Pick Up Artists and Social Anxiety

Clarisse Thorn, Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser, 2012

During my PUA research, I tangentially ran across a paper on social anxiety.  Turns out, lots of people with social phobia have excessively high standards for their social performance.  The paper notes that social phobics may think things like, “I must not show any signs of weakness,” or, I must always sound intelligent and fluent.”
Or perhaps some social phobics might think, “I must  be attractive to all women.”
Many people with social phobia also engage in what’s described as “safety-seeking behaviors”; basically, they overanalyze the social situation, and look for ways to categorize it.  (Like classifying behaviors into “Indicators of Interest” and “shit tests,” perhaps?)  Social phobics try to think of actions that will protect them from some made-up social catastrophe.  Then, if they make it through the encounter without catastrophe, they conclude that it was because of their safety-seeking behaviors.  Witness:
Patients with social phobia who are worried that what they say may not make sense and will sound stupid, often report memorizing what they have said and comparing it with what they are about to say, while speaking.  If everything goes well, patients are likely to think, “It only went well because I did all the memorizing and checking, if I had just been myself people would have realized how stupid I was.” 
Are you pondering openers and routines?  Me too.
Here are some suggested treatments for social phobia:
*The patient can keep a log of successful social encounters in order to build up a positive self-image.  (Field Reports.  Lay Reports.)
*  The patient can break down some of the minor rules of social interaction, so they learn that breaking social rules isn’t the end of the world.  (Sarging could be viewed as deliberately breaking the rules.  So could peacocking, when the PUA wears clothing that’s deliberately out of place.)
*  The patient is encouraged to deliberately avoid their safety-seeking behaviors.  (Advanced PUAs often tell beginners that memorized routines are just a step in the process, and should eventually be abandoned.)
In other words, a lot of PUA methods look very much like classic behavioral treatments for social anxiety.

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