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Stage fright or performance anxiety refers to an anxiety, fear or persistent phobia related to performance in front of an audience or camera. This form of anxiety can precede or accompany participation in any activity involving public self-presentation.

Often the term "stage fright" is conflated with glossophobia, a broader fear of speaking in public.

Performance anxiety is also observed in sportspeople. In the latter case it is interpreted as a fear to underperform (in view of the actual public or implied publicity).

Quite often stage fright arises in a mere anticipation of a performance, often long time ahead. It has numerous manifestations: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in hands and legs, diarrhea, facial nerve tics, dry mouth.

Stage fright may be observed in ordinary people, beginning artists, as well as in accomplished ones.

Treatment

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be helpful.

Some musicians use beta blockers to avoid stage fright during auditions, and performances.[1]

References & Bibliography

Key texts

Books

Papers

  1. Better Playing Through Chemistry by Blair Tindall, New York Times, October 17, 2004. (Discussing the use of beta-blockers among professional musicians)
  • Jackson, J.M, and Latane, B. (1981) All alone in front of all those people: stage fright as a function of number and type of co-performers and audience, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 40: 73-85.

Additional material

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