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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

6:37 pm est          Comments

"I know what people think of me."

Do  you believe this?  People with social anxiety do.  Is it even possible to read people's minds?  Of course not. But there is a good indicator whether someone is comfortable being with you.  It's very simple: they stay with you for 5 minutes. It's not a question of whether someone is comfortable or uncomfortable around you. It's a question of degree, not all or nothing. The question is how uncomfortable are they.  Are they uncomfortable enough to matter?  If they're still with you for 5 minutes then they're not "uncomfortable enough to matter." Or "they're comfortable enough" to want to stay with you. The other question is how frequently are they uncomfortable enough to matter. If they're sometimes staying and sometimes leaving it's a pretty sure bet they're generally comfortable with you. Everyone has competing priorities for their time and also have obligations or other friends they also wish to see.


 So the bottom line is this: People would have to leave you most of the time after just a minute to prove that they're uncomfortable enough to matter.  And what would you have to do to make them want to leave you consistently most of the time? It would have to be something extreme. You'd have to scream and threaten them, punch them in the stomach, or consistently curse them out, not shower for a month, or sleep with their significant other.


So this begs the question: why are people willing to spend time with you, despite the ordinary risk of them once in a blue moon feeling uncomfortable with you? Read future posts to this blog to find out.

6:35 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why is making friends so hard?
Have you ever asked yourself that question?  People with social anxiety do all the time.  They place extreme demands on themselves to be accepted. They think others somehow have cracked a code and know exactly what to do.  They think others are interested only if they know what to say, are smart, attractive, humorous, friendly, outgoing, a good listener, successful, have similar interests, backgrounds and values, etc. It's daunting;  it's also not true.
11:08 pm est          Comments

Monday, November 21, 2016

We cross the street every day without thinking we could be hit by a car.  Does that guarantee we can't be a fatality?  Of course not.  Accidents happen all the time.  We've learned to live with these everyday risks not because we've been reassured, but because we simply are habituated to it.  The good news is that if you've overcome fears of these everyday situations--learning to ride a bicycle, learning to swim, etc.--then you WILL also overcome the anxiety that has put your life on hold.  You, and millions of people going through the same thing, can be hopeful of overcoming this problem once and for all!
6:57 pm est          Comments

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The natural way of overcoming fear
By contrast, we know the more we avoid uncomfortable things, the more we become fearful of them.  In fact, we could make you afraid of something simply by telling you to avoid it, even if you never actually encountered it.  Isn't it surprising how fearful people can be of others who are different from ourselves or who live in other countries, despite never even meeting them?  That's because they grew up being told to avoid certain types of people.  Yet when we are exposed to them long enough, we become more comfortable around them.  In fact people can be quite comfortable with even negative people and negative situations, for better or worse, simply through exposure and familiarity.  As long as they know what they are getting themselves into, good or bad, they're comfortable.
12:07 am est          Comments

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In fact, it is physiologically impossible to remain fearful of anything with continued exposure to it.  Think of firefighters, police, soldiers, doctors, and pilots.  They weren't born fearless; they slowly became that way by exposure to successive approximations of their occupations.  Sadly, this is true even of people in war torn countries.  We are dumbfounded watching people go to work, school, hairdressers, and weddings while bullets fly over their heads.  They've been exposed enough times to become desensitized to it.

9:55 pm est          Comments

Thursday, October 6, 2016

OCD, panic, PTSD, and social anxiety are just like other common phobias.

Exposure is the natural way people overcome fear of anything.  Even the most primitive animal organisms eventually habituate to uncomfortable stimuli through exposure.  We all know people who have phobias--flying, dogs, darkness, tall buildings.  (I have a phobia of mice!)  We know that people overcome these common fears just by gradually getting closer to and spending more time in those feared situations in small baby steps. But those baby steps eventually add up to a dramatic difference.  OCD, social anxiety, and panic are no different from these phobias, except it's harder to avoid thoughts, people, and travel.  But it's the same thing and is equally treatable.

3:34 am edt          Comments

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How do I know I will get better?
Practically anyone can do exposure therapy and get rid of excessive anxiety.  Exposure is the only therapy that is endorsed by all national anxiety organizations, whether it is OCD, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, PTSD, and phobias.  If a therapist does not use exposure as their main technique, they will not help you.  It is not sufficient if they say they use CBT.  CBT is a very general term that includes dozens of techniques, including many that are not helpful to anxiety and some which will make it worse.  Exposure is a special CBT technique specifically for anxiety disorders.

Moreover, you've been doing exposure your whole life and successfully overcome hundreds of fears.  It's normal to be nervous or fearful in a new situation--the first day at a new school or job, the first time you met your significant other, the first time you did a new activity.  Yet you overcame your initial fears by continuing to do the uncomfortable activity; that's exposure!  Some have even become sources of great joy---a new sport or career, a happy marriage, etc.  (to be continued)

4:30 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New article on Wall Street Journal
Here's a follow up on an article I was quoted on 4 years ago.  http://online.wsj.com/articles/where-are-new-yorks-bedbugs-now-1409337589.
4:31 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Check out this article on HOCD on ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/homosexual-ocd-straight-men-fear-gay/story?id=22589452
4:20 pm est          Comments

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