What is “anthropophobia” and how does it relate to movies, songs, and TV shows about social anxiety?

Anthropophobia is another word of “the fear of people.” A survey published by security company ADT in 2020 found that anthropophobia was America’s most searched-for phobia that year.

In that study, anthropophobia accounted for 22% of all phobias that people searched for online, a five-fold increase over 2019.

Anthropophobia vs social anxiety

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, and anthropophobia are both anxiety disorders that involve a fear of social interactions, but they differ in their specificity and scope.

Social anxiety disorder involves a fear of social judgment leading to nervousness and avoidance of social interactions, while anthropophobia is a broader fear of people that can cause anxiety and isolation in any setting, regardless of potential judgment.

Anthropophobia and social anxiety in popular culture

These fears are quite relatable, and often make for a poignant theme that has been depicted in various forms of media.

From the isolating depths of personal fear to the uplifting journeys of overcoming, these stories offer insights into the human experience.

Below is a look at some popular movies, books, songs, and TV shows that have beautifully captured the essence of social anxiety.


  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – This coming-of-age film, based on the novel by Stephen Chbosky, follows the story of Charlie, an introverted teenager, as he navigates the complexities of high school, first love, and the lurking shadows of mental illness.
  • Eighth Grade (2018) – A heartfelt portrayal of adolescence, this film centers on Kayla, an eighth-grader struggling with social anxiety as she prepares to transition to high school.
  • Dear Evan Hansen (2021) – Adapted from the Broadway musical, this movie delves into the life of Evan Hansen, a high school student with social anxiety disorder who becomes entangled in a complicated web of lies after the death of a classmate.


  • “Breathin” by Ariana Grande – This pop song captures the feeling of being overwhelmed and the struggle to keep anxiety at bay, echoing the sentiments of those who experience social anxiety.
  • “Help!” by The Beatles – A classic tune that, while not explicitly about social anxiety, reflects the universal plea for assistance when facing personal difficulties.

TV Shows

  • Atypical – This series follows the life of Sam, an 18-year-old on the autism spectrum, as he seeks love and independence. While the show primarily focuses on autism, it also touches on social anxiety through its portrayal of Sam’s experiences.
  • BoJack Horseman – An animated series that, while satirical and comedic, offers a deep dive into the psyche of its protagonist, including his struggles with social anxiety and self-worth.

These movies, books, songs, and TV shows provide a window into the world of social anxiety, offering both those who suffer from it and those who wish to understand it a chance to see the world from a different perspective. Through the lens of popular media, we can find comfort, empathy, and maybe even a path to our own healing.

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