Anxious Geographies: Worlds of Social Anxiety

Anxious Geographies: Worlds of Social Anxiety

by Louise E. Boyle
Anxious Geographies: Worlds of Social Anxiety

Anxious Geographies: Worlds of Social Anxiety

by Louise E. Boyle


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Anxious Geographies offers a unique perspective on social anxiety, framing it as both a social and spatial phenomenon. Through a meticulous exploration using online questionnaires and interviews, the book provides a crucial examination of the intricacies of anxious lives.

This book presents a critical intervention in the experience of mental health in 21st century society and provides a compelling geographical account of the underpinnings of anxious experience. The book pivots on the in-depth perspectives of people with social anxiety, diagnosed or ‘sub-clinical’, but with an academic commentary that relates their experience to the medicalisation of a disrupted relational life, offering lessons for all of us in modern societies. Each chapter considers a unique aspect of the social anxiety accounting for the social, spatial, temporal, relational and embodied dynamics, a geographical approach that enriches our understanding of the contexts and conditions that exacerbate and sustain anxious distress. The phenomenological descriptions how social anxiety can profoundly alter a person’s coherent, habitual and embodied sense of being in and navigating through their social and spatial worlds. Through the experiential accounts of anxious distress and by considering the social contexts in which they emerge, this book provides readers with crucial insights into the hidden lives of those living with social anxiety.

This book will be of appeal to academics, researchers, and postgraduate students in the fields of human geography and across the social sciences and humanities. It will also provide useful insights for academics and health professionals in social psychiatry, social psychology, counselling studies and therapeutic practice.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781032074313
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 06/03/2024
Series: Geographies of Health Series
Pages: 164
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.19(h) x (d)

About the Author

Louise E. Boyle is an honorary research fellow in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She has published in Social Science and Medicine and co-edited the forthcoming Routledge Handbook on Spaces of Mental Health and Well-Being (2024).

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction


Motivation and aims

A note on terminology

Researching social anxiety

Structure of this book


Chapter 2 The medicalisation of anxious distress


A ‘neglected disorder’

Social underpinnings of social anxiety

Concluding remarks


Chapter 3: Situating social anxiety


Geographies of health and wellbeing



Restrictive and disruptive temporalities

Layered temporalities


Embodied meaning

Embodied practices

Concluding remarks


Chapter 4: Temporal intensities: ruminations and anticipations





Concluding remarks


Chapter 5: Making sense of anxious experiences: self-diagnosis, diagnosis, and help-seeking


Diagnosing the self

Barriers to diagnosis and support

Seeking formal diagnosis

Affirmative experiences of diagnosis

Negative encounters

Medical and therapeutic spaces

Concluding remarks


Chapter 6: Spatialities of anxious experience I: Home and workplaces



Fragmented home spaces

Domestic routines

Anticipatory objects

Housing conditions


Concluding remarks


Chapter 7: Spatialities of social anxiety II: Diminishing social worlds


Friendships and family relations

Difficulty and uncertainty

Fewer opportunities

Emotional work

Loneliness and social isolation

Third places

Consumer spaces

Public transport

Concluding remarks


Chapter 8: The (un)habitual geographies of social anxiety



The disruption of everyday life

(Un)habitual geographies of social anxiety

Managing time and space

Spatial routes

Spatial screens

Moments of escape

Concluding remarks



Chapter 9: Towards anxious geographies

Reimagining social anxiety

Anxious spatialities

Anxious temporalities

Anxious embodiments

Avenues for future research

Recommendations for policy and practice

Unsung impacts

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