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Psychopathology of childhood social phobia.

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Maryland Center for Anxiety Disorders, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park 20742, USA.



To describe the clinical syndrome of social phobia in preadolescent children.


Fifty children with DSM-IV social phobia were assessed with semistructured diagnostic interviews, self-report instruments, parental and teacher ratings, a behavioral assessment, and daily diary recordings. In addition, the behaviors of these children were compared with those of a sample of normal peers.


Children with social phobia had a high level of general emotional over-responsiveness, social fear and inhibition, dysphoria, loneliness, and general fearfulness. Sixty percent suffered from a second, concurrent disorder. Socially distressing events occurred quite frequently and were accompanied by maladaptive coping behaviors. In addition, children with social phobia had significantly poorer social skills. There were few differences based on gender or race.


Children with social phobia suffer pervasive and serious functional impairment. In addition, the clinical presentation suggests specific avenues for psychosocial interventions.

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