To begin, the widely accepted definition of social anxietyfeatured in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-V),is a “marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which embarrassmentmay occur” (Clark and Beck, 2010, 333). The biological understanding of illnesshas controlled much of the discourse and understanding of disorders throughouthistory. Social anxiety was first coined as social phobia in the early 1980’s,however it had continuously been undermined by ‘shyness’. Shyness has alwaysbeen the catalyst in the “‘contested boundaries’ between physical health,mental illness and social deviance” (Scott, 2006, 133). Social anxiety disorderhad only been truly recognized within the biomedical model after featuring inthe DSM-III. However, researchers had identified a ‘neglected anxietydisorder’, stressing that the manual was in need of improvement in order tomanage and treat social anxiety as a mental illness (Craighead et al.
, 2008,200). Social anxiety disorder has had extensive research through a biomedicalstandpoint, finding certain biological attributes that lead to, and are a resultof SAD. Individuals who suspect they are suffering from social phobia must meetspecific physical, as well as mental symptoms. Diagnosis is given if bothbehavioural and somatic responses are present during social situations. Forsomatic symptoms, individuals will experience dizziness, blushing, stammering,and potentially a panic attack. Whilst behavioural symptoms include avoidanceof social situations, avoidance of eye contact and lack of social skills (Nuttand Ballenger, 2008).
Within the biological answer to phobic disorders, theevolutionary theory explains how individuals are predisposed and innate toacquire fears and phobias as a survival response. The evolutionary theoryidentifies how social phobias may be a response to hierarchical dominance. Individualsfear those who are more powerful and dominant within society, thereforeindividuals “display fear and submissive behaviours in the presence of dominantmembers, thereby remaining affiliated with the group and the benefitsassociated with this affiliation” (Nutt and Ballenger, 2008).
The moreprominent biological explanation of mental disorders, specifically socialanxiety disorder, is through neurobiology. Individuals who have social anxietywill display a chemical imbalance, or a dysfunction in particular chemicalresponses, as well as genetic predispositions (IBID). This biologicalexplanation has given the go ahead for pharmaceutical treatment to exist to treatthe symptoms of social anxiety disorder.