Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Using b-blockers to Control Stage Fright: A Dancer's Dilemma

David Alan Harris
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 16 Number 2: Page 72 (June 2001)

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Abstract: Performing artists face numerous challenges, of which few may be more threatening to a meaningful career than performance anxiety. Stage fright, as this anxiety is commonly known, involves an internal conflict between the need to display one's artistry publicly and the concurrent fear of proving inadequate and ultimately suffering public rejection.1 Typically presenting as a fear of humiliation in situations involving scrutiny by others, this phobia is frequently associated with behavioral, cardiovascular, and neuroendocrine activation, and can manifest itself in a variety of physical discomforts.2 Many an actor or singer whose mouth goes dry as the curtain is about to rise, a violinist whose fingers tremble, or a dancer who experiences nausea, a racing heart rate, shallow breath, or loss of muscular control at such moments is painfully aware that stage fright is not something a performer can afford to ignore. Performers fear that these debilitating bodily manifestations of distress may prematurely bring down the final curtain on a chosen profession.

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