Glossophobia is a pathological fear of speaking in front of people. Accompanies the course of stuttering, mutism, dyslalia, sometimes occurs within the framework of social phobia. With glossophobia, there is a constant fear of speech seizures, fear of being ridiculed by others, a painful fixation on a speech defect, which is why patients avoid communication situations. The fear of speech is revealed during observation, conversation, filling out speech questionnaires. The treatment of glossophobia is carried out by cognitive behavioral therapy, speech training, the development of relaxation methods, speech therapy correction.
Glossophobia refers to phobic disorders. It can be expressed in several ways:
- sound phobia – fear of pronouncing certain “difficult” sounds;
- verbophobia – fear of pronouncing some difficult words;
- lalophobia is the fear of the appearance of stuttering in speech associated with stuttering;
- peyraphobia is the fear of performing on stage, in front of a large audience.
In its development, glossophobia goes through three stages:
- At the first stage, fear arises directly in the process of oral speech, it is most pronounced in particularly exciting situations.
- At the second stage, glossophobia occurs already at the stage of speech planning, before starting a conversation.
- At the third stage, speech fear appears when thinking about the need for a conversation, a speech, or when remembering a negative speech experience.
Causes of glossophobia
To a greater extent, glossophobia is expressed with neurotic stuttering, to a lesser extent with neurosis–like. In the presence of relatives and well-known people, the fear of speech may be absent, but surrounded by strangers, in an unfamiliar environment, the situation gets out of control. Glossophobia can increase when talking on the phone, communicating with a person of the opposite sex, peers or adults.
Speech neurosis is expressed in an obsessive fear of the development of convulsive stutters when pronouncing a sound, word, phrase, sentence. Anxiety and anxiety are growing due to the fear of being publicly ridiculed. Anxious expectation is a factor that further constrains the phonation, articulation, and respiratory muscles. Therefore, with the beginning of speech, convulsive stammering increases. In this state, the stutterer does not say what he planned, but what is easier for him to pronounce. Sometimes a person becomes completely silent, stops answering questions, closes himself in.
As a result of glossophobia, the patient eventually begins to avoid oral speech contacts, tries to communicate more in writing. Constant difficulties in speech cause the development of neurotic reactions. Sometimes the consequence of the fear of speech is resentment, bitterness, excessive aggressiveness.
The severity of glossophobia can be so strong that a person prefers not to talk at all in certain situations. Elective (selective) mutism is developing.
The patient ceases to communicate with people who cause him negative emotions, anxiety, fear: does not speak to them, does not answer questions. At the same time, verbal contact with other people is preserved, the understanding of speech is not violated, written speech is normal. Sometimes glossophobia is manifested by silence in strictly defined places (kindergarten, school, section), where the patient feels uncomfortable.
Distorted, profane pronunciation of sounds often causes glossophobia in adolescents and adults. Awareness of one’s defect (lisp, burr), pronounced national accent or local dialect (okanya, gakanya) in a correctly speaking environment can cause unwillingness to enter into speech contact, refusal to communicate, monosyllabic answers.
Such manifestations may be regarded by others as arrogance, demonstrative behavior, but in fact this hides embarrassment, fear of being “not like everyone else”, being the object of ridicule and mimicry. When talking, people with sound reproduction defects try to avoid difficult sounds or pronounce them quietly, at an accelerated pace, wanting to “slip through” faster, to make their problem inconspicuous to others.
This form of glossophobia is not associated with speech disorders and mental disorders. The fear of speaking in public may hide childhood fears, criticism of parents and teachers, negative experience of previous public speeches that ended in failure.
Manifestations of glossophobia in this case are dryness of the throat when trying to start speech, difficulty breathing. A person cannot utter a single word (“silent, as if he swallowed his tongue”, “speechless”), as he expects another communicative failure.
If you still manage to start a speech, then it is replete with stutters, reservations, parasitic words, unreasonable pauses. Phrases are pronounced fragmentally, the logic and sequence of the presentation of thoughts is violated, the voice breaks down, the pace speeds up or slows down. Articulation and diction become indistinct. A conversation or speech ends in disappointment, both for the speaker himself and for his listeners.
Signs of speech anxiety also include tremor of the hands, trembling in the legs, palpitations, nausea, sweating. There are headaches, a feeling of tension and pain in the neck. The general psychological state is characterized by depression, depression, low self-esteem, disbelief in oneself. Outwardly, people suffering from glossophobia are closed, silent, non-contact. At the same time, internally they are very eager to communicate, but because of their fears, they are afraid to overcome this barrier.
The cause of glossophobia can be an unpleasant, fetid smell from the mouth, which is felt by the speaker himself. Stale breath makes communication with people in close proximity problematic, makes it necessary to avoid various manifestations of feelings (kisses, friendly hugs), intimate contacts.
In a company, a person suffering from halitosis is afraid to speak, prefers to remain silent, expressing his opinion with facial expressions and gestures. There is a constant need to use sprays and mouthwashers, but they only eliminate the unpleasant odor for a short time, without solving the problem of halitosis and glossophobia.
With glossophobia, there is a danger of addictive behavior. “For courage” and “emancipation” before the beginning of oral speech, a person can drink alcohol or take a drug. In other cases, before a public performance, there is a need for certain obsessive rituals, which eventually develops into an obsessive-compulsive syndrome. The consequence of glossophobia may be refusal to visit public places, leaving the profession or a prestigious job, voluntary self-isolation.
Diagnostic tactics are aimed at identifying the cause of glossophobic syndrome, determining the severity of the violation and contributing conditions. First of all, psychotherapists and speech therapists are involved in the diagnosis, if necessary, clinical specialists. In practice, the following methods are used:
- Observation and conversation. When observed from the outside, the diagnostician records the presence of speech defects, speech difficulties in certain conditions, accompanying glossophobia manifestations (vegetative symptoms, psychological features). During the conversation, the examinee finds out under what circumstances and with whom it is most difficult to build speech contact.
- Speech questionnaires. Test methods (authors L. Missulovin, R. Erickson) are an additional diagnostic tool. Special tests help to identify the presence of glossophobia in the patient, to determine the severity of feelings about his speech, the degree of fixation on the speech problem.
- Diagnosis of oral speech. The speech therapist conducts a survey of the state of the phonetic, phonetic-phonemic side of speech, prosodic components, tempo-rhythmic characteristics. Based on this, it is concluded that there is a primary speech defect (stuttering, dyslalia).
Some patients with logophobia may additionally require neurological examination (EEG, MRI of the brain), dental diagnostics (oral examination, dental radiography), examination of the gastrointestinal tract (gastroscopy, ultrasound of the abdominal cavity), upper respiratory tract (endoscopy of ENT organs).
Glossophobia cannot be eliminated without affecting its cause. Since the fear of speech belongs to the category of phobic disorders, the basis of treatment is medical measures. If necessary, a course of drug therapy is carried out with the help of antidepressants, tranquilizers, neuroleptics. General health procedures are prescribed that reduce the excitability of the nervous system:
- physiotherapy (electroson, electrophoresis);
- shared baths (coniferous, carbon dioxide, oxygen);
- therapeutic gymnastics;
- various types of massage (cervical-collar area, neuro-sedative).
Psychotherapeutic assistance is aimed at reducing anxiety, overcoming speech difficulties, mastering relaxation techniques. Psychocorrection is carried out for a long time, sometimes it takes more than one year to overcome your fears and learn to control yourself. The following methods are successfully used for glossophobia:
- psychotherapy (rational, cognitive-behavioral, gaming);
- autogenic training;
- neuro-linguistic programming;
- Biofeedback therapy.
Speech therapy correction
Speech therapy is required for patients with tongue-tied, stuttering. The purpose of classes with dyslalia is to set the correct sound reproduction with subsequent automation of acquired skills. Articulation exercises are performed to prepare the organs of speech, speech therapy massage is performed. The work is considered finished after all difficult sounds are pronounced unmistakably, introduced into speech and freely used in all communication situations.
The task of remedial classes for stuttering is to develop and consolidate a new speech skill without hesitation. In the speech therapist’s office, the technique of smooth speech is practiced, logomassage, respiratory and vocal gymnastics, speech therapy rhythmics are performed. Audio therapy by the Tomatis method has a good effect.
Speech trainings are organized in order to develop communicative functions and overcome glossophobia. The speech and emotional load is gradually becoming more complicated. Practicing the skills of “speech without fear” is carried out in various situations and circumstances: at school, in a store, on the street, with acquaintances with strangers.
It is necessary to note the positive dynamics in the treatment, praise the patient, instill confidence in his strength and speech capabilities. Even after completing a full course of therapy, a patient suffering from glossophobia needs to continue self-training and speech training independently, and consult with specialists if necessary.