Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Medical Treatment of Performance Anxiety: A Comprehensive Approach

Robert Thayer Sataloff, Deborah Caputo Rosen, Steven Levy
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 14 Number 3: Page 122 (September 1999)

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Abstract: Psychological stress is intrinsic to vocal performance. For most people, sharing emotions is stressful even in the privacy of one's home, let alone under spotlights in front of a room full of people. Virtually all performers have experienced at least some symptoms of anxiety during their performance history, and virtually all fear their reemergence. Under ordinary circumstances, during training, a performer learns to recognize his or her customary anxiety about performing, to accept it as part of his or her instrument, and to compensate for it. When psychological pressures become severe enough to impair or prohibit performance, careful evaluation and treatment are required. Such occurrences usually are temporary and happen because of a particular situation such as short notice for a critically important performance, a recent family death, or some other trauma or distraction. Chronic disabling psychological stress in the face of performance is a more serious problem. In its most extreme forms, performance anxiety actually disrupts the performer's skills; in its milder form, it lessens the enjoyment of appearing in public.1 According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), performance anxiety meets the criteria for social phobia (social anxiety disorder

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