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Diagonally Parked in a Parallel Universe: Working Through Social Anxiety [Paperback]

Signe A. Dayhoff
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2000
"Dear Social Anxiety Sufferers (Your Friends and Family),

Everyone has experienced fleeting anxiety in social situations. But perhaps your self-consciousness intensely insinuates itself into one or more important aspects of your everyday life. If so, you likely suffer from the agonizing pangs of social fear. Perhaps you dread meeting people, giving a speech, using a public restroom, eating in public, talking to your boss, or having your social skills or work observed or your competence assessed. Or perhaps you feel threatened in new social situations where you don't know the rules, avoid such situations altogether, or just want to escape. We all experience social anxiety a little differently yet we're all riding the same skittish horse.

When our social fears are intense and persistent, we have social anxiety disorder/social phobia (SA/SP - "sasp" for short). This means every day we're forced to confront the pain of being in the spotlight, evaluated, or being embarrassed by the very social situations we long to embrace. Socially we find ourselves on the periphery of life's dance, trying to follow the choreographed patterns and rhythm, but usually seeming to be one beat out of synch, zigging when we should zag. Often feeling like the butt of a cosmic joke, we see ourselves as the ball in a pinball machine, bouncing from bumper to bumper, missing targets, and always on the verge of "tilt." This is being diagonally-parked in a parallel universe.

Clinically too, having SA/SP puts us in another dimension. Even though SA/SP is the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common psychiatric disorder after depression and alcoholism, it's the least-diagnosed, least-widely understood, and most under-treated. Few mental health professionals are well-versed in the condition or its treatment even as the number of sufferers continues to increase.

Making our situation worse, most of us with SA/SP don't know we have a treatable disorder, that we're not "just shy," and that we can and need to get help. But even when we understand this, we're often reluctant to seek professional help because we're ashamed of the fear and worried that our complaints won't be taken seriously. Then, when we finally do muster the courage to do it, we're often hobbled by the very anxiety for which we seek help: Talking with and being evaluated by others. Together, these factors help keep this major health problem nearly invisible.

This comprehensive book was written to show you how you can:

*Significantly and effectively alleviate your SA/SP pain;
*Significantly improve your daily functioning; and
* Effectively work toward your potential.

You benefit from the uniqueness of my perspective. I'm both a social psychologist working in the areas of social and personal effectiveness, interpersonal and presentation skills, and anxiety management and someone who has struggled for 22 years to successfully overcome SA/SP. (I used to worry endlessly about what others might think about me and my not meeting their expectations.) As a result, I understand how it feels to be living- and working through this often-incapacitating disorder and where we SA/SPers need to specifically concentrate our efforts to improve our lives.

You benefit from my knowledge of SA/SPers' concerns, issues, and desires - the result of my two years of talking with and listening to SA/SPers online via lists, news groups, and chats. You benefit from my research, teaching, consulting, training, and coaching experience, as well as my association with professionals in the SA/SP trenches.

To make your SA/SP more understandable and amenable to change, this book provides you with not only the theories and salient research on its origin, triggers, and maintaining mechanisms, but also a broad range of standard and alternative clinical approaches, life strategies, motivational exercises, and empathy. And because I know from extensive experience that your having exercises just thrown at you isn't likely to help you empower yourself and succeed, this book takes you back to square-one. It gives you the psychological preparation you need to jump-start, enable, and maintain your recovery process.

Because we SA/SPers tend to have difficulties with clinicians, this book takes the mystery and risk out of locating and talking to them and guides you through the process: From initiating your search to surviving your first appointment. It tells you what to expect and how to prepare for it. Because we SA/SPers struggle with presenting ourselves socially (whether communicating, socializing, dating, or finding a job), this book addresses each significant life activity, breaks it down into sequential, digestible chunks so you can absorb, assimilate, and achieve it. And, because the Internet has great importance and value for SA/SPers as one of the few means of establishing relationships and comfortable communication we have, the book pinpoints the services and resources available for those with SA/SP.

Since how you think, feel, and behave determines how you interact with your environment (and conversely), this book focuses on your perceptions, emotions, beliefs, and self-presentation. Using real-life stories, typical problems, and their solutions, the user-friendly format takes you logically, incrementally, step-by-baby-step through the multiple-level processes of your recovery. Through concise explanations, thought questions, self-quizzes, and exercises, you systematically develop and apply your cognitive and behavioral strategies to achieve your recovery goals.

In this process you'll assess your social anxiety, determine where you're headed, how to get there, and how you'll know when you've arrived. You'll act as a scientist doing experiments. You'll learn, practice, and apply new skills that will constructively change the way you think about and cope with not only your SA/SP but also the world outside yourself. You'll see yourself make positive changes.

Using this book's clinically-proven methods, you can reduce your:

* anxiety and fear
* depression
* negative thinking
* anger
* loneliness
* procrastination
* shame and embarrassment

and increase your:

* motivation to make change
* confidence and self-esteem
* ability to handle stress
* initiating and maintaining conversations
* problem solving
* decision making
* expressing yourself appropriately
* patience
* listening to others
* social effectiveness
* dealing with criticism
* dating
* networking
* creating your own job and career opportunities
* understanding of social anxiety, yourself, and others.

However, just reading this book isn't likely to ameliorate your SA/SP any more than just watching others exercise will cause you to lose weight and tone your body (although awareness may provide important identification, hints, and hope).

The book's recovery program is action-oriented, requiring your active, committed, persistent participation in order for you to alter all those factors contributing to your SA/SP: Your automatic fear arousal, negative thoughts, mistaken beliefs and assumptions, unrealistic expectations, and counter-productive behaviors.

Note: As much as we all may wish it to be true, there is no finger-snapping, lamp-rubbing, "Shazaam!" magical solution to SA/SP. It took many factors interacting over many years to bring you to your present state. So recovery will not be instantaneous. But if you take the time to make the necessary structured effort toward recovery (whether that includes therapy, medication, or both), you will quickly begin to experience small but significant changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behavior - glimpsing what it'll be like "without SA/SP."

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Product Details

Product Description

From Library Journal

Social anxiety disorder or social phobia (SA/SP), the intense, and incapacitating fear of social interaction, is the third most common psychiatric disorder (after depression and alcoholism). Dayhoff, a social psychologist, author (How To Win in a Tough Job Market), and lecturer who has overcome SA/SP herself, has written a comprehensive self-help guide for sufferers. Dayhoff reviews current research and theories about the origin of SA/SP, but her focus here is on practical ways to recover. She presents step-by-step plans for learning social skills for conversation, dating, job hunting, and networking; gives concise and clear information on such issues as how to access professional help, what to expect during the first session, and what happens in group therapy; outlines the benefits and pitfalls of medication; discusses complimentary therapies; and offers suggestions for finding financial assistance and social support. She also provides a list of resources. SA/SP sufferers and their friends and relatives will find this book helpful. Recommended for popular psychology collections in public and consumer health libraries.
-Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Diagonally-Parked in a Parallel Universe will be a significant addition to my professional library. Dr. Dayhoff includes research and practical information about every aspect of social anxiety. My colleagues and I are especially grateful for the chapters on blushing, sweating, and physiological symptoms. We've been looking for this kind of complete information for a long time. As a communication coach who frequently works with clients who have fears and anxiety, I appreciate Dr. Dayhoff's work enormously. Congratulations!" -- Laurie Schloff, Director, Executive Training, The Speech Improvement Company, Boston, MA

"Dr. Dayhoff has done a remarkable job researching the current literature on social anxiety and its disorder. The text is well-written and comprehensive and I enjoyed the use of humor. I hope this book will help people suffering from this debilitating disorder to come out of the closet." -- Stefan G. Hofmann, Ph.D., Director, Social Phobia Program, Boston University

"Finally here's a book that deals with social anxiety from the insider's perspective on this long-neglected anxiety problem. Because Dr. Dayhoff has lived through social anxiety herself, she is able to comprehensively cover both the personal concerns of sufferers and current research and treatment options. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand and work toward overcoming social anxiety." -- Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Director, Anxiety Clinic of Arizona

* "Dr. Dayhoff's book blows the lid off of SA/SP. Other books on the topic have been research and treatment-oriented. This compelling and insightful volume takes us into the 'belly of the beast.' Through her own first-person accounts and her interviews with hundred of fellow SA/SP sufferers, she gives us a long-overdue understanding of the often debilitating, misunderstood (this isn't about just being shy) nature of SA/SP. ...Her book delivers the empathetic guidance and key strategies vital to recovery. It also gives family and friends the tools necessary to assist in this recovery process." -- - Carleton W. Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW, nationally-known family therapist, Medfield, MA

* "I love the title! I very much like Dr. Dayhoff's tone in 'speaking' to her readers and what she has done!" -- - Richard G. Heimberg, Ph.D., editor of Social Phobia: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment, Director, Social Phobia Program, Temple University

* "I'm delighted that Dr. Dayhoff is taking what we know about social anxiety/social phobia to the public." -- - Mark R. Leary, Ph.D., author of Social Anxiety, Psychology Dept., Wake-Forest University

* "Signe Dayhoff combines the best of both worlds - the knowledge and expertise of the professional and the insight and understanding of the consumer and communicates these strengths to her reader. As an ex social phobia, Dr. Dayhoff's empathy and her understanding of the struggles of the person with social phobia shine through in every chapter. The reader...will benefit from the warmth...combined with the most up-to-date expert knowledge. This is a winning recipe." -- - Ronald M. Rapee, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Macquairie University, Australia, author of Overcoming Shyness and Social Phobia: A Step by Step Guide

* "This book is a must-read to gain a better perspective on understanding both yourself and your relationships with others. It is not just for those with social anxiety disorder. I like how Dr. Dayhoff holds your hand at each step of the process, explains everything in detail, describes, and simplifies. The title really captures the problem we've all experienced to some degree."

- Dan Perlman, Ph.D., Professor of Family Studies, University of British Columbia

* "Enlightening, helpful. A wonderful blend of information about social anxieties and practical suggestions for overcoming them. Signe Dayhoff's been there, conquered these anxieties herself, studied them, and compassionately worked to help others overcome them. She now engagingly puts her wisdom and advice together to help others help themselves." -- - Rhonda L. Fallk, Ph.D., Counseling Psychologist, Clarks Summit, PA

* "This is a highly readable book and gives good concrete examples and exercises. I particularly like the part about how to find a suitable therapist or treatment setting. That can be a real challenge for shy people. I am happy to endorse this book." -- - Lynne Henderson, Ph.D., Director, The Shyness Clinic, Menlo Park, CA

* "[Dr. Dayhoff] has done an excellent job of covering...social anxiety, and [her] book will be valuable to both therapists and self-help readers. I definitely recommend it." -- - Albert Ellis, Ph.D., President, Albert Ellis Institute for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars On Target by someone who's been there May 6 2004
This book is SO on the money! The author is a psychologist who recovered from SP after suffering with it for 22 years so she knows what she is talking about. Even Dr. Richard Heimberg a well-known SP clinician and researcher and author gives it high marks.
The book is about SP from EVERY angle. This makes the condition and how it affects us SPs really understandable. I totally identified with the indepth examples and stories. The author shows what SP looks like from the inside and outside and details SPs struggle with every day they live under the SP cloud.
She spends 11 chapters out of 15 (it's a big book - 400 pages) guiding you through working on the three components of SP - physical symptoms, thinking problems, and avoidant behavior. Only then does she talk about how to be more socially effective for those who feel they are not and want to be. I think this is so helpful because I had rusty social skills and had no self-confidence to use them but would never have attempted them until I had my fear under better control.
After you learn the basics first, you are ready to work on advanced skills, like becoming more confident and effective in other areas of your life. This helped me begin to meet people and look for a better job. She offers readers a social effectiveness menu you can choose from based upon what you think you need. So you get to customize your work with different social skills to what you need. This is because the author believes "one size does not fit all".
I worked with this book on my own which helped alot and then with my therapist who recommends it to her SP patients. I refer to it often and still enjoy the humor the author placed here and there.
If you have ANY anxiety in ANY social situations, you can only HELP yourself by getting this book.
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By Winston
I was amazed to learn that EVERYTHING you do changes your brain chemistry. When you feel happy or do something nice for someone, you increase serotonin and dopamine which makes you feel less anxious and depressed. When you feel sad, anxious or like a failure, the amount of serotonin and dopamine drops and you feel bad. When you think positive or negative thoughts, you change your chemistry too. How you think, feel and behave is important to how anxious you feel.
This really got me thinking. After I read this book, I checked out some of the references in the back of the book to find out more about this. There have been lots of studies to show that changing your thoughts in a programmatic way to more positive can make a big difference in the amounts of anxiety reducing brain chemicals that are present. So if changing how you respond to life reduces social anxiety, popping pills is NOT the only answer.
I want to permanently change the thoughts that make me anxious but I know now that some people may prefer taking pills for years. The book says specifically that "one size does not fit all". That is why the author gives you so many different things to try and different ways to look at things because each of us is different. I liked being able to customize the treatment suggestions to me.
This author really knows about social anxiety and gives you all the things you need to start getting better. It is a great book for use with or without a therapist and with or without drugs. Its primary concern is what works best for you as an individual to reduce your social anxiety.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Has helped me a lot Aug. 30 2003
By A Customer
I have been reading a lot of self-help literature lately and have passed thru most of the classics, from Dale Carnegie to Maxwell Maltz and others. I tried stuff like "Feeling Good", "Learned Optimist" and many others. This little book with the tacky cover stands out when it comes to the social anxiety aspects. I've always felt too shy and sometimes too pessimistic. That sparked my urge to search for motivational titles and anything that could help. Some are interesting, others plain useless. This book however felt different. For a start, it is not full of padding. I actually managed to get some content out of every page. Plus, it's not full of self-promotion, does not mention seminars, previous books, etc. It feels as if the author is primarily interested in passing the content, something that isn't always felt.
But the biggest advantage is perhaps the "Wow, this is me" feeling I got while reading it. Anyone who has been feeling "shy" for most of their life should consider taking a look at this. The book covers a lot of aspects in life, including work ,dating, job interviews, etc, but in general, the biggest advantage to me was getting to understand myself better.
It will explain you very well why you behave the way you do. The flaws? Well, it covers many possible ways to approach your thoughts and improve, but unfortunately, it is more effective at explaining you what's going on than at helping you solve it. There are no clear methods, no programs, no suggestions. The author tells you about several possible ways to deal with issues and lets you try things for yourself. Once you understand how you think, you can define your own tactic.
I find this a drawback in a way, but not totally.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I bought a copy of this book on the basis of the five-star rating, the amusing title, the number of good reviews written about it, and on reading the excerpts. Read more
Published on May 7 2004 by AJOM
2.0 out of 5 stars Unhelpful
I think this book misses the mark by equating social phobia(SP)with social skills and advising sufferers of SP of techniques to use in social situations. Read more
Published on May 6 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book--really helped out
This book really puts the emphasis on how socializing can be different for people (and very tough for others). It is not just a book for Social Anxiety. Read more
Published on April 16 2004 by Synathaesia
2.0 out of 5 stars Same Info - Different Package
All the books in the world can't change a chemical imbalance in your brain. I have a bookshelf full of this
type of material and tried for 10 years to "cure"... Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid and on target
Author knows the topic inside out having lived it and worked with it and done research on it. She explains everything fully in easy to understand, conversational language with... Read more
Published on April 27 2003 by "lesserprophets"
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfocussed mere listing of research into social phobia
This is a book of lists. Lots of aspects of life for people with social phobia are described, but ultimately the person with social phobia is left without a clear message of what... Read more
Published on March 8 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfocussed mere listing of research into social phobia
This is a book of lists. Lots of aspects of life for people with social phobia are described, but ultimately the person with social phobia is left without a clear message of what... Read more
Published on March 8 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding and practical
Book is crammed (408 pages) with important information. Minimum of clinical discussion (neurotransmitters and medications). Most is easy to read. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Great useful info, effective exercises
Recently I discovered I have social phobia. I thought I was crazy because I did not want to answer the door or use the phone or go out with the guys. Read more
Published on Dec 25 2002 by Dean Eriks
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-Opening
There are many books on social phobia and more coming out all the time. But this book does them one better. Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2002 by Sherelee Fitzsimmons
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