anxiety Disorders, OCD & PTSD A forum to discuss Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Simple Phobias, and Social Anxiety Disorder

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  #1  
Old 05-12-11, 02:45 PM
Glimpse Inside Glimpse Inside is offline
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Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

Tell me if you can relate to this. It is heavily biased on individual experiences, and maybe more related to passive aggressive type of social anxiety, so I am generalizing, but perhaps some elements apply to more than just me.

Lets start with an assumption that at the core of Social Anxiety is fear of criticism, which then consequently leads to avoidance of interactions with other people, and all situations where criticism is possible (not writing at forums though, interestingly). We cannot take criticism easily, so to avoid it we are cocooning in the overprotective, fragile sense of self, the only place that is safe. But its not criticism itself that matters, its the reaction to it. There are many people who receive criticism or dissaproval, but they do not react to it as strongly as we do. And the reason we react so intensely is because we share some painful experiences from early childhood, when criticism was used to put down, destroy, invalidate our early manifestation of "self" by people close to us, such as overcontrolling parents. In that sense, criticism is not just what it is - criticism, or disagreement opinion, its an attack on our own fragile sense of "self". And we can't change that rationally, because we grew up in this emotionally unsafe environment, and it is this environment we considered the "real world" or "normality" for most of our growing lives. In this world, criticism is rarely deserved or just, and is more like a method for others to project their own problems into you, to which we were defenseless. Knowing this, we overreact to any criticism, even if it is reasonable, because it just starts the cycle of learned instinctive responses again. So, yeah, its the same "blame the parents" story, but it probably has some merit...

It would be interesting to see how many of us with social anxiety feel comfortable and emotionally "at home" with your early influences, i.e. parents or siblings. I wonder if there are people with social anxiety, who never had "emotional abuse" growing up? At least in my case, there is clearly a lot of repressed anger and unexpressed disagreement. Unexpressed, because it was not posible to express in a fair and understanding environment.
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Old 05-12-11, 04:28 PM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

Here is an interesting article on the subject. My impresssion after reading this was that there is strong support for the link between behavioral inhibition during early childhood and adolescent/adult social phobia; but parenting style was found to have only moderate effect, with more researchers believing biology (brain chemistry) is at the main influence. So I am probably wrong with the above, but was worth a shot

http://www.psychology.sunysb.edu/ewa...emperament.pdf
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Old 05-12-11, 04:57 PM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

I think a lot of it is brain function. I have no facts its just my thoughts. I am hardwired to remain in hyper stress mode so everything across the board that causes anxiety gets the same reaction. If I miss an appt same reaction as having a car accident. There are varying degrees of response for me but generally all stress big or small keeps me in overdrive and cause anxiety. This causes me social anxiety because my reactions to certain things are often inappropriate especially in groups of people.
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Old 05-19-11, 08:52 PM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

Yep. i can relate. that sounds like my childhood. Flashbacks are coming back. kinda depressing now that i think about it and relive the flashbacks.

I grew up in a house hold where "young ladys" couldnt go out and play when the clock hit 6pm or when the sun started to go down. I couldnt play with boys and some girls in my heighborhood. If the girls seemed wild or if they talked to boys.. i was not allowed to hang out with them because i'd become one of them. But generally speaking I couldnt go out to play with them and they werent allowed to come in to my house. I was only allowed to see them play through the window. I was often told i didnt need friends.. they couldnt be trusted anyways.


Brothers and sisters always pointed out all of my "flows", made me real self conscious about my body and what i wore. They would always say stuff like "eww.. cover up no one wants to see that" or "people are going to get disgusted when then see that" so I always wore a hoodie jacket to cover up as much as i could. i hated shopping for clothes... nothing looked okay on me, always walked out of the store empty handed. Brothers (two of them are twins and a year older then me) would always make fat comments because i of my hips when i was younger, they would simply call me fat (15yrs i wore size 5, now size 7 with a bouble butt and flat stomach.. but i'm still self conscious). I guess you can say i was always put down or picked on.



Another reason why I may anit social..
Before going to an Auntes or Uncle's house my parents would always say "If they ask stuff regarding what we do at home or about where your brothers are -dont tell them anything". It never failed. The way they would say it their, voice, facial expressions, body laungage ehh kept me from say anything. They would ask me how i was doing in school, i could see my parents from the corner of my eye looking at me and i'd be afraid to say anything. till this day they still say things like "you dont want to give any information out to anyone" or "if someone asks you questions just say, i dont know".

Now, everytime they tell me not to say anything or not give out my information.. I go crazy, it irritates me.. i turn into the Hulk. i'll start smashing/slamming things and also yell. It angers me (getting angry just talking about it).


On top of "not giving out any information" i wasnt allowed to play with the cousins. If it looked like i was getting wild and out of hand .. my parents would make me sit on the couch next to them. I had "to be a good girl and sit still" haha and now i have trouble doing things with my friends.... i cant join a conversation. I'm frozen sitting in my chair quiet and a good girl.



eh.. woops made it longer then i intended.. and probably said thing i shouldnt have.
anyways ...anybody know a way to reverse this??
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Old 05-24-11, 02:26 AM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

I know it is a cliche... blame it on the mother, however, I can not remember a time growing up when my mother was warm or accepting, or really ever sincerely told me that she loved me. She was extremely critical, and I can imagine that if your primary care taker does not show acceptance, that it would create a predisposition to expect all social encounters to result in the same way.
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Old 05-24-11, 06:05 PM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

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Originally Posted by Tatsoo View Post
I know it is a cliche... blame it on the mother, however, I can not remember a time growing up when my mother was warm or accepting, or really ever sincerely told me that she loved me. She was extremely critical, and I can imagine that if your primary care taker does not show acceptance, that it would create a predisposition to expect all social encounters to result in the same way.
This. My mother was this way. My mother was there for me up until she married my stepdad. There was a period of still getting to know each other for them I assume so I was still comfortable with my mother. When 7th grade rolled around for me, it was different. My grades started slipping. My stepdad was very controlling and didn't know how to parent (he never had a kid of his own.)

Any time I would do something to show my frustration, he would react extremely aggressively. Sometimes he would pin me down on the floor and yell at me with extreme anger in his eyes. One time he even flipped my entire bed room upside down. I think my mother was affected somehow by this. From this point on, all I received was criticism to the full extent from both my stepdad and my mother.

I became depressed, anxious (though I couldn't see it at the time) and I buried my head in video games and computers where no one could harm me. At one point in my life, I was Bipolar but I thank god for my lucky stars that I recovered because if I didn't I was headed down the road of lonely souls.

So I must believe that every time I have a social interaction, I have a predisposition to believe that something bad will come of it and I clam up and I get very nervous and scared. I often feel like I can't make any true connection with anyone and that's the thing that hurts the most. My brother is the only one I feel that way with but it hurts when he can't relate to my problems because he was treated more favorably.

Now that I think about it, I think the only things that really bring me a sense of focus and relief from anxiety are video games and computers and talking about my problems. And these are all very anti-social activities. I want to change this.

Oh my, did I rant?
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Old 05-25-11, 03:39 AM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

Hi Dm,

I very much appreciate your story; I know it is difficult to share (at least for me it is). Just to mention, I too became immersed in video games, the multi player kind, and I don't know if I would call it anti-social just because it is over an electronic media; you might have to give yourself more credit. I have talked with others and listened to/read their intimate problems as well through this activity. Whether putting your feelings out online or in person, it still elicits interaction from others, and can leave you vulnerable to others comments and criticism. I think these factors are paramount to a social interaction.
The effort it takes to log on and share a story/view that you would rather not think about is brave, and I hope the knowledge that you are helping others (you really are every time that you share) is healing.

Thanks!
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Old 05-27-11, 04:12 AM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

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Originally Posted by Tatsoo View Post
Hi Dm,

I very much appreciate your story; I know it is difficult to share (at least for me it is). Just to mention, I too became immersed in video games, the multi player kind, and I don't know if I would call it anti-social just because it is over an electronic media; you might have to give yourself more credit. I have talked with others and listened to/read their intimate problems as well through this activity. Whether putting your feelings out online or in person, it still elicits interaction from others, and can leave you vulnerable to others comments and criticism. I think these factors are paramount to a social interaction.
The effort it takes to log on and share a story/view that you would rather not think about is brave, and I hope the knowledge that you are helping others (you really are every time that you share) is healing.

Thanks!
Thanks. All of it was tough while it happened, but you have to move on. And I've certainly done that. While it may look like I am whining about the past, I was actually just attempting to understand possible causes for my personal problems (so I can help others someday).

In fact, I am actually deep into the future. I rarely think about this stuff anymore and I see my problems and my life in general as a sort of game, if you will. We start off this game with certain tools and resources and what not and it is up to us to use these tools and resources to make the best out of what we got!
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Old 05-31-11, 03:09 AM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

Well said DM.
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Old 06-04-11, 01:51 AM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

How about: X is the part of the brain that is aroused when there is a situation that requires an emotional response. Y filters stimuli for X. Y is the learned mechanism. In other words Y tells X which stimuli to fear, which to ignore, which to be happy at..Consider the two possible scenarios:

1) Everyone has fear of criticism. But it is a matter of proportion. X is much overactive in people with Social Anxiety. So, the fear is much greater, but then elation would be as great, so would all the other emotions going by this? This could be logically ruled out I suppose
2) If Y is constantly bringing in situations which require fear (which means something can be wrong intrinsically with Y or the majority of social experiences being encountered actually require fear), then that could bias the instinctual response of X to fear all social situations over time (considering that the brain is plastic and learns from experience).
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Old 06-30-11, 07:56 PM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

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Originally Posted by Glimpse Inside View Post
It would be interesting to see how many of us with social anxiety feel comfortable and emotionally "at home" with your early influences, i.e. parents or siblings. I wonder if there are people with social anxiety, who never had "emotional abuse" growing up? At least in my case, there is clearly a lot of repressed anger and unexpressed disagreement. Unexpressed, because it was not posible to express in a fair and understanding environment.
For me it seems to have been genetic, or at least born into me.

When I was very young (as young as I can remember) I was extremely shy.... to the point where I couldn't even talk to kids my own age let alone adults. If ever I really TRIED to speak, to anyone outside my immediate family, I just ended up crying instead. Needless to say I literally had no friends growing up.
In highschool I decided I was tired of being shy and I set upon fixing it myself. I had no counseling, no help, no guidance in this, I just went on my own, just trying to talk more. I actually did manage this (over years and years of course) to the point where I'm just "quiet" or "reserved". I still feel a bit shy at times, but "no biggie"
Now the point to this, is that I did not have criticism from my parents or siblings as a kid, certainly not before I was 4 years old, which is the earliest recollection I have of being shy. My dad was a bit of an overbearing person, but not unusually so, and not to the point where any "normal" person would have a problem with it. In fact, my husband now is a lot like he was, and I have NO problem at all with his personality now. In other words, things that bothered me when I was 4 years old don't phase me now. I guess i'm just saying that in my case at least, it was something I was born with and grew out of, rather than something that started happening only as a result of how I was treated. Does that make sense?
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Old 07-05-11, 01:28 AM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

For as long as I have memories of my childhood, lets say 33 years, I have suffered from severe SAD. I am a 47 on a SPIN test if that helps much. I have no idea what caused it to be honest, I have always ben extremely shy in and around people I do not know, or in some cases removed family members like aunts, uncles, cousins etc... I have had severe panic attacks at school when asked to be in a play, I had severe panic attacks when asked to speak in front of class, I have panic attacks when under scrutiny (some practical exams were hell for me), I have panic attacks when asked to present to customers, latest one was a week and a half ago, I felt so embarrassed I had to excuse myself from the account. All my life I have been like this except for a dark period in my early adulthood where I basically drank habitually day after day for 4 years to loosen up the inhibitions. Once I stopped drinking I basically led the life of a recluse wherever possible, and as for work, I worked either Graveyard shifts as tech support for datacenters, or in roles where I spent the vast majority of my time alone. I have had few friends over the years, mainly because it takes me an age to get to a point where I feel i can even talk to people. As you can imagine relationships with women was challenging. In my early days I simply got drunk, but on days when I was sober, I would sit there shaking, sweating and stammering, feeling like a right fool while trying to talk to my "girlfriend" of the moment. I finally made it to marriage though, albeit it took me 7 years to seal the deal, mainly because I needed constant counseling to encourage me to stand up in front of a room of people, most of which I new.
There is not a day goes by where I do not think about my life and its quirks, but until I read this post, I guess I never got to think about its origins. Maybe it is chemical. Either way, I have decided to seek help at last.
As for bravery on a forum, well the way I look at it is easy. When I am online I am a virtual entity, not a physical one. I cannot see you, I cannot hear you, all I can do is read peoples thoughts and feelings. When I come across something I find stressful I block it, or remove myself from the environment.
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Old 07-05-11, 03:16 AM
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Re: Social Anxiety - attempt to explain the causes

Moving frequently from an early age, not understanding social rules, and having low self-esteem contributed to my social anxiety early on.

Teachers at school always commented on how socially withdrawn I was in class.
I didn't engage very much in activities with my peers.

It was difficult for me to make friends and it still is.
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