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Toward an Understanding of ‘Reservoir’ Implications in the Treatment of Social Anxiety

His sweating had caused avoidance issues from a young age: For example, he became haircut-phobic due to his fear of sweating in the barber chair at age 12. Over time, his anxiety about the possibility of others seeing his excessive sweating led him to avoid interaction when at all possible. He had an overactive relationship with alcohol, self-medicating with it to ease the fear and pain. Here is what Bob wrote about some of the life experiences in his reservoir:

I felt flawed for many years because I had no family structure like normal people. For years, from the age of 14 on, I was extremely embarrassed/angry/sad about my family situation – the fact that my parents broke up, that my dad went bankrupt and was depressed, and gave up on his kids, that we had to live in cheap apartments with no electricity, and couldn’t pay our mortgage. I was especially embarrassed and angry that my mother behaved like a tramp around my hometown. I was flawed because my parents were…. and I felt their issues and lives defined mine.

Sherry and Bob functioned at different ends of the spectrum, but they exhibit many traits in common.

  • In their reservoirs, was the source of their negative association with adrenaline and hyper-vigilance.
  • In their reservoir was recycling anger and rage at different levels of consciousness.
  • They were perfectionists.
  • Their detachment, as a defense mechanism and adaptation from trauma, was very ingrained.
  • Their psychophysiological (mind-body) response was ingrained.
  • Their social anxiety can be considered a manifestation of post-traumatic stress.

The reservoir contains the basis for the anxiety sufferer’s negative association to adrenaline and the hypervigilance to perceived threats on personhood. Unless that basis is brought to the surface, resolution is impossible. Therefore, it is imperative for the therapist to use a strategy where the patient can bring relevant content to a conscious level and address it in order to channel the energy of anger into proactive behavior and productive energy. Naturally, the sufferer is resistant to this process because it creates discomfort and anxiety. But it is a critical step. When reservoir content is not conscious, it recycles and drives the anxiety and panic.

Another way to understand the anger/rage phenomenon for the social anxiety sufferer is to explore Mind States Balance. Borrowing from concepts of Transactional Analysis developed by Eric Berne and others, the Mind States framework offers a way of understanding the building blocks of personality as they contribute to social anxiety and overall mental health. There are five Mind States: Critical Parent, Nurturing Parent, Adult, Adapted Child, and Natural Child. All are present, and all are necessary. Of them, writes John Dusay in Egograms, “the Critical Parent ego state is the part of the personality that criticizes or finds fault.” (4) The Natural Child mind state, in contrast, includes curiosity, fun, exploration, and desire (p. 102). When the Critical Parent mind state inhibits the development of the Natural Child mind state, the result is frustration, anger, and rage. This occurs on a not necessarily conscious level because the over-adaptive behavior to avoid emotional pain may have led to detachment. The etiology of excessive critical script content is within a person’s reservoir.

When searching for treatment for social anxiety, it is important for the consumer to be aware that many therapeutic methodologies do not facilitate reservoir work. Almost four decades of clinical work with thousands of social anxiety sufferers of all ages has revealed clinical evidence that four pillars must be addressed to effect lasting therapeutic treatment for social anxiety:

  • F = function (physiology)
  • A = action (behavior)
  • T = thinking (cognition)
  • E= emotion

F.A.T.E. ensures comprehensive attention to the reservoir and all that it gives rise to. Therapeutic strategies that do not integrate the reservoir component where the etiology of emotional pathology exists are trivializing the problem and handicapping psychophysiological healing. Click here to access the library of clinical interviews offering insights into healing social anxiety on www.socialanxiety.com.

References:

  1. Sarno, J. (1998). The Mindbody Prescription, New York: Hachette Book Group USA,16-17.
  2. Social Anxiety: The Untold Story. (2011). Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety.
  3. Warren, L. (2012). “Parents’ Devastation as College Student Son, 20, Commits Suicide After Years of Struggling with Uncontrollable Blushing.” Daily Mail. July 11.
  4. Dusay, J. (1977). Egograms: How I See You and You See Me. New York: Harper and Row.
Toward an Understanding of ‘Reservoir’ Implications in the Treatment of Social Anxiety


Jonathan Berent, LCSW, ACSW

Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W., A.C.S.W., is a psychotherapist who has been practicing since 1978. He has created the Berent Treatment Method for Social Anxiety, which is the result of his clinical work with thousands of individuals of all ages with social anxiety since 1978. He is the author of Work Makes Me Nervous: Overcome Anxiety and Build the Confidence to Succeed (Wiley, 2010), Beyond Shyness: How to Conquer Social Anxieties (Simon & Schuster, 1992), and Social Anxiety: The Untold Story, which is an accredited course for mental health professionals (Andrew Kukes Foundation, 2011). Learn more about Jonathan at www.social-anxiety.com.

APA Reference
Berent, J. (2018). Toward an Understanding of ‘Reservoir’ Implications in the Treatment of Social Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/toward-an-understanding-of-reservoir-implications-in-the-treatment-of-social-anxiety/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.