What is Selective Mutism?

The Psych Talk

Selective mutism is a severe form of social anxiety. It results in an individual being unable to speak in certain social situations. However, this person may be able to talk with a few people that they are comfortable with, in a safe environment. It’s important to note they are not choosing silence, they may wish to talk, but they are paralyzed by their fear. This results in silence in situations where there may be consequences such as being shamed or punished. This disorder often occurs in children, but some teenagers and adults also have it. It affects around 0.8% of people at some point in life.


  • Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (in which there is an expectation for speaking, e.g., at school) despite speaking in other conditions.
  • The disturbance interferes with educational or occupational achievement or with social communication.
  • The duration of the disturbance is at least…

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