The connection between social phobia and selective mutism

The connection between social phobia and selective mutism


Two social disorders, social phobia and selective mutism, are both characterized by a marked impairment in social interaction. The main difference between them is that selective mutism is characterized by a consistent inability to speak in specific social situations (such as school), while individuals with social phobia experience anxiety in a wide variety of social situations. However, research has shown that the two disorders may have common causes.

1. Common Causes

The most common known cause of selective mutism is extreme social anxiety. This can happen for a variety of reasons: the child’s parents feel he/she is too quiet and want him/her to be more socially active, or the child is shy or has been bullied. They may also be trying to avoid trauma from a past experience, such as physical abuse from their parents, bullying from other children, or sexual abuse from an adult. While the origins of this disorder are complex, it is clear that fear plays a huge role in its development. Children with selective mutism tend to have strong emotional bonds with their family members and often have difficulty separating from them, which makes it difficult for them to interact with others outside the home environment.

2. How are they similar?

Both disorders are characterized by feelings of inadequacy and fear of negative



The connection between social phobia and selective mutism

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