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Scopophobia is an excessive fear of being stared at. Like other phobias, the fear is out of proportion to the risk involved. In fact, the anxiety can become so intense that it can keep you from functioning in social situations, including school and work. Most of the time, people who have scopophobia also experience other kinds of social anxiety. Social phobias can also develop as a result of a traumatic event, such as bullying or an accident that changes your appearance.
Scopophobia symptoms vary in intensity from person to person. If you suddenly experience an episode of scopophobia, you may develop any of the symptoms associated with anxiety, including:. Scopophobia can cause you to avoid social situations, even small gatherings with people you know. If you are excessively worried about being scrutinized, it could limit your work life or dating life, and it could cause you to miss out on opportunities to travel or to further your education. In many animal species, direct eye contact als aggression.
With human beings, however, eye contact has many complex social meanings. Eye contact can communicate that someone is giving you their full attention. But if you have scopophobia, you may misinterpret eye contact and other facial cues. Here are some of their findings:. If you have social anxiety, your cone may be wider than average. It may seem as though someone is looking directly at you when they are looking in your general direction — and if you have scopophobia, you may even feel you are being evaluated or judged.
The unpleasant feeling of being stared can intensify if more than one person is in your field of vision. In one study , researchers examined whether people with social anxiety disorder believed that someone nearby was looking at them, as opposed to looking in their general direction. The study showed that people with social anxiety disorder tended to have an enlarged sense of being singled out for attention, but only when there was a second onlooker present.
This tendency to avoid eye contact also affects people with autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. People who are hypervigilant tend to be very good at identifying the s of anger. Other emotions, not so much. The downside of hypervigilance is that it may actually create a cognitive bias — causing you to perceive anger in neutral expressions. Looking hard for any of anger or upset may increase your belief that someone who is looking at you is feeling something negative, even if they are not.
If you have scopophobia, it may help to know that roughly 12 percent of the adult population has also experienced a social anxiety disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends two different forms of therapy for people who want to recover from social phobias:. Some anxiety symptoms may be relieved by medication. Talk to your doctor to see if your specific symptoms could be responsive to prescribed medications. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America can help you locate a support group in your area. If you feel a rising sense of anxiety from an episode of scopophobia, you can take some practical self-care actions to calm yourself:.
Scopophobia is excessive fear of being stared at. It is often associated with other society anxieties. During an episode of scopophobia, you may feel your face flush or your heart race. You might begin sweating or shaking. Because the symptoms can be unpleasant, you may avoid social situations that provoke episodes of scopophobia, but prolonged avoidance can interfere with the way you function in your relationships, at school, at work, and in other areas of your daily life.
Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy may help you develop coping skills, and your doctor may prescribe medications to deal with your symptoms. During an episode of scopophobia, you can practice relaxation techniques or reach out to someone supportive to bring you some immediate relief. Dealing with scopophobia is difficult, but you are not alone, and there are reliable treatments available to help you manage symptoms and move toward healthier interactions. A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you will experience a deep sense of dread, and sometimes panic.
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Here's what causes it and how to treat it. Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph. Related anxiety disorders. How scopophobia affects you in real life. Avoiding eye contact — why it matters. What you can do about scopophobia. Quick strategies. The bottom line. Read this next. Common and Unique Fears Explained. How to Identify and Treat a Food Phobia.
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Medically reviewed by Karin Gepp, PsyD. Medically reviewed by Jeffrey Ditzell, DO. Herpetophobia, the Fear of Lizards and Snakes. Medically reviewed by Nathan Greene, PsyD.Looking around for the one
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