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Unformatted text preview: te Americans, even when
economic factors, education, and age are held steady across the groups (Hopko et al.,
2008; Breslau et al., 2006). It is worth noting, however, that these heightened rates are
at work only among African and Hispanic Americans who were born in the United
States, not those who emigrated to the United States at some point during their lives
(Hopko et al., 2008).
The impact of a specific phobia on a person’s life depends on what arouses the fear
(Scher et al., 2006). People whose phobias center on dogs, insects, or water will keep
encountering the objects they dread. Their efforts to avoid them must be elaborate and
may greatly restrict their activities. Urban residents with snake phobias have a much
easier time. The vast majority of people with a specific phobia do not seek treatment.
They try instead to avoid the objects they fear (Roth & Fonagy, 2005). Social Phobias
Many people worry about interacting with others or about talking or performing in
front of others. A number of entertainers, from singer Barbra Streisand to actor Sir
Laurence Olivier, have described major bouts of anxiety before performing. Social fears
of this kind are unpleasant and inconvenient, but usually the people who have them
manage to function adequately, some at a very high level. ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 107 table: 4-5
DSM Checklist SPECIFIC PHOBIA
1. Marked and persistent fear of a
specific object or situation that is
excessive or unreasonable, lasting
at least six months.
2. Immediate anxiety usually produced by exposure to the object.
3. Recognition that the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
4. Avoidance of the feared situation.
5. Significant distress or impairment.
Based on APA, 2000. 12/10/09 11:16:13 AM ://CHAPTER 4 AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar 108 Hidden fear
Miami Dolphins running back
Ricky Williams has revealed that
he experiences social anxiety,
a disorder that led him to leave
professional football from 2004
to 2005. People with a social phobia, by contrast, have severe, persistent, and irrational fears of social or performance situations in
which embarrassment may occur (see Table 4-6). A social phobia
may be narrow, such as a fear of talking in public or writing in front
of others, or it may be broad, such as a general fear of functioning
poorly in front of others. In both forms, people repeatedly judge
themselves as performing less adequately than they actually do.
A social phobia can interfere greatly with one’s life (Koury &
Rapaport, 2007). A person who is unable to interact with others or
speak in public may fail to perform important responsibilities. One
who cannot eat in public may reject dinner invitations and other
social opportunities. Since most people with this phobia keep their
fears secret, their social reluctance is often misinterpreted as snobbery, lack of interest, or hostility.
Surveys indicate that 7.1 percent of people in the United States
and other Western countries—around three women for every two
men—experience a social phobia in any given year (see Table 4-7).
Around 12 percent develop this problem at some point in their
lives (Ruscio et al., 2008). It often begins in late childhood or
adolescence and may continue...
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