The impact of stuttering on self-esteem and on psychological well-being can be very severe. People suffering from it experience anxiety or even fear when they have to pronounce certain consonants or vowels and when they are involved in social situations. Quite frequently they withdraw into social isolation. In many cases, in fact, stuttering is associated to social anxiety.
Social Anxiety, also known as social phobia, is a widespread anxiety disorder (Ruscio et al., 2008; Slade et al.,2009). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association. 2013) defines it as an intense fear of social situations, especially those in which the subject is put to test, judged or examined. Feared situations include public speaking, meeting new people, speaking to superiors (Ballenger, 1999). In such situations subjects can even display physical or motor symptoms such as blushing, shaking, sweating, inability to speak and fear that others may notice these responses (Bogels et al., 2010). Typical reactions to these situations are anticipatory anxiety, stress and avoidance. For these reasons people who suffer from social anxiety tend to avoid academic and professional situations that they perceive as threatening (Cuthbert, 2002) and this avoidance strategy negatively influences academic performance, social interactions and quality of life (Stean & Kean, 2000). Not surprisingly, social anxiety is associated to low self-esteem, low levels of education, economical dependence and to being single (Stein & Kean, 2000).
A specific form of social anxiety is the so-called test anxiety. Experimental studies demonstrated that students with high levels of anxiety tend, not surprisingly, to have poor academic results. Constant academic failures have strong repercussions that aren’t limited to academic and personal life (Baker et al., 2009). For students, these extreme levels of anxiety constitute a true invalidating factor (Zeidner, 1998). Those suffering from it report nausea, panic attacks, sleep problems and the absolute inability to face exams (Kring, Davison, Neale, &Johnson, 2007). This phenomenon constitutes a growing and alarming problem in Anglo-Saxon countries (there are no recent data regarding Italy). Hypnosis is a methodology that not only has a long history, but, most importantly has remarkable success in overcoming severe forms of anxiety, such as those related to acute stress disorder (Bryant, Moulds, Guthrie, & Nixon, 2005), post traumatic stress disorder and test situations (Baker e colleghi, 2009).
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