Essay Writing Sample: Abnormal Psychology: Social Phobias
Posted by: Write My Essay on: November 22, 2018

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This research paper highlights abnormal behavior, specifically social phobia, as a common yet less understood phenomenon. Generally, there are many types of abnormal behaviors, but this paper provides in-depth information on social phobias. It highlights some of the major symptoms of this complication and the main reasons as to why it is classified as an abnormal behavior. To improve the legitimacy of the arguments, the paper brings in the biopsychosocial understanding of the condition to show how the human genes and the environment can sometimes bring about various conditions that can be classified as abnormal behaviors. Furthermore, the paper provides empirical and theoretical evidence to supports its arguments on this particular psychological complication. It does so, by highlighting some of the primary causes of social phobia and the possible treatments for the given complications. Finally, it incorporates a recent research study conducted on individuals with such tendencies.

Girls standing apart from others in school — Image by © Heide Benser/Corbis

Abnormal Psychology: Phobias

Abnormal psychology primarily deals with the study of unusual patterns of behavior, tendencies, and emotions, which cannot easily be classified as a mental disorder. One of the most common forms of abnormal behavior is known as phobia. Simply put, this refers to a unique anxiety disorder that is physically exhibited by a constant irrational fear of objects or a particular situation. This type of abnormal behavior will often occur based on an almost instantaneous response to the above triggers, and it might persist for more than six months. In most cases, the individual is unable to contain the situation or set of events that usually leads to the actual phobia (Hersen & Ammerman, 2000). This behavior is usually classified as abnormal since the sufferer often has an unusual reaction as when compared to other individuals in the same situation. In other words, while some individuals might not suffer from any fear-related responses to a particular situation, the individual with this kind of phobia suffers from increased levels of stress in a similar setting. In an instance where the sufferer is unable to avoid the setting or situation, he/she often experiences significant amounts of stress, which can be uncomfortable. This paper explores social phobia based on empirical and theoretical evidence. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

Phobias can be categorized into three main groups. This includes social phobias, specific phobias, and agoraphobias. Some of the common symptoms of such an abnormal social responses include fainting, panic attacks, stomachaches and increased blood pressure.  Common among these is social phobia. According to Heinberg (1995), social phobia can persist for several years if left untreated. Heinberg (1995) further argues that this type of abnormal behavior often occurs based on a series of assumptions that makes the individual to be afraid being in certain social settings. Once an individual perceives any social setting in this manner, his/her anxiety system is automatically triggered. In the physical sense, this is exhibited by increased production of adrenaline and stress hormones such as cortisol. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Social phobias are part of a series of cognitive and instinctual behaviors that are deemed to be hereditary. ` This phobia was supposed to be some form of survival mechanism to a perceived danger or threat. Heimberg (1995) asserts that when the fear of the social setting is more imagined than real, “this makes it a rather redundant response for survival.” A significant portion of individuals with social phobia will often complain that the fear in a social situation is often exacerbated when they feel as if they are at the center of attention. This is often caused by the unusual perception that everyone is watching them, which they find rather aversive. Worth noting is the fact that an individual with normal responses would in such a setting never demonstrate any form of fear response at all.

There are various causes of social phobia. The first notable cause is the physical and hormonal changes in the body. To be specific, the affected individual might often perceive blushing as making a fool of themselves, or they might perhaps perceive an increased heartbeat rate as a direct indication of an impending danger. More so, these individuals will often be preoccupied with unnecessary thoughts or their physical responses, such that they fail to recognize social cues from their counterparts. This often leads to increased sense of abnormal fear response since they interpret the lack of reaction from their counterparts or social peers as an impending danger.

Several psychological research methods have been used to show that individuals with social phobia will often have a fixation on a material that corresponds to their abnormal behavior. One such study demonstrated that individuals with social phobia will selectively process social stimulus that they perceive as a danger (Asmundson & Stein, 1994). The study involved twenty-four persons who had social phobia and twenty normal individuals who were engaged in computer tests to determine their visual responses to particular stimuli. It was established that when there was more activity in the spatial brain, the individuals with social phobia would respond more to social threats than to physical threats (Asmundson & Stein, 1994). This was immediately pointed out as an unusual response or pattern of behavior in indi viduals. On the contrary, this pattern was not seen in people with normal behavior patterns. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Although these figures are notable, they also play a major role in underscoring the importance of non-genetic factors when it comes to the variations in abnormal behaviors such as phobias. In fact, various other studies have shown that people-specific experiences serve as the primary factors when it comes to developing phobias to events such as being bitten by a dog. Based on such information, it is important to note that the ‘nature versus nurture’ theory plays a major role in social anxiety (Benson & Haith, 2009). Additionally, some medical practitioners might be quick to highlight that this scenario is more complex that it seems- this ‘nature versus nurture’ theory is just but an understatement of the complexity of this unusual complication. They usually argue that individuals are different when it comes to responding to stressful situations and fear as well. This is because, while some people might be unmoved by any given situation or event, the social-phobic person might develop an abnormal response to the situation (Hersen & Ammerman, 2000).[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

From the above analysis it is apparent that there is no explanation for an individual’s abnormal behavior that is concretely right or accurate – it is just right based on certain scenarios. As a result, an individual’s’ fear of social settings might arise from a frightening encounter that occurred even from childhood. However, it should also be noted that the abnormal behavior might be increased by an individual’s susceptibility to develop fears in response to certain situations. In some aspects, this response might be, in part, caused by inconsistencies in the human genes (Schmidt & Schulkin, 1999).

Recent advancements in the medical field have increased the chances of recovery from such a complication. Some of the notable methods used in the medical context today include psychotherapy, exposure therapy, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques. Psychotherapy often involves several counseling sessions attended by the client with a certified psychologist to determine the best medical approach for the complication. Exposure therapy involves placing the client in situations that often lead to phobia in the first place and using techniques such as positive reinforcement to eliminate these fears. Finally, Neuro-Linguistic Programming involves the use of special hypnosis techniques and special language to reprogram the individual’s responses to the phobia. The levels of the effectiveness of any given treatment are also subject to various factors. For instance, the competence of the medical practitioner, the patient and the duration of time required to administer the treatment as well.


Asmundson, G. & Stein, M. (1994). Selective processing of social threat in patients with generalized social phobia: Evaluation using a dot-probe paradigm. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 8(2), 107-117.

Benson, J. & Haith, M. (2009). Social and emotional development in infancy and early childhood (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Academic.

Heimberg, R. (1995). Social phobia (1st ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Hersen, M. & Ammerman, R. (2000). Advanced abnormal child psychology (1st ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Schmidt, L. & Schulkin, J. (1999). Extreme fear, shyness, and social phobia (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

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