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Elective mutism as a variant of social phobia.

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  • 1Section on Anxiety and Affective Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


To examine the relationship between the syndromes of elective mutism and social phobia, a case of elective mutism associated with social phobia in a 12-year-old girl is presented, and the clinical literature regarding the syndrome of elective mutism is reviewed. Elective mutism or reluctance to speak in unfamiliar social situations may be a symptom of social phobia. Social anxiety is a nearly universal characteristic of children manifesting the syndrome of elective mutism. Elective mutism may respond to treatment with medications that also are effective in the treatment of social phobia. Elective mutism may be a manifestation of social phobia rather than a separate diagnostic syndrome. Pharmacologic treatment may be effective.

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