Scopophobia: definition, causes, how to overcome it?

What was the most embarrassing moment of your life? You may have several in mind, or just one, that marked you strongly. This feeling may be accompanied by a spontaneous shame for the judgment of others. But in some cases, shame systematically overwhelms us in publicerodes our self-confidence and becomes paralyzing.

Definition: What is Scopophobia?

Scopophobia, the Greek etymology of which literally means “fear of the gaze of others”, is an anxious manifestation, characterized by the permanent fear of being seen or observed by others† It is not considered the symptom of another disease, but of a psychological phenomenon that manifests itself spontaneously.

She is considered social and specific phobia, because it manifests itself only in public. Little known and often discredited, may be associated with: pathological fear of drawing attention to oneself† Conversely, scopophilia refers to the joy or excitement of being seen and perceived.

Symptoms of scopophobia manifest once the person is exposed in public to an uncomfortable social situationfor example, when speaking in public, when they are praised and/or reprimanded in front of others, when they have to answer the phone in public, etc.

They differ from person to person, but remain easily recognizable:

  • dizziness,
  • timid look,
  • dry mouth,
  • hyperventilation,
  • excessive sweating,
  • tightness in the chest and a lump in the throat,
  • muscle tremors or twitches,
  • and so forth

Why am I afraid of the judgment of others?

As is the case with most phobias, scopophobia usually manifests itself after a traumatic experience acted in youth and became invasive:

  • an old situation, very badly experienced in public;
  • significant teasing because of a physical difference;
  • repeated attacks and humiliation by parents or relatives (harassment);
  • and so forth

Scopophobia may be associated with other phobias

Scopophobic patients are often anxious in nature and suffer from anxiety disorders or other associated specific phobias, including: erytrophobia (the fear of blushing).

Scopophobia is also often associated with schizophrenia and others psychotic disorders.

Note: In some cases, victims of scopophobia can develop voyeuristic tendencies (Compensation mechanism for reassurance).

Pathological fear of the gaze of others: what management?

Victims of scopophobia generally tend to: avoiding situations that may trigger their phobia† A strategy that can have a strong impact on their daily lives. Hence the importance of consulting a mental health professional who specializes in treating phobias.

As a first step, behavioral and cognitive therapy can be instituted to: quickly relieve the patient† It consists of performing theoretical exercises to restructure wrong thoughts. Little by little, when the patient is less anxious, we set a graduated exposure strategy to dire situations.

In certain severe cases, in addition to therapeutic monitoring, a psychiatrist may prescribe: benzodiazepines, antidepressantsor beta blockers.

Our advice to overcome the fear of the gaze of others

Boost your confidence

It is important to work on self-confidence, because there is a very strong correlation between the way we see ourselves (positive or negative) and our level of sensitivity to the reactions or comments of others. Getting to know all these aspects of ourselves makes us stronger in the way others see us and their way of looking has less impact.

Look at others

The view of the people around us is important to us because it helps to build our human relationships. It is normal to want to please others and to be afraid of disappointing them. An effective way to break the vicious circle is: focus on others instead of yourself† When we are kind and caring, we care less about the judgment of others, because we know that our intentions are good, even if they are misinterpreted. This change of attitude offers great freedom of mind.

Learn to divide your attention

Sometimes the judgment of others is justified: we just did something stupid. But that doesn’t mean we have to blame ourselves for a lifetime. For avoid focusing on our mistakes, we must learn to control our attention. A simple and effective way to achieve this is meditation, or another technique of relaxation and sophrology. If that’s not your thing, you can take action and change your mind in other ways, such as playing a sport or a manual activity that grabs all your attention.

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