Since 1978 I have been developing an integrated therapeutic methodology to address the specific needs of social anxiety sufferers. This process has been the exact opposite of trying to fit social anxiety into the narrow confines of one already existing therapeutic modality.
Approximately fifteen years ago I integrated the work of John E. Sarno into my treatment architecture.. It has demonstrated remarkable clinical results! John E. Sarno, MD is world renowned for his work with pain. His treatment methodology for pain and a condition he identifies as Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) is based on the dynamic of bringing repressed anger and rage to a conscious level. This repressed anger is so powerful that it inhibits the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream creating pain. The connection of emotion to physiology has profound implications for treatment efficacy. I have discovered in my treatment of thousands of anxiety sufferers that the same dynamic is not only at play, but is in fact a core etiology.
Consider the psycho-physiological (mind-body) component of social and performance anxiety. Non acceptance, and anger, as a response to adrenaline exacerbates nervous system activity, which drives adrenaline, which causes panic. This is the physiological component of social and performance anxiety. The unrealistic expectations of perfectionism, which is a symptom of insecurity and a component of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, are major investments in the anger and rage associated with challenged self-esteem. In other words, when one’s internal critical script delivers unrealistic and toxic messages to the” inner child” (emotions) the result is anger, rage, emotional pain, sadness, fear and feelings of unworthiness in the unconscious mind. These emotions are driven by the sustained and obsessive unrealistic inner critical script. This is the emotional and cognitive component of social and performance anxiety.
Please do not confuse this psycho-physiological explanation, which includes physiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral variables, with the grossly generalized and over-used cliché of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as it is applied to social anxiety treatment.
A visual of mind state dynamics can provide insight into what I am addressing. Please click here to view “Before” and “After” ego-graphs. Mind state work is based on the psychology of Transactional Analysis. The key point of these visuals is to view (1) the unbalanced condition in which the excessive internal “critical parent” mind state drives the excessive emotion and behavior of the “adapted child” mind state and (2) the balanced condition in which the excessive influence of the critical parent and adapted child are mitigated by increasing the “nurturing parent”, “adult”, and “natural child” mind states.
It is crucial to understand that, when it comes to social anxiety, mastering a coping technique is not a “cure”. Technique can be a major factor of controlling autonomic hypersensitivity and adrenaline, but without doing the underlying emotional work which Sarno describes as in one’s “reservoir”, treatment will quickly reach the point of diminishing returns. Technique concurrent with core work is the only answer for true resolution of the problem. The beauty of The Sarno Method is that is organizes relevant content in a highly efficient manner.