Adolescent Shyness Case Study

Adolescent Shyness Case Study

9781585624836.jb05 Case 5.3 Adolescent Shyness

Barbara L. Milrod, M.D.

Nadine was a 15-year-old girl whose mother brought her for a psychiatric evaluation to help with

her long-standing shyness.

Although Nadine was initially reluctant to say much about herself, she said she felt constantly

tense. She added that the anxiety had been “really bad” for several years and was often

accompanied by episodes of dizziness and crying. She was generally unable to speak in any

situation outside of her home or school classes. She refused to leave her house alone for fear of

being forced to interact with someone. She was especially anxious around other teenagers, but

she had also become “too nervous” to speak to adult neighbors she had known for years. She said

it felt impossible to walk into a restaurant and order from “a stranger at the counter” for fear of

being humiliated. She also felt constantly on her guard, needing to avoid the possibility of getting

attacked, a strategy that really only worked when she was alone in her home.

Nadine tried to conceal her crippling anxiety from her parents, typically telling them that she

“just didn’t feel like” going out. Feeling trapped and incompetent, Nadine said she contemplated

suicide “all the time.”