What is Xenophobia?
Xenophobia - Fear of strangers or foreigners.
A key feature of social phobia is the person's fear that he will experience embarrassment and feel humiliated if his behaviour does not meet his own preconceived standard in front of foriegners. The social phobic typically fears that he will behave either inadequately or excessively, or in a manner which will attract the adverse criticism and judgement of others. Commonly, he fears that his anxiety will manifest itself in a visible way such as by blushing, trembling, particularly of the hands, having a quavering voice or stammering, not being able to make eye contact, becoming 'tongue-tied', experiencing nausea, vomiting and the urgent need to urinate.
Symptoms of Xenophobia
Xenophobics commonly have low self-esteem, assuming that they are evaluated negatively and critically by others in a social context and fearing such judgements. They may have a critical standard of behaviour which they have set for themselves and, in the phobic situation, they engage in constant selfmonitoring for signs that they are falling below the ideal. If the social phobic fails in his own estimation to meet his critical standard, it may have the effect of further undermining his already low self-esteem.
Social phobics may also be on the lookout for signs of negative judgements being made about them by other people. In fact, they may be hypersensitive to perfectly innocuous signs or remarks from others and misinterpret these as criticism. The social phobic is already anxious when he enters the feared situation and may well be in a state of heightened physiological arousal (for example raised heartbeat rate, sweating, etc). It is thought that these physical symptoms reinforce the process of self-monitoring, in that the person believes that they are a sign of impending social failure and that they are highly visible and obvious to others.
The person becomes even more self-vigilant which may well have the effect of increasing his physical symptoms of anxiety. All this, combined with his lack of self-worth and low expectations, leads to a reduced likelihood of achieving social success.