Behavior: Omygod

It is a peculiarly harrowing, morbid anxiety. It is as familiar to the little boy in the second-grade pageant as it is to the Broadway star; the soldier at roll call suffers from it, and so does the speaker at a Rotary luncheon. The stomach churns. The hands sweat. The mouth goes dry and the mind goes blank. Down comes a curtain of helpless despair. The victim wishes he could be somewhere, anywhere else—now. But he cannot be: the audience is waiting.

Writing in the current issue of New York University's Drama Review, Psychoanalyst Donald M. Kaplan traces stage fright through...

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