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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 12-18-10, 07:16 PM
Glimpse Inside Glimpse Inside is offline
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Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

I was thinking about the possible causes of anxiety, and the main purposes it serves for the mind. For simplicity, lets keep the genetic factor aside for now. Sure, there is hereditary aspect, i.e. some babies cry more than others, and babies of parents who cried a lot as babies themselves tend to cry more than the babies of "calmer" parents. Lets call it general ""base" oversensitivity, which I am sure can be further increased or decreased through the environmental things and the style of parenting, social relationships the child goes through until reaching adulthood.

This applies more to social anxiety, which is more passive in its response to environment and revolves around criticism and avoiding criticism. Other types of anxiety like panic attacks or phobias are probably different, but still related to perceived threat.

1. Ego defense. You become over-reactive to criticism, which leads to overreaction to "normal" situations, and perception of threat anywhere somebody asks you to do smth, or other social situations. Origin: the "self" was probably often under attack in childhood, so the child cocooned emotionally, to protect the fragile ego. Probably, the small weaknesses or signs of them were exploited by parents and small things often riddled into big emotional arguments which the child of course lost all the time and so developed low self esteem and guilt. E.g. if you did something wrong, any small thing, then arguments will not stop at the subject or explaining how to do it correctly but will go on to tell how stupid you are. Alternatively, if commented on something others did wrong, small issue, it would spillover into massive arguments unrelated to original issue. In that world, cocooning and resorting to escapism and fantasy is probably the best solution, since the only way you can be safe emotionally is by shutting your thoughts to yourself. Whenever you are in social situations, e.g. answering phone, you are tense, as if prepared for a fight. Like when you feel you are physically threatened, you will naturally overreact to small gestures. This time its similar, except the treat is directed to your ego, or self, and physically you.

2. Coping strategy - mainly to cope with fear of rejection (isolating from social group). Again, the purpose is probably to guard unstable relationship with parents, you are afraid to speak out, or be active. Many with social anxiety probably also have passive aggressive behavior and express disagreement by subconsciously forgetting, not doing what they have to do, or doing worse etc. but not actively speaking it out.This is probably a more rational coping strategy, probably developed later in life.

What do you think?
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Old 12-19-10, 04:45 AM
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Re: Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

I'm not so sure about your passive agressive comment. I think that I possibly did behave that way as a teenager. But as an adult I am definitely more inclined to avoid other people.
So I would suggest that passive aggressive behaviour may be related to certain age groups or certain personalities?
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Old 12-24-10, 03:47 PM
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Re: Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

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Originally Posted by Glimpse Inside View Post
1. Ego defense. You become over-reactive to criticism, which leads to overreaction to "normal" situations, and perception of threat anywhere somebody asks you to do smth, or other social situations.
I think so. Sometimes I overanalze situations, but sometimes I perceive underlying attacks that others cannot or do not see.


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Many with social anxiety probably also have passive aggressive behavior and express disagreement by subconsciously forgetting, not doing what they have to do, or doing worse etc. but not actively speaking it out.
Maybe. But what I think I experience more is people exploiting my vulnerable nature. I cannot stand to be around passive-aggressive people. If you disagree with me, tell me in words, but don't dance around, making snide innuendos.
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Old 12-26-10, 08:46 PM
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Re: Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

I also dislike passive aggressive people, but after year of being taunted and made fun of for being openly hostile and aggressive, I began to hide my anger out of fear. It was not fun AT ALL. Sort of like being trapped in a cage.

If you enter the passive aggressive mindset, your perception is basically, "I can't show anger. If I show anger then things will escalate to conflict where I will be hurt by others."

Yes. I act this way. It feels like others are constantly attacking me. The big questions are:

1. ARE they really attacking me?
2. Do I DESERVE to be attacked?
3. How do I defend myself against attack? SHOULD I even defend myself against attack?
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Old 12-26-10, 09:04 PM
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Re: Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

adhd behaviour is often misinterpreted as passive aggressive behaviour (forgetting on purpose or some other means of punishing others) I forget more than enough because of my adhd that to do so even more in order to punish someone is simply not something I'd remotely consider.


Social avoidance appears to be a common strategy as it gets tiring and not worth it to try and manage such complex minefields. If there is little reward and much potential for crap from others or feeling badly about yourself the it makes a whole lot of sense.

Anxiety, yeah, it's not something we're born with, but considering how our actions are interpreted and the amount we get berated it's fairly obvious how we can develop an anxiety disorder. It's really an unfortunate side effect of lack of knowledge and less than charitable interpretations that we're subject to.

Eventually it would be really nice to see such abuse end so that a generation doesn't have to grow up with these additional disorders.
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Old 12-27-10, 05:45 PM
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Re: Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

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Originally Posted by ginniebean View Post
Social avoidance appears to be a common strategy as it gets tiring and not worth it to try and manage such complex minefields. If there is little reward and much potential for crap from others or feeling badly about yourself the it makes a whole lot of sense.

Anxiety, yeah, it's not something we're born with, but considering how our actions are interpreted and the amount we get berated it's fairly obvious how we can develop an anxiety disorder. It's really an unfortunate side effect of lack of knowledge and less than charitable interpretations that we're subject to.
After reading your words, it occurred to me that I'm the same way. I have subconsciously avoided several social situations but never thought about the reason.
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Old 12-27-10, 11:35 PM
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Re: Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

Wow, this is so me.

I think the reason a lot of people with ADHD have anxiety disorders is this very thing - our parents (often with the best intentions) criticize us for things that we really don't have control of, especially at a young age. My Mom used to shame me all the time about how messy I am, and I still have a huge complex about people seeing my apartment.

The escapism/fantasy thing is interesting. I'm an only child, and have always had an "inner life" that has been amusing to me. While my social anxiety has diminished to almost nothing, I still get tired of being around my friends and wish I could go listen to music and fantasize. The reason I think it's funny is, I'm an actress/singer by trade. I guess my dependence on a fantasy world isn't all that bad.

About passive aggression - the first time I ever openly expressed a disagreement with someone in a mature way was in college. I remember doing it and realizing that I'd never done it like that before. Before then, I either held it in and let it eat me up, or released it in a totally hostile way. I also used to be a big revenge-seeker. I've turned a lot of this around, but I still struggle with being honest and vulnerable vs. being honest and trying to intimidate.
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Old 02-21-11, 11:49 PM
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Re: Social Social Anxiety - ego defense and coping strategy?

I get kind of a rebellious attitude with social situations. Sometimes, the sense of apathy kills the anxiety.
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