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Arlin Cuncic

Impulsive Social Phobics Prone to Violence and Risky Behaviors

By March 21, 2010

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A study recently published in "Current Directions in Psychological Science" contradicts what many might expect when it comes to the actions of those with social anxiety disorder (SAD).

Psychologists Todd Kashdan and Patrick McKnight identified a subset of those with SAD who are prone to agressive and risky behaviors such as violence, substance abuse and unprotected sex. These behaviors are a far cry from the subdued and submissive character usually associated with SAD.

Kashdan and McKnight point out that this group may be easily misunderstood, and that this can have repercussions in terms of treatment. A bully who acts out due to anger issues requires different care than one whose behavior is a result of social anxiety. They further explain that this subgroup can be trained to inhibit impulsive urges and better regulate emotions.

Reading about this study brought one person quickly to my mind. Seung-Hui Cho; also known as the Virginia Tech Shooter. Cho suffered with selective mutism and gradually isolated himself into a "cult of one".

What do you think? Could violent and risky behaviors result from social anxiety alone, or is there something else at play?

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Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images

March 22, 2010 at 9:18 am
(1) Farouk says:

interesting findings
thanks for the post

March 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm
(2) Andreas says:

He will not be the last …

August 8, 2012 at 9:26 am
(3) Tami says:

I know from personal experience what it is to be extremely shy. I was made fun of, bullied and rejected throughout my school years because of it. Rejection is a powerful thing, excruciatingly painful. I turned that pain inward. The only person I ever hurt was myself by drinking alcohol, doing drugs, and attempting suicide. Unfortunately Seung-Hui Cho turned it outward.

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