This is a test for the description of different types of anxiety and panic disorder symptoms. It is a simple test and not exhaustive.
Anxiety is felt in the body. Heart palpitations, tightness in the chest, feeling like throwing up and that gut wrenching experience are all likely symptoms of anxiety. For most of us most of the time, these are normal part of our daily lives. We get by great with these feelings, because we know what the triggers of these feelings are. We are also aware that these bodily reactions are built into our bodies to protect us from potentially life-threatening situations. Some of us even like the adrenaline rush of anxiety so much that we go out of our way to “scare ourselves” by watching horror movies or doing adventure sports. Read more about anxiety symptoms.
One of the pillars of social anxiety disorder is the fear of being judged. This test is certainly not diagnostic. It is meant for education purpose. If you have debilitating issues regarding social anxiety, do seek a professional’s services.
The fear of being judged is a positive aspect of human nature. This instinct holds us in good form within social groups in which we need to belong. The balance between being fearful and being confident is necessary for daily functioning. Just as one can be impeded by exaggerated fear of being judged, there are also disorders in personality (the extreme example is antisocial personality disorder) whereby no sense of fear or conscience is present.
This is a questionnaire to help construct the definition of social anxiety. Being anxious in social situations is a “normal” human condition. As social beings, we feel the need to get along with others. Being in communities gives us a sense of belonging and safety. The flip-side of having such need to belong to group or groups, is having to behave in manners that is conducive to being an accepted member in the groups. Social anxiety can become a “disorder” if it pervades our minds, keeping us from normal functioning as a happy person. Having fears of being judged by other’s for example keeps us from being in contact from other people, and the result is self-imposed isolation and loneliness.
In extreme cases of social anxiety, the individual loses all interest in stepping out of the home. Sometimes severity of symptoms get worse with age. These factors vary individually.
Psychotherapy works for social anxiety through a 2 step process:
behavioral change : client is motivated to make baby steps, like making eye contact in conversation, leaving the house, envisioning a change. This measure helps the patient active in making change, but does not necessarily solve the underlying problem.
emotional awareness: client is supported in being aware of negative feelings (of e.g. fear / panic / loss etc.) that underlie the anxiety. This method provides for lasting alleviation of the distress.
Group therapy is recommended for clients who have progressed in individual therapy or who have very mild anxiety.
The goal of therapy in this situation is to enable the client to analyze the root of his/her distress, overcome setbacks, and learn new behaviors that would turn into second nature.
The test below is by no means diagnostic, but rather educational. If you or anyone you know find the self having debilitating issues regarding social anxiety, do seek a professional’s services.
This is not a test for diagnosing people as psychopaths. It is, rather, a test for you, if you are in a relationship that feels confusing, and unpleasant. If the person you are living or working with sends you conflicting vibes: ecstatic to be in this relationship, being put on a pedestal on one hand, and being thrown into the ditch on another.
Sometimes it helps victims of abuse to have a name for it. Sometimes it could just be that the other person is being him/herself, and you have your own unresolved psychological issues. Whatever your reason may be, if you are here to use this test, I hope it is insightful.
You may wonder what is the significance of knowing this: is my spouse / boss / colleague / friend / sibling someone who happens to be alexithymic? Someone who has literally no feelings?
We are not all the same. In fact we are often blind to the people we live with, to their personality and character traits, because we live within our own personality biases. Without psychotherapeutic work, we are often not aware of the fact that we see and feel the world differently from the people around us. That we also have a tendency to assume that the other person understands us and vice versa.
Alexithymia is not uncommon. It is assumed that about 10% of the population is alexithymic. With awareness through psychotherapy, one may get to realize that one is or had been living with persons who are unable to identify and describe emotions in the self. This condition is seen as dysfunctional because it leaves the person un-empathic, and the people around the sufferers often get hurt.
Alexithyma proves to be prominent in a number of clinical disorders (e.g., somatoform disorders, panic disorders, depression with dominance of vital and somatic symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], and eating disorders). Extent of Alexithymia is also significant to outcome in the treatment of these disorders.
Psychological questionnaires used to measure Alexithymia include: Observer Alexithymia Scale (Haviland et.al, 2001) and the the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (Vorst et.al, 2001).
Haviland, M. G., Warren, W. L., Riggs, M. L., & Gallacher, M. (2001). Psychometric properties of the Observer Alexithymia Scale in a clinical sample. Journal of Personality Assessment, 77(1), 176-186.
Helmes, E., McNeill, P. D., Holden, R. R., & Jackson, C. (2008). The construct of alexithymia: Associations with defense mechanisms. Journal of clinical psychology, 64(3), 318-331.
Vorst, H. C., & Bermond, B. (2001). Validity and reliability of the Bermond–Vorst alexithymia questionnaire. Personality and individual differences, 30(3), 413-434.
Quiz: How to Identify Alexithymia in a Person
Note: this is a basic quiz and not to be used as diagnosis of yourself or the other person. If you suspect that the condition affects your psycho-social functioning, please consult a mental health professional.
Hypomania is, as the term implies, a minor form of mania. The occurrence of hypomania is more common than realized. As in a case study described Kets de Vries’ Reflections on Character and Leadership, hypomanic episodes are very common among people in our lives known to be exceeding high achievers, leaders and colleagues. Read case study here.
We may even be one of the many who “suffer” hypomanic episodes too. I put “suffer” in inverted commas because the episodes of hypomania do not feel like suffering. It is exhilarating and productive. So why are we concerned with hypomania?
Episodes of hypomania almost inadvertently leads the person to long spells of depression. These mood swings creates instability in the lives of the individual and strains relationships. In crisis situations, hypomania develops into mania, and depression leads to addictive or even suicidal behavior.
Here is a short questionnaire for self-reflection / reflection of the other. This is, however, not a diagnostic test. If you feel that your mood swings and/or that of your family members are affecting your lives, contact a mental health professional.