What is Shyness?
The first information to be given about this matter
Shyness is not a
Why is it not a mental disorder? Because it does not
fit some criteria like those that appear in the
International Disease Classification, 10th Edition, by the
World Health Organization, and in the
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, by the American Psychiatric Association.
These criteria are related to the suffering, to
incapacitation in the present time, or to the
risk of aggravation.
If Shyness is not a disorder, what is it then?
Shyness can be explained in two ways. One is the
common sense description of the
symptoms that are present
in the person. The other is to explanation of what is happening in
the person who suffers Shyness.
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Common sense indicates that Shyness is a
inhibition in some situations.
It is a behavior pattern in which the person does
not express (or expresses few)
does not interact actively, and can have physiological
alterations like rapid breathing and heart beating.
The other way to explain Shyness is by describing what
is happening in the person. Although this should be
a complex area, as are all psychological processes,
a few topics are outstanding.
-- Recognizing her difficulty in interacting with
people or in social situations, mainly when she needs
to perform something.
Longing for freedom in social situations.
-- Existence of internal
discords. Opposing the longing for freedom there are barriers agains expression of thoughts, feelings, and
Depending on the relative weight of the longing and
the barriers, the difficulty is greater or lesser,
restricted to certain situations, or extended to many
-- The difficulty does not generate great suffering
and does not compromise the personal realization
in a significant way.
-- Existence of feelings and emotions that are expressed
fantasies. Once the feelings
are not expressed intensively in real life, such repression
makes the fantasies become more intense and frequent.
In the fantasies the barriers do not exist.
Internal discords, antagonistic forces like these (longing and barriers), generate the sensation of threat or of danger, named
The anxiety expresses itself in many ways, depending on the particularities of these forces. One of the expressions, as in the case of Shyness, is to inhibit or block the communication channels. This means that, in certain situations, the barriers overcome the longing or they co-exist side-by-side.
These internal processes have many detailed explanations,
depending on the
Personality Theory that is
adopted. Each Personality Theory explains the development
of the characteristics of the person, and the reasons
that human beings behave in a certain way.
from some development patterns would cause problems
to the individual. Shyness, one such deviation, can be explained in different ways, depending on the theory one adopts. The explanation given here is not based on any one of these theories but has elements of many.
Anyway, both common sense and a look at the internal process of the person should reveal that Shyness does not compromise, in a significant way, the personal realization; rather, it expresses itself as a poverty in the quality of life. It can be observed in many social situations. Examples: difficulty, but not impossibility, in participating in group activities, in practicing group sports, in speaking in public, in asking questions in class, in asking somebody for a date or intimate relation, in writing what he thinks, in speaking to someone in an authority position, or in entertaining in public.