Glossophobia: Fear of public speaking

Although it is common to experience a certain nervous sensation when facing an audience to give a talk, the person who suffers from glossophobia feels  an excessive, uncontrollable and irrational fear  in such a situation.

Such exacerbated fear causes anxiety levels to skyrocket abnormally when speaking in public, and it is not surprising that they tend to avoid this trance.

What is Glossophobia

Glossophobia is the abnormal, persistent, excessive, and irrational fear of public speaking. It is  a type of situational specific phobia  limited to actions related to public speaking.

Those who suffer from it observe such high feelings of anxiety when they have to express themselves in public that it almost always  prevents them from taking such actions .

The difference between this alteration and social phobia lies in the feared element. While in social phobia the fear of the person has to do with any type of activity that needs to be socialized, in the phobia that concerns us, the element that is feared is limited to the activity of speaking in public.

Characteristics of a phobia that prevents public speaking

The anxiety response of the subject with glossophobia when speaking in public is extremely high, to the point that it usually leads to the inability to carry out the activity and, in almost all occasions,  the escape from the feared situation .

At the same time, these subjects have a marked tendency to avoid activities that have to do with speaking in public.

Not surprisingly, they are aware of their impressive fear of these situations and generally choose to avoid them, thus getting rid of the consequent discomfort.

Commonly it ends up having a negative impact on the different areas in which the person operates, such as educational or professional, in the event that the aforementioned activities are developed in them.

However, the fear of a person with this phobia is not only limited to academic or work oral presentations, but also  fears any activity of speaking in public  regardless of the context.

The main characteristics of this phobic fear are:

  1. Excessive fear  It is especially considered this way when compared with the real demands of the situation
  2. Irrational fear  Moreover, the person suffering from this disorder becomes aware that the fear is incongruous and disproportionate
  3. Uncontrollable fear  The aforementioned awareness is not enough for the person to be able to take charge of the situation
  4. Permanent fear.  Its translation is none other than such fear will invariably be experienced every time the person intends to carry out these activities.
  5. Fear that leads to abandonment.  Being able to talk about this phobia implies that the person effectively abandons the performance of the activity of speaking in public, avoiding it at all costs

What difference from shyness

Nerves and / or fear when speaking in public are a common and prevalent phenomenon that is often accentuated in people with a notable degree of shyness.

Despite this, properly understanding this phobia requires starting from the basis that the one we are analyzing is a psychological condition that is considerably different from shyness.

From the outset,  shyness does not constitute any psychopathic disorder  while glossophobia does .

Shyness is a term that is used to define a series of personality traits of the individual that are not considered pathological.

In addition, shy people, although they may also experience high doses of anxiety before, during and after the moment of public speaking, they are finally able to do so, getting out of trouble better or worse.

On the contrary, people with glossophobia show much more marked anxiety responses and a much more intense fear of everything that involves speaking in public.

Such fear usually becomes insurmountable.

In addition, the main difference between this phobia and shyness  lies in the type of fear presented  towards these situations. Thus, while a shy person has a fear of speaking in public qualified as normal, the fear of the person suffering from this alteration is qualified as phobic.

Causes of this anxiety disorder

Glossophobia  does not have a single cause  but there are several factors that can be found involved in its development. Some of the elements that can be associated with it are:

  • The experience of one or more personal traumatic episodes in relation to the activity of public speaking
  • The visualization of one or more traumatic episodes of others in relation to the activity of speaking in public
  • The gradual avoidance of public speaking activity
  • Negative beliefs about the activity of public speaking that have developed during the early stages

Symptoms of fear of speaking to a group of people

  • Intense anxiety prior to, or simply at the idea of ​​having to establish verbal communication with any group of people
  • Attempt to avoid those events that focus the attention of the group of people
  • Dry mouth
  • Moisture in the palms of the hands
  • Physical discomfort, nausea, or a feeling of panic
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased sweating
  • Stiff neck and upper back muscles

How to get over it

Overcoming this phobia goes through  psychotherapeutic sessions , with exposure to the specific phobic element being the main asset to achieve public speaking.

In this line,  cognitive-behavioral treatments  are based mainly on the aforementioned exposure, working in these situations the individual’s anxiety responses to overcome the phobia.

Finally, today there are a multitude of training programs for learning to speak in public that can be useful for controlling anxiety at such times.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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