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Clin Psychol Rev. 2004 Nov;24(7):769-97.

The nature and expression of social phobia: toward a new classification.

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Department of Psychology, Boston University, 648 Beacon Street, 6th Fl, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Social phobia (social anxiety disorder) was officially recognized as a distinct clinical entity only with the publication of the DSM-III in 1980. Research on the psychopathology of this disorder has revealed a great degree of heterogeneity in its symptomatology. In order to acknowledge this heterogeneity, later versions of the nosological system introduced the generalized subtype of social phobia to describe individuals who fear most or all social situations. The empirical literature on the differences between the diagnostic subtypes has yielded inconsistent findings. Based on the recent emotion literature and concepts from evolutionary psychology, we discuss fearfulness, anxiousness, shyness, self-consciousness, submissiveness, and anger as dimensions of social phobia. The empirical evidence for this classification system and its relationship to the diagnostic subtypes will be discussed.

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