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To begin, the widely accepted definition of social anxiety
featured in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-V),
is a “marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which embarrassment
may occur” (Clark and Beck, 2010, 333). The biological understanding of illness
has controlled much of the discourse and understanding of disorders throughout
history. Social anxiety was first coined as social phobia in the early 1980’s,
however it had continuously been undermined by ‘shyness’. Shyness has always
been the catalyst in the “‘contested boundaries’ between physical health,
mental illness and social deviance” (Scott, 2006, 133). Social anxiety disorder
had only been truly recognized within the biomedical model after featuring in
the DSM-III. However, researchers had identified a ‘neglected anxiety
disorder’, stressing that the manual was in need of improvement in order to
manage and treat social anxiety as a mental illness (Craighead et al., 2008,
200). Social anxiety disorder has had extensive research through a biomedical
standpoint, finding certain biological attributes that lead to, and are a result
of SAD. Individuals who suspect they are suffering from social phobia must meet
specific physical, as well as mental symptoms. Diagnosis is given if both
behavioural and somatic responses are present during social situations. For
somatic symptoms, individuals will experience dizziness, blushing, stammering,
and potentially a panic attack. Whilst behavioural symptoms include avoidance
of social situations, avoidance of eye contact and lack of social skills (Nutt
and Ballenger, 2008). Within the biological answer to phobic disorders, the
evolutionary theory explains how individuals are predisposed and innate to
acquire fears and phobias as a survival response.  The evolutionary theory
identifies how social phobias may be a response to hierarchical dominance. Individuals
fear those who are more powerful and dominant within society, therefore
individuals “display fear and submissive behaviours in the presence of dominant
members, thereby remaining affiliated with the group and the benefits
associated with this affiliation” (Nutt and Ballenger, 2008). The more
prominent biological explanation of mental disorders, specifically social
anxiety disorder, is through neurobiology. Individuals who have social anxiety
will display a chemical imbalance, or a dysfunction in particular chemical
responses, as well as genetic predispositions (IBID). This biological
explanation has given the go ahead for pharmaceutical treatment to exist to treat
the symptoms of social anxiety disorder.

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