15 million Americans suffer with social anxiety. This episode of True Life discusses the lives of two people with social anxiety: Nonie and Scott. Nonie is deathly afraid of even going into public. She dreads talking to people, she can’t attend classes, and she doesn’t have a job. A simple conversation with a stranger makes her sick to her stomach. Scott experiences his social anxiety when faced with women. He feels extreme nervousness and fear when he is around girls. He has never had a girlfriend and he is still a virgin at 26 years old. This began when he was bullied for multiple years when he was younger.
Nonie was more of a chaos narrative while Scott displayed a quest narrative. Nonie wanted to treat her illness as quickly as possible. She looked for answers that were immediate and possibly not the most effective or long-lasting. She would rather take a variety of pills rather than talk to a therapist in order to fix the root of her problem. She believed that simply taking pills would be more useful than seeking medical help. This narrative showed how desperate Nonie was to feel any type of relief, even if it was temporary. Scott was more realistic and actually tried to overcome his illness for good. He is sick of living with social anxiety and works with doctors and therapists to try and better himself. His experience with therapists and talking about his problems helped him work through his problems. Scott’s story was more of a journey where he took baby steps in order to work towards his goal of overcoming his social anxiety.
In today’s society, social anxiety is associated with all sort’s of negative things. Our society revolves around communication and social interactions. In order to succeed in school or a job, you must be able to talk to your professors, peers, bosses, and customers. If you can’t do this, it will be hard to achieve life goal’s and ambitions. Although Nonie and Scott are suffering from an illness, they don’t receive much slack from society. They are still expected to talk to people and do daily activities that normal people do.
Illness narratives are useful to patients, medical professionals, and family or friends. Sharing our stories with others and being open about our problems helps us feel better and cope with our illness and feel not so isolated. Listening can also help us feel like we are not the only ones suffering from a certain illness. It helps to know that there are others out there that are going through the same struggles.
Karim, Taz. “Lecture 4.2 Illness Narratives.” ANP 204 Course Website. East Lansing, MI, July 25, 2014. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/week-4-lecture-2/