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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 May 2004
I've seen this book mentioned many times as a good self-help guide on two online SA communities ([...] and [...]) and on reading it I would recommend it to any SA sufferer. In particular, I think it would be really helpful for someone new to the topic of Social Anxiety, perhaps not sure whether or not they have it, and unclear about how they could use techniques from self-help CBT. There's lots of information here I am familiar with through learning from several web sites, but this book is a real timesaver - it might not have all you need to know about SA, but more than enough to understand your problem and begin to think of possible solutions. The book makes liberal use of lists of key points in bullet-point format, and has many boxes with examples of the terms being discussed, so it's quite understandable too. Rather than just use a jargon term such as "avoidance behaviour" it gives practical examples which you can then see if they apply to you.
For someone new to the subject just being able to recognise "Yes, that's what I've got" can be really helpful. Getting out of denial is the first step to tackling a problem you might have allowed to grow unchecked for years. SA has many signs and symptoms, affecting multiple areas - how you think, how you behave, on your body and emotions. This book helps you understand how these areas are interrelated, how they affect each other, and hence the things that need to be done to tackle the problem. It shows how many "vicious circles" are maintained - an example of a cycle would be
Avoid conversations with people -> Dread conversations -> Tend to blush when they happen -> Avoid the next conversation
Breaking out of these cycles of thinking/ feeling/ acting forms a major part of the book, which is divided into:-
• Changing thinking patterns
• Doing things differently
• Reducing self-consciousness
• Building up confidence (this can also occur through non-social activities)
These four sets of activities all complement each other, and can create a "virtuous circle" where even a small amount of time regularly spent can produce dramatic improvement. Examples are given of CBT-type exercises you can complete (I'd recommend buying a workbook or jotter to complete these in one place, rather than using scrap paper) such as a Thought Record, simply a table where you fill out each of the following categories:-
• Specific situation (think of a situation in which you use a safety behaviour)
• Prediction (what will happen if you do not keep yourself safe? How will you know if it happens?)
• Experiment (How will you find out? What will you do differently?)
• What actually happened? (What did you observe? Stick to the facts.)
• Conclusions (What does this mean?)
After the event you can then re-think your original belief - e.g. asking yourself how much you believe it now (from 0-100 per cent).
The book gives many examples of how our thinking can be faulty (all or nothing thinking, assuming the worst etc) and also how we can substitute better thoughts for the faulty ones (e.g. by thinking what a helpful friend or parent would say to you, or what you would say to a friend who had the same problem). Changing our perspective in this way can be really helpful, and I think it's similar to the idea of "self-parenting" where we come up with our own solutions and more positive ways of thinking about something.
A good idea the book gives is to create "flashcards" with a belief, assumption or negative thought on one side of the small card and a more healthy perspective in response on the other side. I think this would be really helpful for someone wanting to do something they found anxiety provoking (going to a family occasion, meeting someone of the opposite sex). As we all know, in the middle of a stressful situation the negative thoughts and feelings flow easily and thinking up a positive replacement can be much more difficult - having some "Blue Peter" examples which you prepared earlier could be really helpful.
The book is thoroughly grounded in good research and filled with practical advice - there wasn't anything I read that jarred with me or I viewed as author bias. At the same time the book was a little dry to read, not especially motivational for me, and I had the same feeling about completing the CBT exercise as I would about regularly eating oat bran - no doubt good for me but not especially fun. However the more I got into the book the more the tasks required seemed manageable, and believable, and I can see myself applying them in the coming months. If I spent even 30 minutes a day, five times a week, for two months I'm convinced I would progress a lot, so I'm "sold" on the concept of CBT in that sense.
I would say if someone was feeling very depressed they would probably be better off getting treatment for the depression before tackling CBT, and equally if someone felt able to do positive things (such as attending an SA meet or going out and doing something with friends) they'd be better off doing that than staying at home completing CBT exercises. For people in between, however, I think the exercises would be tremendously helpful. If you're not in a position to do anything social at the moment this book is excellent preparation for taking those first steps. If you are feeling a little better, are getting out a bit more, and feeling a bit brighter in general, I think this book will really complement and reinforce what you are doing. No hesitation in recommending this book for anyone with SA, or for anyone wanting to understand and help an SA friend or relative.
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on 8 February 2012
This book is so helpful. I read it in about a week or so and really cracked on with the exercises, the reanalysis of my thoughts consistently slowly showed me how wrong my thought patterns were. I had some great breakthrough moments where I sat there laughing about how ridiculous my thoughts were. My anxiety lessened through doing these exercises, in conjunction I started writing a list of my positive qualities and seeking evidence for them in social interactions, which really helped my self esteem. I also realized that my inhibition and self-monitoring which was killing me, was so easy to overcome, you simply SAY whatever is in your head.

You have to do these exercises. They can feel hard to work through, I found them hard work especially when starting out, but the effort worked, it meant I was fixing things. This does involve exposing yourself, which was a little hard but it got much much easier by working on my thought patterns. Also the more I put myself out there (which this book enables you to do) the less I felt anxious, now I feel confident, so it does involve confronting your fear but the thought exercises enable you to deal with that until your anxiety has died away considerably, if not totally.

So many years I have spent thinking I am boring, soulless, a shell, with no spark, no zest no character. I have been inhibited, afraid to be myself. Anxious to talk to people, shied away from life. This has been the first thing in 3 years that has helped me get over that, to be more myself again, after having severe depression. It's taken away so much fear, so much insecurity and it did so in about a month. I still have some issues with low level depression, which I have realized, but this has helped me so greatly! I no longer analyse myself with a very critical inner voice, I no longer feel awful about myself. I wish I had the patience to sit here and write a more eloquent review and to fully communicate the extent to which this has helped me, but i'll just say this;

In the past three years I have felt full of fear of rejection and I have felt so unlovable and devoid of character. Now I actually feel confident, I don't depend on people's love or acceptance, I don't feel anxious at all interacting with other people & I feel like I am getting some of my old spark and character back and that is amazing.

This book revived me.
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on 24 November 2002
I found this book a really helpful read after many years,from being five years old, feeling like a bit of an outcast in certain situations, and analysing every conversation and meeting for my own blunders. It's an easy book to skim through picking up interesting and reassuring chapters, and makes you realise how common it is to feel uneasy, weird and full of self doubt, and that really even people who appear confident may be going through the same traumas.
The book is helping me to reassure myself in "trying" situations and as my teenage son seems to have inherited some of my self doubt, despite being popular, it's giving me useful advice to give him when he needs it.
The book covers many aspects of shyness/lack of self esteem and would be helpful to any degree of self doubt. I'm really glad I bought it!
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on 30 March 2004
If you have any doubts about yourself at all or any of the symptons described on [...] then you should definitely buy this book.
Through a series of events in my life I began to shut myself of from the world without realising it and everytime I'd get asked to go to a social gathering of any kind I'd be struck by fear and anxiety. I'm not even the whole way through the book yet but already it has been a massive help, confirming and helping realise what my behaving is doing and showing me how to fix myself.
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on 17 January 2008
I had high hopes for this book after reading the glowing reviews on here, but it didn't live up to my expectations. It is very good at describing what it's like to suffer social anxiety and I found myself thinking 'that's me, I feel like that' as I read. However I couldn't get to grips with the solutions suggested e.g. if you are feeling self conscious, you can solve it by deciding not to. It takes a look on the bright side approach and suggests you think about the flip side of situations e.g. everyone's looking at me versus actually, noone is looking at you. The author also states 'being bullied can have lasting effects' and I found myself thinking 'yes, I know that thanks, but what can I do about it?'. This book was good at describing how it feels to be socially anxious but didn't help me overcome the horrible stomach churning tension and desire to run away from such encounters, nor the constant worrying and reflecting that goes with having social anxiety.
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on 9 December 2008
This is a decent book, one of the most widely recommended that I've seen around.

The description/definition of social anxiety was good, something that I would probably give to someone else to read to help them understand it.

The "cognitive" part of the book (explanations of different types of negative thoughts and finding alternatives for them, the tables you can photocopy to fill in to help you keep a record of your progress, etc.) was extremely helpful, and I've seen a lot of improvement in myself after trying (and, most importantly, *sticking*!) with the methods used there.

The "behavioural" part and the chapters on building self-confidence and reducing self-consciousness however, were a bit weak and felt rushed, they let the book down, IMHO. Those chapters basically amounted to (respectively) "find something to do and try to be good at it", and "focus on other people instead of yourself". Hmm, useful :|

I think those parts of the book could have benefitted with more "user participation" as per the "cognitive" part of the book - related writing exercises or tables to fill in (for me personally, that kind of thing helps focus my mind on the problem in hand - it was odd that the first part of the book had numerous such things and the second part had maybe *one*), and just more specific exercises in general.

Also, as another reviewer has already mentioned, the dry tone of the book may not be for everyone.
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on 26 August 1999
Gillian Butler's book shows considerable insight into what it feels like to suffer from Social Phobia. The book is split into three sections, covering:
The definition and causes of Social Phobia;
Practical methods to overcome the problem, (including numerous examples); and
Other useful information on subjects such as relaxation, and the long-term effects of bullying.
This very practical guide has helped me considerably with my own Social Phobia, and I would highly reccomend it to other sufferers.
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on 6 October 2006
I have read variuos books on this topic as I am chronically shy. I shall be reading it again as there are so many things that you would have missed the first time round. If you are shy and really just want someone to tell eactly what to do and how to take the first step to recovery than this is the only book that I have found that does just that.
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on 7 July 2013
I'd never bothered purchasing a self-help book before, imagining they're all full of wishy-washy nonsense like "believe in yourself and you will succeed" and all that jazz, but recently my social anxiety has been getting me down more than usual and while browsing online for help I came across a recommendation for this book.

My GP advised I went to a CBT therapist and I did so for 6 months, but found that as soon the course had finished I slowly slipped back into my old habits of avoiding pretty much everything.
I found this book really easy to read and at times found myself saying out loud "yes! that is so me!". I struggle with the words to describe what it's like to have SA but the way this book explains it really hits the nail on the head.
I'm one of those people with SA that seem to shock others when I say I suffer with it, because I am naturally an extrovert and am very loud/talkative around people I know so the 'shyness' part of the book didn't really apply to me, although I can see how it overlaps with social anxiety.

I find this book great to refer to when i'm feeling worried and the Thought Tables / Maps are really good at pin-pointing where the worries stem from. Often it's very hard to know why you are panicking when you're already in a stressful situation so having it clear as day in front of you really helps you realise how unlikely/ridiculous some of the automatic thoughts are.

I would definitely recommend this book to sufferers of SA / people who aren't sure whether they have it.
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on 12 September 2015
This book was a great help with my severe social anxiety at the time. It helped me understand why I was acting and thinking a certain way and the triggers, cycles and negative patterns I had developed over time. It's a great book and if you really want to get out of SA it will help a lot however you have to put work in also on your part, it's a guide not a magic pill. I'd go as far as saying it was a SA bible for myself because I was in desperate need for something that could explain everything to me and this book did that. Read the book, study it and change your life..don't be labelled by SA :)
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