Psychological Self-Help

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(2001), Zimbardo (1987), Aron (1996 & 2000), Markway & Markway
(2001), Burns (1985), and Carducci (1999). Also see the Conquering
Shyness bibliography. It is better to DO SOMETHING, than to read
lots of books. 
Some studies have suggested that shyness is increasing in
America. A few psychologists, including Zimbardo, have speculated
that our increasing affluence and the increasing popularity of the
Internet are responsible for the growth in shyness. What is the basis
for these beliefs? Well, some think more wealth enables us to become
self-sufficient and live alone with well furnished entertainment centers
and expensive computers, i.e. live in isolation from others. But the
same wealth enables us to have the time for friends and the means of
going places and doing things with friends. Some with money choose
to be alone, others want to be with their favorite people. 
Zimbardo (an article, Shyness Breaks the Human Connection, on on 2/19/2000) showed his biases
when he wrote: "Technology further isolates within an illusion of
interpersonal communication. We make acquaintances and lose friends
by spending so many hours on email and in chat rooms, substituting
emotional face-to-face contacts with information-based virtual
contacts." A couple of the early studies supported this opinion that
going online increases social distance or isolation and replaces deep,
meaningful friendships with (what is assumed to be) shallow, fleeting,
cyberspace interactions. However, about 55% of Internet users report
that being online increases interpersonal connections and actually
improves interactions with friends and family (a survey done by Pew
Internet and reported by Aimee Balsey of the Badger Herald, U.
Wisconsin, 6/30/2000). Certainly being online makes it easier and
cheaper to stay in touch with old friends who are now far away. Good
relationships can develop online; note the support groups and the
marriages that start online. 
It is obvious that humans have very different social needs--and
some of us meet those needs within a close family or group of friends,
perhaps face-to-face, perhaps by using new technology, perhaps by
phone, perhaps for a few by writing each other. There are others of us
who are content, even happy being alone (even though that is hard for
the gregarious to realize, there is nothing wrong with that). What
concerns me is the painfully shy who silently long for close
relationships. For some of these people, the online chats, forums, lists,
threaded discussions, etc. are an ideal way to start interacting more
comfortably and, hopefully, learn to converse more easily with people
face-to-face too. Indeed, King & Poulos (1998) have recommended
that the seriously shy (Social Phobia and Avoidant Personality
Disorder) consider joining one of the thousands of virtual communities
as well as perhaps seeking online therapy by a professional. 
There are a few Web sites that specialize in shyness: Yahoo! Shyness
Center for Shyness (, |Cheek: How
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