Having worked with over 10,ooo individuals of all ages with social and performance anxiety since 1978, the most common statements I’ve heard have been “I don’t have anything to say” and “I don’t know what to say”. The reality is that in most cases the individual’s internal critical script is censoring the risk of verbal communication because of fear of embarrassment, shame, rejection, and negative evaluation. In other words, the individual’s negative recycling of thought and emotion results in verbal shutdown and interactive avoidance.
The rise of technology and texting obviously has increased productivity on a society-wide basis. That being said, the proliferation of texting had “enabled” a worldwide condition of selective mutism as the neural pathways required for verbal communication have been dramatically under-developed.
In fact, selective mutism is the most obvious precursor for fear of public speaking, which is the #1 phobia in the world! This reference is not only to public speaking in a formal setting, but speaking in public in general.