Is shyness an illness?

Health Desk
23 July 2020, Thu
Published: 11:56

Is shyness an illness?

Shyness is a feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort or awkwardness especially when a person is around others. It involves a fear of negative evaluation by others. Shyness is different from being an introvert, although the two are commonly mistaken to be the same thing.

It may be that shyness is a personality trait but a propensity for it is influenced by social experiences, says Kishore Chandiramani, Consultant Psychiatrist Emotions Clinic, Education and Training Centre, England.

It is believed that most shy children develop shyness because of their interactions with their parents. The parents, mostly mothers, who are authoritarian or overprotective can cause their children to be shy. However, these parents also offer an opportunity to the child to get out of their shyness if the child can identify with them, he tells IANSlife.

"It strange that both introverts, as well as extroverts, feel envious of each other for the traits they are missing in their own personalities. Carl Gustav Jung has mentioned that a switch occurs during the late 30s or early 40s in one's life when the introverts try to become extroverts and extroverts introverts with some success, as they both feel that being an extrovert or an introvert hasn't paid them off well in life. However, early in life, an introvert should try to be a successful introvert and an extrovert a successful extrovert," explains the expert.

Social anxiety disorder
Scientists say: "Shyness is not an illness but a social anxiety disorder is, and the two are different. Shyness is a personality trait. Many people who are shy do not have negative emotions and feelings that accompany social anxiety disorder. While many people with a social anxiety disorder are not shy in other settings, shyness is not a pre-requisite for social anxiety disorder."

He adds: "Shyness is pervasive but social anxiety disorder can be restricted to only one aspect of one's functioning such as eating in public, public-speaking or encounters with the opposite sex."

There is some evidence supporting a genetic basis to the diffuse (not specific) social anxiety disorder as it is found more commonly among the relative of the client. The fMRI studies of the brain also suggest that the amygdala (which is a seat of fear in the brain) of social anxiety disorder clients was hypersensitive to the facial expression of others - the expressions of anger or contemptuous (socially threatening) attitudes, Chandiramani says.

"Stressful life events and trauma during childhood can also influence the development of social anxiety problems. Some of the exposures known to have predictive value for severe social anxiety include Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. It is encouraging to note that many social anxiety disorder clients respond well to treatment with SSRIs."

Jung and his introversion /extroversion theory
Jung has argued that being introverted is a matter of individual disposition and not related to the mother's influence as two children of the same mother may exhibit contrary traits early in life. He doesn't discount the role of parenting and says that if mothers own attitude is extreme, a similar attitude can be forced on the child too, thus violating their individual disposition, Chandiramani explains. Source: IANS