Shyness Became an Illness

To think that shyness is actually a medical condition, I wouldn’t have thought of that? For most of us we never knew that being shy means we were ill. Well not general shyness but the excessive ones which called under more serious, medical names such as social phobia, social anxiety and avoidance personality.

These conditions have been classified by medicine as forms of mental disorders which when left alone could result to destructive behaviors, suffering, and the ability to live a normal life. 

Only recently, Christopher Lane of Northwestern University has questioned the old way of thinking and said maybe medicine acted too harsh and too quick to in deciding to change the definitions of shyness in the "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders."

Believe it or not this book is a prime resource material by various groups like insurance companies,courts, and schools consult when questions regarding when situations of mental health arise.

Although, updates on disease definition and treatment approaches are absolutely necessary especially in a filed as progressive as medicine, Lane argued that some of the changes in the book like the ones regarding shyness and general mental conditions were not necessary at all.

But our understanding of things constantly change. Take for example the word "mental illness." The concept today has a far broader definition than, let’s say, 20 years ago. This always changing view of things also affect how we diagnose conditions that are pretty vague to start with, like shyness.

And because symptoms of shyness include avoidance of personal interactions, uneasiness feelings towards other people, and not finding anyone to talk to, diagnosing a person with excessive shyness is no longer that difficult. As long as the psychiatrist sees the symptoms as more than what is normal, they can prescribe any medicines that supposedly treats, or provide relief from those symptoms.

Moreover, according to Lane making shyness a disease contributed to the rise of medicines that claim to tackle the supposed chemical imbalance in the brain or some of the biological conditions that could have an contributed to the fact that people are sometimes shy.

Psychiatrists stand firm on their belief that the regular shyness is totally different from its excessive form, social anxiety disorder. And being a psychological problem, shyness can manifest in physical forms. Shyness can affect your full potential, preventing you to go ahead and grab the opportunity especially if that chance is staring at your in face.

My personal take on the matter, in the perspective of an ordinary person, is that medicine has over played its hand in addressing the condition of shyness. I agree with Lane that the change in the medical working and conceptual definitions of the term was unnecessary to start with.


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