Feminizing Dsm-5: Definition of Social Anxiety Disorder

In DSM-5 by Liliyan Hassan0 Comments

DMS-5: Definition of Social Anxiety Disorder

The Current DSM-5 Definition:
A. A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating.

Above, we have the first part out of 7 that define Social Anxiety Disorder in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.

Again, above we have part A. And I do want to stop on part A since it is very problematic due to the fact that the ideas within it are not primary in relation to mental health for one to say, for example, that if a person is “exposed to scrutiny by others”, that this is truly in relation to the person and not in relation to the person who is scrutinizing them. Not only that, but scrutiny is a complex behavior that is often met by a person in a vibe that feels like a “static network” (as far as I imagine it to be given that I have never been under scrutiny as a woman) and where the anxiety is not coming from the person experiencing it but it is a “projected anxiety”. The projection of this anxiety is coming through “anger”, “condescending remarks”, “power and control”, “sexist entitlement over the life of a woman as to have the right to speak to her in a “certain” manner” that is sometimes subjected onto men as well (specially homosexual men), the inability of a woman to fight back properly that is sometimes subjected onto men as well (specially homosexual men), and the possibility of violence and the escalation of a situation (past that which is seen as reasonable and excessive…as mentioned by Part C which I will get to later) that is also sometimes subjected onto men (specially homosexual men)… these are just few aspects of “scrutiny” that one cannot sum up as a primary definitive aspect since I would say that if you are going to scrutinize me, then I shall not be a happy person but I shall be very anxious indeed.


Persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations

So I came up with this joke while hearing a rooster crow outside early in the morning: why does the rooster crow in the morning? He is eager to perform early in the morning. He looks like it too.  Wings flapping and everything… I came up with this joke as soon as I opened my eyes in order not to curse him out instead. Either that or he has persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations.

If women had fear performing, men would become our Xanax as to walk us through it. Hence, what DSM is NOT speaking about is the different type of performance under which the social sphere would be covered as a type of performance for women to walk down the run-way on. Meaning: for women the “social sphere” is performance like (in how she is judged by others) and that does create a sense of anxiety for women that is not part of Social Anxiety Disorders but a part of a problem in society and what it measures as worthy in relation to a man/a woman. Yet, DSM merges that with being “exposed to unfamiliar people” since a woman can come in as a patient who has “fear around unfamiliar people” and that would be covered in relation to “fear of performance situation” without sexism ever being addressed. Although, if a man has anxiety due to sexual performance, then that is a whole other aspect that the DSM separates from “fear around unfamiliar people”.  MEANING: A woman would not know the difference between anxiety experienced due to being around unfamiliar people or if the anxiety is in relation to performance.  And in not knowing the difference, her anxiety is seen as a problem in her and not as a problem in society. But a man would know the difference between an anxiety that happens due to performance or due to being around unfamiliar people.


I need to define embarrassment. A person feels embarrassed in a situation under which s/he was meant to have control over the self or the situation where they were EXPECTING FROM THEMSELVES to remain in control of that situation when, UNEXPECTEDLY TO THEMSELVES, they lose that control in front of, at least, one other human being. For example, a woman walks in an expensive restaurant wearing high heels and she is walking in charge of every step and she is expecting from herself to be in charge of every step she takes… when suddenly, her foot slips and she almost falls. Embarrassed by her original commanding walk failing to be executed as desired, she quickly gets herself together and continues walking feeling a bit embarrassed. Honestly, EMBARRASSMENT is COMICAL and should be comical (to a point of safety being threatened) because it is in regards to a basic mis-step where a person does not measure or execute the elements under which one stays in control (of themselves or a task that they are “proficient at” ) correctly. The comical aspect of this is shown by animals in situations under which, if they were human beings, they would be embarrassed for the way the dog thought it was fetching a ball only to fall in the pool.

Embarrassment is unexpected but when it is expected of one to make sure that embarrassment is not an option, then one can feel anxious about a situation. And this area has to do with being “proficient” in doing something.

In regards to embarrassment, I think that people need to understand it in order not to be so cruel towards other people in relation to such situations where a student, for example, slips and falls or when a student “farts” in class unexpectedly in order for people not to feel bullied or targeted by others. The person him/herself were expecting themselves to be in control too. We need NOT to change the terms of “control” so much as to deem it okay for a person to lose control of themselves, however. Meaning that we should not say, “farting in public is fine” so that people do not feel embarrassed if they were to fart in public due to the fact that one cannot deprive others from their right to be in control of themselves in full due to an occasionally unexpected incident. We can “overlook” such incidents and go on with our lives, instead.


I also need to define HUMILIATION. Humiliation has to do with exposing someone in such fashion as to exaggerate a short-coming as to make the person own it where in owning it, the person is put in a position where s/he would rather not be in that situation and where s/he would be subjected to lose an expected control s/he has expected to have over his/her self and/or the situation. Humiliation may make a person lose interest in an activity s/he may have enjoyed and it may make a person not want to show his/her face to those who have witnessed/have subjected him/her to that situation. Humiliation is enough to change one situation and turn it into another as to make “being present” in that situation something against the will of the person. The difference between “shame” and “humiliation” is that humiliation defines itself in action against the person as for it to be created while “shame” has already defined something as that which a person should feel humiliated to do without a person having to be further humiliated in action as to create it. Meaning: a woman may be shamed due to sex without her having to be brought out in front of the public as to take further action in humiliating her. She is expected to feel humiliated already. Although one can bring that woman out as to take further action in humiliating her in order to confirm that feeling of shame as correct. In essence, if a woman was to be shamed, she is lowered enough for others not to want to associate with her. If she was to be humiliated, then one is expressing this “not wanting to associate with her” in action.

In that, humiliation is acting out what it means to “not want to associate with a person” by associating with a person in a subjective manner instead of just “not associating with that person”. And “not associating with a person” is part of shame where the subjective manner is already insinuated as something a person should feel to have happened already by the shamed behavior the person acted in.

Let us take a look at part A of the DSM definition again:

The Current DSM-5 Definition:
A. A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating.

To be “exposed to unfamiliar people” is an aspect of humiliation where “exposed” is to “be put on display”. To be “around unfamiliar people” is, again, an aspect of being social and is not a problem. Being around unfamiliar people is not really the root of the fear one has in being around unfamiliar people. Possible scrutiny is a thing that needs to be addressed in regards to people scrutinizing others and not to be addressed as an issue in regards to the person who is anxious about such situation. “To fear acting in a way that will be embarrassing” is something in relation to the seriousness of the situation to the person which is something one can address in relation to self-esteem when regarding the individual experiencing anxiety as it is to be addressed in relation to understanding and acceptance in relation to the general public. “To fear acting in a way that will be humiliating” is something that one needs to address the general public about. Hence, we got only one issue that needs to be addressed in regards to a patient when it comes to point A, above: “feeling embarrassed”.

Feeling embarrassed is something that has to do with seriousness in performance being that which, in reality, is exaggerated and is, in reality, unrealistic— AND —where, in being exaggerated and unrealistic by society at large, embarrassment stretches past itself into the area of “making a statement in regards to who a person is”….this would include “test performance”, “meeting new people”, “accomplishing a task”, etc. To address that issue we have two parts:

First, on a social level.

Second, on a personal level.

On a social level, for example: performance in school needs not to be measured in such “Detrimental” manner  as to make a statement in regards to who a person is out of one or two performances. In that, to measure a student through one or two exams will create enough anxiety for that anxiety to become a reference point in a person’s life—thereby making that person more vulnerable to anxiety attacks in the future. And on a social level, the public needs to be addressed in relation to the seriousness and importance of not judging people before giving them the chance to be comfortable around them as the public needs to be addressed in relation to making sure that a few incidents do not define who a person is forever. On a personal level, a therapist can work on making sure that a person’s self esteem is not below the situations s/he are to be exposed to.The person is good enough to have friends and is good enough to be able to afford a few bad performances in life. This, again, needs to be true to reality—which it is currently not— where one can truly afford a bad performance without that making a final statement about who they are. In addition, as I mentioned above, people need to understand the effects of scrutiny towards others as being a thing that speaks about them and not others. To scrutinize others should make one feel anxious and not the other way around.

Social Anxiety has to do with resilience as well where society does not allow room for resilience to be acted upon. Meaning that a person himself/herself is able to “bounce back” from a situation if it was not for others having decided not to give that a chance to happen. In that, Social Anxiety is truly a societal issue that society itself needs to work on. This is where feminists, psychologists, and politicians can work together to create change in society in order to battle Social Anxiety Disorders.

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