- Disorientation and inability to focus attention, e.g. on where one is in a presentation.
- A feeling of having forgotten one’s craft, e.g. words, basic knowledge.
- Subjective feeling of loss of control – the brain ‘goes blank’ and the head is ‘swimming’.
- Constant worry about the inability to perform successfully.
- A feeling of being alone or deserted.
- A sense of desperation at not having the power to deal with the event.
- A feeling of paralysis and inability to act, in which the body feels inert.
- A desire to escape or sabotage the event.
- A desperation to come to the end and get it all over with.
- An anticipation of failure and humiliation in front of others who expect success.
When I read the above list, I said- this is our good old stammering being described. But I was surprised to know that all these are experienced by ‘normal’ people and is called ‘Performance anxiety’. This online chapter on ‘performance confidence’ is an excellent read for PWS:
Further down this same article explains how PWS can help themselves with a ‘mental switch’ in their mindset: the moment they decide to talk about their stammering to people around them to educate and spread awareness- they are no more victims- but ‘rescuers’; read carefully this excerpt from the same chapter:
“The perception of the performer suffering from anxiety is that the performer is the ‘victim’ and the audience or one’s fellow performers are the ‘persecutor’. In this case there are useful switches that can immediately improve the situation. If the performer acts more like a teacher, trainer or all-round educator of the audience, then the performer can feel more like the ‘rescuer’… The key is to avoid the victim role, and consequently its emotional quality of fear and vulnerability.”
Thank you Andrew Evans! I always knew that I was on to something when I started ‘my’ SHG with 3 pws some years ago..