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Speech Anxiety Case

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The Case of Bill ( I wouldn’t necessarily consider this an intro, but for my part of the paper it probably makes more sense to have this back story on Bill before going into my actual portion of the paper. I hope that makes sense.)

28 year old Bill, is a man who dislikes giving speeches, and recalls that in high school he was uncomfortable giving speeches and in college he despised and avoided speech classes until his senior year. Bill recently received a promotion at his job, and with this promotion he is required to give speeches/briefings on a weekly basis. Bill has been trying to find ways to avoid giving public speaking and to sustain his position at his job, f but has not yet found a solution to his dilemma. In Bill’s situation the fear and panic of speaking overtakes him. Bill seems to be suffering from Glossophobia, or in laymans terms, “stage fright”. Bills fear of public speaking may embody anxiousness, nervousness, jitters or shakiness. The possibility of meeting someone new, speaking in front of your boss, or just speaking in front of a few people can be curtailed by butterflies and sweaty palms.

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Speech anxiety is extremely common and is seen is in majority of people at one point in their life. Becoming nervous about speaking in front of anyone may cause an individual to develop negative self-talk and exacerbate the feelings of anxiousness. Although it can be common to be anxious or nervous before public speaking, Bills case may slightly more intense. Speech anxiety is accompanied by a variety of physical and emotional reactions that can to some degree interfere in his ability to successfully perform. These physical and emotional reactions can range from an intense feeling of anxiety, worry, trembling, sweating, nervousness, shaking, and dizziness. Other symptoms can range from butterflies in the stomach, dry mouth, squeaky voice, and a rapid heartbeat. In Bill’s case his fear of speaking in public goes beyond the normal fear, he goes so far to avoid speaking entirely. This is called self-sabotage, and this is where primary avoidance behaviors become apparent.

Avoidance and Negative reinforcement

Since speaking publicly is an uneasy even for Bill, he would most likely try and distance himself or try and avoid this activity all together. He may disregard the importance of events in his life because he cannot push through this fear. The self-sabotage would be seen by bill avoiding any form of public speaking. Avoiding any social situation where the need to speak publicly may arise, is Bill’s avoidance behavior. “Negative reinforcement refers to a behavior which is rewarded because that behavior removes an unwanted stimulus or feeling” (Cervone and Pervin, 2013). Avoiding social situations so that the event of public speaking does not occur is how negative reinforcement occurs in this scenario. The only option to successfully navigate through his anxiety is to slowly take measures to ease into comfortability with public speaking, seek therapy, or face his head on. As long has he tries to ignore his fear or avoid the possibility of speaking publicly the more his anxiety will increase in the future.

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