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Scopophobia

Whether we are able to acknowledge it or not, when we step out into public we are essentially stepping directly into the public eye. In public, people may look or even stare at us depending on the circumstance. At a party, for instance, we may become the center of attention in a conversation if the topic happens to turn towards us. While this attention may be flattering for some people, it can be absolutely terrifying for others. A fear of being stared at, called Scopophobia, can inhibit us from many social experiences. A sufferer will be unable to properly communicate due to feelings of panic or terror once all eyes turn on them.

Symptoms of Scopophobia

The symptoms usually associated with scopophobia are found in a variety of anxiety disorders and other phobias. Since scopophobia can be commonly traced back to a fear of being unfairly judged or negatively viewed in a social situation, these attacks commonly occur in public places where the attention can be shifted on the individual. Panic attacks usually follow these situations, where a person may suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Muscle Tension
  • Dizziness
  • Uncontrollable shaking or trembling
  • Excessive eye watering or redness of the eyes

Treatment of Scopophobia

These physical responses to the fear can eventually cause extensive damage to your personal life and mental well-being. If you are motivated to find a change, there are a variety of treatment options available that can help you cope with stressful situations or maybe even remove the phobia completely. Through treatment, many people suffering from this condition are encouraged to gradually expose themselves to their perceived fears in order to learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. A scopophobic person may be stared at as part of their treatment, then asked to describe their feelings and thoughts regarding the process. There are two possible positive outcomes in this scenario: a person may eventually become desensitized to being stared at or they will be able to identify the root of their fears and begin treatment on that specific issue.

There are two different kinds of phobias a person may have to deal with, social phobias or specific phobias. Social phobias involve social settings and may include a performance anxiety or a fear of being judged or ridiculed unfairly by those around them. Specific phobias deal with very detailed fears that include a panic trigger, such as seeing a snake or being in an airplane. The fear of being stared or looked at can be considered a combination of both as the phobia stems from a specific type of interaction which usually arises from a social situation.

In scopophobia is left untreated, it will begin to negatively impact your personal life and relationships. If you feel like this process has already started, it may be time to seek out professional treatment options. A positive internal motivation for change is the most useful tool in overcoming your fear and it is never too late to begin treatment.

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