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What is Shyness?

The first information to be given about this matter is: Shyness is not a mental disorder.

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 Diagnostic 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 signs and 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 behavior pattern characterized by inhibition in some situations. It is a behavior pattern in which the person does not express (or expresses few) thoughts and feelings, 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 emotions. 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 other ones.

-- 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 intensively in 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 anxiety. 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. Deviations 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.

Articles on Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia and Shyness:

Basic Articles:

Self-Concept/Self- Actualization – Shyness Nucleus

Self-concept, Body Image, Self-depreciation and Shyness

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Neurophysiological Approach

Shyness Articles:

What Is Shyness? Fear, Anxiety, Anguish?

Questions and Answers on Shyness

Humiliation Stories, School Spankings: Examples of Shyness Causes

Social Anxiety Disorder Articles:

Social Anxiety Disorder: What It Is, The Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Social Anxiety Attacks: Incidence, Onset, History, Evolution

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Treatment

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Differential Diagnosis

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Medications in Social Phobia: Side Effects

Antidepressants Tricyclics: Side Effects

Metabolic Pathways Individual Differences and Medications Side Effects

Genetic Changes: Medications Side Effects

First Line Antidepressants - Side Effects
Social Anxiety and Shyness Articles:

Panic Disorder, Shyness, Social Phobia - Differences

Why Self-Help in Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia Doesn�t Help You

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Medication Action

Facial Blushing, Redness of the Face, Ears and Neck

Psychoses, Shyness and Social Phobia

overcoming shyness

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