GLOSOPHOBIA: What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

  • Jul 26, 2021
Glossophobia: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatments

You are right in front of your colleagues, ready to hear your proposals in the form of a presentation. They seem expectant, but your heartbeat deafens your thoughts and you can't focus to begin with. You wipe off the constant sweat that comes off your forehead as you try to remember what you were going to say, but multiple catastrophic thoughts ravage your mind: "will they realize that I know nothing? nervousness? or am I a fraud, I don't deserve to be here. " In the end, you are silent, unable to articulate a single word.

Was it familiar to you? We have all felt anxiety when it comes to speaking in public, but there is a group of people who have a really bad time, people who suffer from glossophobia. In this article from Psychology-Online: Glossophobia: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatments what this extreme and irrational fear of public speaking consists of will be explained.

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  1. Glossophobia: what is it
  2. Glossophobia: causes
  3. Glossophobia: symptoms
  4. Glossophobia: treatments

Glossophobia: what is it.

Glossophobia, in psychology, is a concept that is used to refer to a specific phobia, a pathological fear. Next we will see what glossophobia is and how it differs from fear and social phobia.

Glossophobia: etymology

The word glossophobia comes from the terms of Greek origin glosso (tongue) and phobos (afraid).

Whatwhat is glossophobia?

Glossophobia is a anxiety disorder specific experience in which a great irrational, uncontrollable and permanent fear when speaking in public. The nerves before speaking in front of a group of people is something normal that can happen to everyone, because there is some pressure on our part to do it well. However, for a person suffering from glossophobia, the anxiety is so high that prevents them from carrying out the activity and mentally blocks them, there may be cases where they get to faint. For that reason, people who suffer from glossophobia always tend to avoid this type of situation.

Glossophobia can be a serious impediment to the well-being of the person and their quality of life, especially in work and academic environments, which are the settings where these activities are most likely to take place.

Glossophobia versus fear

Glossophobia is distinguished from a normal fear since it has the following characteristics, which does not present an adaptive and functional fear:

  • It is excessive. The experience is lived as something much more frightening than it really is.
  • Irrational. The person is aware that the fear of her is disproportionate and incongruous and cannot give a logical explanation.
  • Uncontrollable. You cannot control your fear or anxiety symptoms.
  • Permanent. The level of anxiety is invariable every time the opportunity to speak in public presents itself.

Glossophobia and social phobia

Glossophobia could be confused with social anxiety disorder, or more commonly called social phobia, by the area in which they are defined, which would be the social environment. Although a person with social phobia could develop glossophobia, there is a clear distinction between the two. The difference lies in what is feared:

  • Social phobia is an anxiety disorder that describes an irrational and persistent fear of any social interactionWhether it's having a conversation, strolling down the street and being watched, or eating in public.
  • In glossophobia, your fear focuses exclusively on the specific situation of speaking in front of a group of people, without the need to present excessive fear in other social situations.

Glossophobia: causes.

As in most phobias, it is difficult to know for sure the cause that has generated glossophobia. People who suffer from it tend not to be able to remember or determine what caused that extreme fear in the first place. Even so, there are some factors that seem to be linked in the appearance of glossophobia.

Fear of Public Speaking: Causes

  • Genetic predisposition towards anxiety and stress.
  • One or multiple traumatic experiences related to public speaking.
  • Constantly avoiding public speaking until you turn a normal fear into a phobia.
  • Formation of negative beliefs at an early age about one's own abilities regarding speaking in front of people. Thoughts like: I'm not capable, I'm not good at it, I'm going to make a fool of myself, and so on.
Glossophobia: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatments - Glossophobia: causes

Glossophobia: symptoms.

Glossophobia, being an anxiety disorder, presents its own symptoms to this class of affectations. This means that a person with glossophobia experiences different symptoms related to anxiety when exposed to public speaking. Sometimes the fear is so great that even imagining the situation is enough for the person to show anxiety reactions.

When we talk about anxiety, each person can experience different symptoms and with varying intensity. Each person can experience it differently and does not necessarily have to present all the symptoms. There are, like the other phobia, three different categories in which anxiety can manifest itself. The most common symptoms of glossophobia are the following:

Glossophobia: symptoms physical

  • Increased respiration.
  • Palpitations and / or tachycardias.
  • Feeling of suffocation
  • Increased muscle tension.
  • Increased sweating
  • Fainting.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Stomach aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.
  • Tremors
  • Stuttering.

Glossophobia: scognitive intomas

They are a followed by recurring thoughts around irrational beliefs and ideas about what can happen when you are going to speak in public. Many times these same thoughts can increase with physical symptoms and vice versa.

  • Intrusive and uncontrollable speculation about possible scenarios.
  • Mental images of catastrophic ideas of all the bad things that can happen.
  • Fear of losing control and not knowing how to properly manage the situation.

Glossophobia: sbehavioral intomas

Faced with the aversive stimulus that is public speaking, people with glossophobia will show specific behaviors to flee from the situation in any way possible. Any behavior that has the purpose of shunning or dodging the possibility of having to speak in public they are called avoidance behaviors. Some of these behaviors are:

  • Being late to the activity on purpose.
  • Make it appear that you have become ill.
  • Make up an excuse for missing the activity.

Glossophobia: treatments.

How to overcome glossophobia? How to lose the fear of speaking in public? In order to treat glossophobia, it is essential to carry out psychotherapeutic sessions. The root of the therapy that the person faces the situation that generates anxiety so that he can overcome the fear of speaking in front of an audience.

It cognitive behavioral treatments that are usually performed are live exposure techniques, systematic desensitization and cognitive restructuring.

How to overcome glossophobia

Not being able to speak in public is a great impediment, many opportunities in life can be lost because of him. Is there anything I can do to try to improve my situation, beyond the therapies? The answer is yes. If you want to facilitate the process of losing the fear of speaking in front of other people, there are techniques and activities that can help you overcome the fear. However, it should be borne in mind that these techniques should not replace psychological treatment.

  • Practice relaxation techniques It allows you to reduce the physical symptoms that are typical of the anxiety itself, giving a greater degree of control of how you feel before you can speak in public. The relaxation techniques They can be learned self-taught or with the help of a psychologist and can be used at any time.
  • Training and practice. Another way to control anxiety is to join training programs or workshops to learn how to speak in public. They will give you confidence and are an excellent opportunity to work through stressful situations in a safer environment.

In the following article you will find Public speaking techniques that can help you.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Glossophobia: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatments, we recommend that you enter our category of Clinical psychology.


  • Finkelstein, D. (2017, June). Conquer Glossophobia: Help Students Overcome Their Fear of Public Speaking. In Innovations in Teaching & Learning Conference Proceedings (Vol. 9).
  • Rahman, F. (2018). Glossophobia in Training of Speech. ELS Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 1(1), 28-36.

Glossophobia: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatments

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