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Social Phobia and the Office Environment

Everyone is afraid of something. This most fundamental, critical rule of human existence may be among the oldest reasons for the human need to socially interact. To a certain extent, it is arguable that all society is based on the foundation that we are playing off each other's fears. However, while it is normal for everyone to have fears, not everyone has a phobia. The phobia, which is essentially an unreasonable fear that is firmly rooted in a person's psychology, can sometimes be difficult to spot. In general, they don't so much affect a person's social and professional standing as other disorders might.

Yet, there are some people that must deal with the prospect of having to face a phobia at work on a daily basis. While the so-called “fear of work” has yet to actually be recognized by any concrete authority in the field of psychology, there are some genuine fears that can be found within the office environment. The most prominent and most crippling of these might be the fear of social interaction. Regardless of how ridiculous it might sound, the fear of interacting with other human beings on any basis – regular or otherwise – is something that is very real, and very damaging. It is people that have this particular phobia that might find in extreme discomfort on a daily basis when going to their workplace.

This problem has only recently been explored as a possibility by various authorities in the psychological field. Forcing someone to confront their fears, provided those fears are the regular sort, can be a positive experience. It allows them to overcome their fears and better adjust to situations where such things cannot be avoided. However, it is known that forcing someone to confront a phobia can result in far more damage than even the phobia itself. It might intensify the problem, resulting in some aspect of the person's professional life breaking down. It might also just drive home the problem, enforcing the perceptions that serve as the root of the problem itself. One of the core issues of this situation is that a social phobia need not manifest in the ways people expect. A person may not show the overt signs of being uncomfortable around people, but people that are afraid of social interaction tend to act a little strangely, by most people's standards. It might manifest as little more than excessive blushing when the attention is directed towards them, or it might take the form of a general unwillingness to participate in the company's social events, like a Christmas party. People with a social phobia that are trapped in an office environment need not react in the dramatic manner that the general population expects them to.

In most cases, aside from being slightly strange or antisocial (a mislabel), most casual observers would probably not suspect at all. Since the condition can be extremely difficult to spot, it isn't surprising that a vast number of people don't get help or treatment. For some people, leaving a good job and prospective career is the only option they have for dealing with extreme cases of social anxiety. For others, they stay at work but never really develop any real relationships with their co-workers and develop a slight paranoia about being seen as “the weird one.


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