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Speaking in Private and Not Speaking in Public. Why?

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Speaking in Private and Not Speaking in Public. Why?

Postby Rachel G » Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:08 am

I had selective mutism at age 4 for 1.5 years and just seemed to grow out of it but not without the coercion of parents and teachers. I did not know the name of this condition until my mother reminded me last month. I always felt shame towards it and tried to bury it in the past but it did affect my future in a lot of way so I'm now seeking answers as an adult.

I've been reading about SM and am not fully understanding of it all yet so please bear with me.

My question is why do children speak to family and close friends with no problems but have trouble in social settings or when speaking to strangers? I also remember being extremely clingy with my mother as far back as I remember which is about 4 years old. She recalls trying to leave me with a teenage babysiiter and she'd have to sneak outon her hands and knees. She would also have to sing me to sleep in my bed at night. This I remember because one night my little bed collapsed with both of us in it.lol.

I read that it is some sort of genetic predisposition to anxiety and is it because speaking in public furthers social anxiety when the brain signifies it as some sort of threatening scenario? It that what it is?

It really did affect me in my formative years and the effects and shame of it as a result has always stayed deep within me.

I'm still doing some more reading on the subject but curious as to what others have to say.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Speaking in Private and Not Speaking in Public. Why?

Postby selectivemutism » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:42 pm

Hey. i'm 17 years old and still struggling with sm. I was diagnosed at 4. actually it's gotten worse over the last couple years, and i think that is because i'm trying to find myself, and am nervous for what the future is going to hold. Anyway, to answer your question, it's because you have been around those people for your whole life, whereas the others are strangers. you are scared of making a fool of yourself, and to avoid that, your defense mechanism is to stay mute. you are comfortable and relaxed around your family. It can be very emarrassing and frustrating for children, because they know exactly what they want to say, but literally cannot speak. Other people (eg. teachers or strangers) may not understand, and can make the situation worse.
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Re: Speaking in Private and Not Speaking in Public. Why?

Postby HealingMyselves » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:14 am

I agree with the previous user's comments. Selective mutism is classed as an anxiety disorder and is often co-morbid with social anxiety. Basically you get anxious around people you don't know or in situations that your brain feels are highly stressful (like crowds, speaking in public, etc.). Your brain's defence against this is simply to stop allowing you to talk. The reason you may be able to talk to close friends and family is because you are familiar with them, they aren't new or unpredictable and you can be fairly certain that they won't judge or harm you if you stutter or mess up your words or anything like that. With strangers you can't be certain of this so your brain doesn't allow you to speak so the potential for any rejection is a lot smaller.
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