Håndteringer af en tilværelse med social angst

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Stine Saaby Bach
4. term, Sociology, Master (Master Programme)
WHO issued the 2001 report "Mental health: new understanding and new hope”, which showed that 24% of world population would be affected by a mental disorder during their lifetime, with anxiety disorders as the most widespread of them all. The subject of this master thesis is "social anxiety", which today is considered the most prevalent anxiety disorder, from which 7% of the Danish population is estimated to suffer from.
Due to the overwhelming spread of mental illness there have been talks about epidemic like circumstances, but there seems to be more at stake, than just people becoming sicker. Throughout the project, social anxiety will be linked with its social context where it de-velops into an overarching thesis; that social anxiety as a diagnosis is not simply the result of internal factors such as psychological and biological, but must be regarded as a product of various social trends. There are many scientific and social processes in play and there have been several sociological narratives of psychiatric disorders emerging in an escalating manner. In part, the arrival of changing diagnostic practices enables us to diagnose different than earlier, where it has been pointed out that there has been a growing pathologisation of more aspects of existence and it has been examined where we today draw the line for normality. Others have pointed out that pharmaceutical disease campaigns have a role to play. Another explanation is that cultural aspects have changed social inclusion requirements and that there exists a correlation between the fundamental aspects of the condition of culture and the rise of one of its most common forms of dis-tress, where social anxiety can be seen as the antithesis of the flexible society. Through this master thesis, these different perspectives are included as means to identify the com-plex phenomenon of the interweaving of the scientific constitution and a certain zeitgeist.
This will be done by an examination of the consequences of the way suffering is now constituted and handled, in today's peculiar way: "to do suffering". In this project focus will be on the group of individuals who suffer from social anxiety. Through a series of biographical interviews, conducted using an existence perspective, how the social consti-tution of suffering creates the foundation for a certain "being" with social anxiety was investigated, which leads to certain procedures when handling the disorder.
During the investigation there proved to be great divergence in the respondents' handling of the disorder, which seems particularly rooted in generational differences. In the applied Foucault perspective, it appeared that the young anxious people in their anxiety manage-ment is driven by an internal governmentality, where the desire to realize themselves, creates sustainable biographical goals that motivate them from inside to handle anxiety. To the contrary, older anxious persons seem to be predominantly motivated from the out-side because they fear to get deprived of economic resources in case they do not utilize the systems handling options. Here it seems that the younger population differs between "themselves" and the anxiety residing inside their self-identity to give them a belief that it is possible to escape the fear, while the elderly have an acceptance that anxiety is a part of themselves that they do not expect to be freed from, but just have to live with as painless-ly as possible. This might be the reason why older people choose medical preparations to relieve anxiety, while the younger population chooses therapeutic treatment to transform them self qua exercises in thought and behavior changing patterns.
These differences translate into the fact, that the older people’s unsuccessful attempt to meet the system requirements while withdrawing from the normal society, where possible, and find non-demanding oases outside this. The younger people remain instead in a normal society where they in their own pace, practices in functioning within this society, which in all cases proved successful. Therefore, governmentality seems undoubtedly to be the most useful solution for society, because it requires the anxious to become useful citizens, where the system's external processes more so pacifies the anxious in a patient-like state of mind outside the normal society. At the micro level it seems, that the younger people’s quality of life grows, while the older tends to experience standstill. Everyone still experience the suffering from anxiety, since the younger people have just made new goals for themselves, which are difficult to reach and keeps them in a constant feeling of inadequacy. There are therefore different standards for how social anxiety is experienced.
Key words: social anxiety, social phobia, shyness, pathologisation, governmentality.
Publication date21 Dec 2010
Number of pages101
ID: 42685748