Do you think Social Anxiety is irrational? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Do you think Social Anxiety is irrational?

I just read something from the Social Anxiety Institute website that pissed me off. It said that EVERYONE with social anxiety knows that their thoughts and fear of others is irrational, and that social anxiety is completely irrational in general. Read the passage for yourself:

"One thing that all socially anxious people share is the knowledge that their thoughts and fears are basically irrational. That is, people with social anxiety know that others are really not critically judging or evaluating them all the time. They understand that people are not trying to embarrass or humiliate them." -- socialanxietyinstitute.org

What are your guys' thoughts on this? Do you think your social anxiety is irrational? What if we really are being judged in public? The website suggested that any thought that other people are judging us is completely irrational, but I don't think that's true at all. Some of us really are being judged, especially those who have physical deformities to their appearance. For example, those who have deformities such as from injuries like burns on their face are obviously going to get stared at more than the average folk. And obviously, people are going to judge these individuals negatively, simply based off of their appearance. Wouldn't it be natural for the person with the deformity to develop social anxiety as a result of constantly getting stared at and judged? Is social anxiety really irrational in this situation?

I personally suffer from a similar predicament, except for me it's acne. I have severe acne, and I don't mean some pimples here and there, but my acne really is SEVERE. Everywhere I go, I often see people stare at me probably because they're not used to seeing people with this much acne. I really am getting stared at and judged, and I see (and even heard) people stare and whisper to each other while staring at me because of my acne. I really am being judged in public, and therefore I don't think my social anxiety is irrational at all.

Sorry for the long post, but this is something I've been thinking about for a while and just wanted to get a discussion going. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this. From your experiences, what are your thoughts on this subject?

"A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion." -- Grantland Rice
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 10:21 PM
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I don't think SA is entirely irrational, although i think it does have its irrational moments. Like when you wait for someone to move away from a store shelf so you can look at it, instead of asking them to move. The average person is not going to mind if you ask them to move, and we know this, yet it can be terrifying to think of inconveniencing them. This used to be a really annoying problem for me, which came to mind for some reason.

On the whole, the socially anxious are a persecuted bunch. That's real. And even some of the stuff that's not real, seems real at the time, so i think the quoted post is still wrong. It's usually pretty hard to have insight on things you're anxious over. Even if you do realize something is irrational, you don't really realize it the same way someone without anxiety does. Like when i look back at the shelf problem, and i can say "huh. why did i ever do that?" Never would have thought that at the time.

But, my dear, this is not Wonderland, and you are not Alice.

Last edited by She and Her Darkness; 05-18-2017 at 11:30 PM. Reason: edited three times :P
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 10:21 PM
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I mean its both....I think most of us over worry but I also think there is a reason to worry as well sometimes.

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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 11:08 PM
 
 
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Social anxiety disorder is defined as being irrational. If your fears are fully justified, then it's not social anxiety disorder -- though it can still be social anxiety.

Full DSM-5 criteria:

A. A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating.

B. Exposure to the feared situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationally pre-disposed Panic Attack.

C. The person recognizes that this fear is unreasonable or excessive.

D. The feared situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety and distress.

E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person's normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.

F. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting 6 or more months.

G. The fear or avoidance is not due to direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., drugs, medications) or a general medical condition not better accounted for by another mental disorder...

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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 11:11 PM
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I don't think the author meant it quite the way it comes off. I imagine they were more trying to say that those with social anxiety can tell basically that they have reactions in situations that are at odds with their higher order conscious thoughts. Whether they are justified in part or whole or can be made sense of is not quite the subject.

I'd say that since any fear is ultimately of separation, social anxiety is quite ironic.

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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 11:32 PM
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Totally irrational.

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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 12:55 AM
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I think there's some semantics going on here. In psychiatry, describing someone as being aware that their thoughts can be irrational is proof of their insight and lack of psychosis. I think that's mainly what they're getting at. However that's not to say that that SA fears are baseless. They're not. It's just a matter of degree. It's one thing to have heightened awareness of real rejection and disapproval (painful reality), and it's another to think you're being maliciously singled out and persecuted by basically everyone, all the time (psychosis or any type of personality disorder that completely abandons reason for conviction).
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul View Post
Social anxiety disorder is defined as being irrational. If your fears are fully justified, then it's not social anxiety disorder -- though it can still be social anxiety.

Full DSM-5 criteria:...

C. The person recognizes that this fear is unreasonable or excessive.
Hmm, that would suggest that someone who has irrational thoughts but is unaware that their thoughts are irrational or simply delusional can't have SAD. Sounds a bit convenient, I've noticed over the years that mental health professionals (at least in my experience) have a habit of trying to redefine their way out of difficult situations (constantly moving the goal posts) instead of actually engaging in the difficult philosophical discussion (I assume because they know they might lose and then they'd be lost).

It strikes as like saying someone can't be obese unless they know that they eat too much and aren't doing enough exercise. Which would mean that those who are obese but maintain that it's healthy aren't actually obese, seems ridiculous (obviously this is a hypothetical scenario, I'm not suggesting you believe this).

@Shogun224 , I tend to find this type of thinking child like and overly simplistic as it simply doesn't account for nuance, it seeks to make everything neat, life isn't neat.

I've had to go through this with a few therapists, as I'm not afraid to challenge them. How am I supposed to respect someone who thinks that we live in a world where only positive thoughts are real and exist externally?

As for your specific case, yes, people probably do notice your acne if it's as severe as you say, but that doesn't mean they will necessarily reject you outright as a result. So if the anticipation of outright rejection is part of your beliefs that probably isn't based on logic.

You mentioned deformities, many such people manage to have both friendships and relationships so believing that it would be impossible for you to do so based on that alone does seem somewhat irrational.

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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:11 AM
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No it's not irrational. At least not in the sense you are delusional.

I mean the danger is very real. You're afraid of people thinking negatively of you because that's where you place all of your self worth. At least that's the way it is (or was, rather) in my case.

So, trying to tell yourself, "Oh, they're not even thinking about me anyway", or "they have no reason to dislike me" isn't really solving anything. There ARE going to be people that are going to dislike you - for the DUMBEST of reasons. I've had people actually get angry towards me because I was skinny. It's just the way it is.

You gotta find a state of mind where you aren't so vulnerable to other peoples' opinions, so that even when they ARE thinking poorly about you or giving you an attitude, it doesn't hurt your self esteem.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LonelyLurker View Post
Hmm, that would suggest that someone who has irrational thoughts but is unaware that their thoughts are irrational or simply delusional can't have SAD. Sounds a bit convenient,
Clinically, if they're that unaware / delusional I think that pushes them into the paranoia category, but technically social anxiety would still be part of their symptoms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LonelyLurker View Post
I've noticed over the years that mental health professionals (at least in my experience) have a habit of trying to redefine their way out of difficult situations (constantly moving the goal posts) instead of actually engaging in the difficult philosophical discussion (I assume because they know they might lose and then they'd be lost).
This is generally true and why I cbf'd seeing therapists anymore.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Rains View Post
Clinically, if they're that unaware / delusional I think that pushes them into the paranoia category, but technically social anxiety would still be part of their symptoms.
I guess I could see that kind of argument being used though I would disagree with it (and get on their nerves ).

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This is generally true and why I cbf'd seeing therapists anymore.
I wish I could still have some hope in them but I simply don't.

Don't let that put any of you off from trying it though, I'm sure yours will be amazing.

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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 08:01 AM
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I don't think they are at all irrational. Nobody has my back, anymore. The people I trusted most have proven to be treacherous. Stepping out in the world to find new relationships is really hard if you haven't got a support system. Lucky I've got a couple of close friends but it is just hard to leave the house. The amount of courage it takes is amazing. Total strangers are easier to deal with than my past-trusteds. Shaking in my boots about Sunday when I'll see my son who will find fault with every word out of my mouth.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 12:31 PM
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Yes, the disorder is irrational. The anxiety felt is unnecessary, unhelpful and detrimental overall, and well out of proportion to the situation. That's how it is for me anyway.

Please feel free to be honest with me, reply to me, or not reply to me. I don't mind
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:07 PM
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I think this means irrational in that there is awareness of the fear being disproportionate to the threat. So for example, lets say I am doing an exposure exercise:

Rational Anxious: "omfg I am dreading this, why the **** am I dreading this, nothing that bad will happen, I am just going to be asking where the soup is"

Irrational Anxious: "omfg I am dreading this, when I ask where the soup is, serious harm might befall me".

Even in instances where an individual has experienced trauma previously buying soup (e.g. lost a leg), it can still be considered irrational to expect that, because probability wise that trauma won't likely occur (the individual knows the chances are they won't lose the other leg from another soup incident). - "I can't keep losing legs from these soup incidents, why am I so scared?".

Quote:
Originally Posted by LonelyLurker View Post
I've noticed over the years that mental health professionals (at least in my experience) have a habit of trying to redefine their way out of difficult situations (constantly moving the goal posts) instead of actually engaging in the difficult philosophical discussion (I assume because they know they might lose and then they'd be lost).
I once had an argument with a mental health professional about what "psychological" meant.

Her: "anxiety is psychological"
Me: "well yeh sure, to some degree but it's still biological"
Her: "no, its psychological"
Me: "yes, but its still physically in the brain"
Her: "no, its psychological"
Me: "psychological is still biology, you can't think without a brain"
Her: "no, but its thoughts"
Me: "I know, but thoughts have a biological basis"
Her: "Anxiety is psychological"

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg.

There was also an argument once after an "event" where a mental health professional started telling me about how mental health problems were due to "chemical imbalances" which infuriated me.

I typically tend to just pretend I don't know anything any more unless the person indicates they can handle anything else nowadays. Literally just say what I have to say to get the outcome I want.


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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splendidbob View Post
I once had an argument with a mental health professional about what "psychological" meant.

Her: "anxiety is psychological"
Me: "well yeh sure, to some degree but it's still biological"
Her: "no, its psychological"
Me: "yes, but its still physically in the brain"
Her: "no, its psychological"
Me: "psychological is still biology, you can't think without a brain"
Her: "no, but its thoughts"
Me: "I know, but thoughts have a biological basis"
Her: "Anxiety is psychological"

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg.
Sounds like an intellectual heavyweight, you did well to make it out in one piece.

If we all band together I think we can take them. I won't reveal my tactics but lets's just say "I know you are but what am I" will feature heavily.

I wonder who's worse at answering direct questions if it means going off script, therapists or politicians.

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post #16 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:43 PM
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It's irrational in the way we area responding to the present "threat" being pple and social situations.
However it's very rational given most SA is formed due to adverse social experiences. It's human to generalize, so if your mom treated you like **** or you weer bullied to hell, it's very rational to hide and generalize that fear to others. It's when that hiding no longer serves you is where it becomes an issue.

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post #17 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 01:49 PM
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Can't speak for everyone else, but I know that my social anxiety is irrational. I have this feeling where I think that I can read everyone's mind. I've been focusing on trying to get rid of that feeling as it is irrational.. nothing but complete nonsense
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post #18 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 02:59 PM
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Social Anxiety Institute is FULL OF **** and looking to make money! It's not irrational to have social fears! You always hear that we're "social creatures", and humans must have social interaction to be healthy. It's part of our survival!

Well... what if you're too awkward to get enough social interaction? Or how about someone has some sort of physical appearance when they were younger, and they were picked on? The fears are very real and many of them have a rational basis. How is it irrational to fear not having a girlfriend? How is it irrational to fear not having food? It boils down to this: If we cannot interact with others, we cannot survive, or at least survive in any prosperous way.

You could take the most social butterfly and put them on a deserted island for 4 years, and the odds are, they will come back with some form of social anxiety.

All that said, I truly believe we can all become confident with ourselves if we put in some effort. But I'm certainly not doing it to appease organizations like the Social Anxiety Institute.
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post #19 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 04:34 PM
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Yes I think I agree with the article. I'm completely aware. I tell myself.

--Who cares about these people.
--You will never see them again.
--What they think doesn't matter.
--There are 7 billion people with 7 billion different opinions.
--Life is one big cosmic joke anyway and we are just a blip in the space time continuum in a Universe that is 14 billion years old. We are insignificant. We aren't even fleas on a dog. We are the parasite that lives in the cells of the parasite that lives in the fleas that sit on the dog in the Universe. Heck, there could be an infinite amount of universes.
-- Nothing will exist eventually anyway. No history. No humans. No Earth. No Sun. So if everything will disappear and everything will be forgotten then nobody has a legacy and there's nobody to impress.


You see I could cut it up anyway you want to tell myself how stupid it is to be scared of another human in this short life we have but it doesn't matter what I tell myself because I'm sick and the panic attack will begin whether I like it or not.
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post #20 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 04:42 PM
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Anyone who thinks Anxiety is rational needs to read a book on the Human Ego.

Adyashanti - Emptiness Dancing.

Eckhart Toll - The power of now.


Read up on the mind and the human ego to see why Anxiety is completely irrational.
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