Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking and not a chronic disease or psychological disorder. It is a social phobia or social anxiety disorder that affects four out of ten people in the world. Approximately 75 percent of people across the globe experience some nervousness, hesitation, and fear during public speaking.
The term “Glossophobia” originated from the Greek word “Glossa” that refers to the tongue and “Phobos” that means fear. Many people experience this fear of extreme level whereas some people suffer from other social phobias.
Glossophobia & Social Phobias
Most people having Glossophobia do not reflect features of any other social phobia. For instance, fear of meeting or interacting with new unknown people and dreadfulness in performing any task in front of other people. It is one of the categories of social phobias. However, stage fear is a common symptom of this disorder.
In exceptional cases, people with this phobia have been found to give stage performances (singing, dancing, etc.) smoothly as long as they don’t require talking to anyone.
- Fearful event experiences
- Traumatic experiences in the past
- Genetic factor
- Internal predisposition
- Fear of failure while speaking
- Memories of a distressful event of childhood related to public speaking
The symptoms include avoiding events of public speaking, fear of verbal communication with a group or getting tensed while thinking of interaction with a group, community or masses. The symptoms of Glossophobia are categorized into three sections:
The physical symptoms arise due to a sympathetic nervous system that is a part of the autonomous nervous system. It reacts to a condition with “fight-or-flight” response. The adrenaline hormone secretion provokes various symptoms at the same time that stimulates a person’s ability to resist or escape from a dangerous situation. These symptoms include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Dry mouth
- Acute hearing problem
- Paced up heart rate
- Stiffening of the neck or upper back muscles
- Increased oxygen intake
- High perspiration
- Quivering voice caused by tension
As per the reported cases of speech disorder, many of them occur by stress that is present during public speaking. Many Glossophobics successfully perform on stage as long as they don’t see the audience. The group performances like a choir, band or group of dance or play mitigate the phobia of public exposure from individuals.
Rarely, some people experience nausea and vomit due to the influence of stress or anxiety. The verbal signs and symptoms of Glossophobia include a stressed, tensed voice, quivering voice, and frequent pauses while speaking or performing. Dysfunctional speech anxiety is a form of specific speech anxiety. The severity of fight or flight response resists an individual to perform.
About every field in the career relates with public speaking anyway. From participating in group meetings, discussions, giving presentations to speech and many other things, all is about public speaking. If Glossophobia is left untreated and increases to an advanced level, it would be difficult for an individual to perform the crucial tasks. Consequently, one can lose their goals, job or confidence.
The sufferers with other social phobias are also at risk of suffering from conditions like depression and anxiety-related disorders. Sometimes people start feeling isolated that often leads to extreme anxiousness.
There is no specific diagnostic technique available for glossophobia. A psychotherapist can only observe or ask about the symptoms and issues one is facing. Exposure to the phobia trigger can help in the detection of the disorder.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
It consists of the interrelation of thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and CBT enabling an individual to manage his/her fear by gradually changing the pattern of thinking. This phobia leads to the automatic negative thoughts that result in phobic behavioral reactions when encountered to public speaking platforms. CBT is the combination of Social learning theory and cognitive theory.
Relief or relaxation technique facilitates the cure of phobias and maintains mental as well as physical health.
It soothes the body and nerves. A mindfulness-based stress reduction is a form of meditation that helps people suffering from glossophobia or another social anxiety to regulate their emotions better.
It is another relaxation technique that reduces the overall stress level.
It is the process of going through a series of positive and soothing images that relaxes the mind and reduces the phobic nature.
Progressive muscle relaxation
This technique involves the procedure of contracting and relaxing each muscle group rhythmically. It begins from feet first and then spreads to other parts of the body.
With the prescription of mental care by a professional, one can go for medicines that reduce the anxiety and phobia.
- The antidepressants (SSRIs) Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, etc. are useful in lowering social phobia anxiety.
- Beta-blockers are used to suppress depression.
- Benzodiazepines fall in the category of mild tranquilizers that are effective medicines for anxiety.
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI) are also effective medicines.
Counseling & Exposure Technique
The specialist can give counseling to the Glossophobic person by saying “everyone makes a mistake if you also make that does not make any difference, and you don’t have to afraid of that.” Prepare the person to get exposed to his/her fear repeatedly. By doing this a person gradually loses the fear of public speaking.
Glossophobia is a form of easily treatable social anxiety. Also, following the proper therapy or technique genuinely lead to a better outcome. This syndrome gets cured through medicines and psychotherapies. Early diagnosis is directly proportional to prognosis. Regular exercise, relaxation, and prompt treatment result in a favorable prognosis.