To the Editor.—
In a Perspectives article, Liebowitz and his associates1 raised the question of defining the characteristics of a condition that they called social phobia.Their concern is clearly legitimate, because the phenomenon to which they refer is not clearly defined nor are its characteristics clearly established or any treatment recognizably effective.Our problem is the term itself. The phenomenon refers to an aversion to exposure to strangers. But not every aversion is a phobia. Exposure to strangers creates discomfort but not necessarily anxiety. The use of the term phobia causes us to investigate the relation of the problem to true phobias.This aversion to social exposure is common among preschizophrenic young people and among schizophrenic individuals in remission. However, it also occurs among individuals who may not become or have not been schizophrenic.The authors raise the question of the usefulness of antidepression medication for the treatment of
Ostow M. Social Phobia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(6):614. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800060108016
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