Need help breaking free from addiction?
1-888-993-3112
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Who Answers?

Unable To Keep Eye Contact

Question:

My problem is that I am unable to directly look into people’s eyes when I am trying to converse with them. Embarrassingly, I find my eyes tend to indirectly look at people’s sexual parts, for example, breasts, thighs, penis and so on. This condition occurs with whoever I am having a conversation with, i.e., men, women, young, old, work colleagues friends and relatives. I have no real control over this and I have suffered from this condition for the past 8-9 years. It has generally got worse over time. I am 41 and in a stable and happy marriage and I do not believe that I have a sexual problem. I have, however, suffered from anxiety/stress/worry since I was about 28 or so. I am gradually bringing my anxiety under control but I would very much like to treat this problem as it would help treat my anxiety and enable me to socialize with people without fear. I would like to know what the problem is and how it can be treated. Thank you.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Dombeck intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Dombeck to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Dombeck, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Dombeck and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), in the chapter on Anxiety Disorders, there is a subcategory for “Social Phobia”. Social phobia essentially involves painful symptoms of anxiety that occur in relation to particular social events. Common forms of social phobia have to do with anxiety around dating, or anxiety around public speaking, but there are many people who qualify for the diagnosis with a more general report of anxiety in diverse social interactions. I can’t know that this is your specific problem, but I can say that it’s something you might want to ask a psychologist or psychiatrist to consider when evaluating you for this difficulty. Your choice of visiting a psychologist or psychiatrist is significant in regard to the treatment for this problem. Social Phobia is very treatable in general, but a psychiatrist will most likely treat with anti-anxiety medications and a psychologist with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety. In choosing between the two, I’d say the average person is better off with CBT as it has no side-effects, uses no drugs you could get addicted to, and tends to have a longer lasting effect when the therapy ends. Good luck.

More "Ask Dr. Dombeck" View Columnists

Close

Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 Who Answers? 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.

Close

Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand