Komi can’t communicate is a positive example of supporting someone with social anxiety

Komi can’t communicate is a slice-of-life comedy anime based on the popular shonen manga of the same name. The series follows high school student Shoko Komi as she deals with her crippling social anxiety with the help of her friends, Tadano and Najimi. Komi’s behaviors are similar to Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

Although Komi is worshiped as the goddess of her school due to her beauty and “graceful” personality, her classmates don’t realize that her aloofness stems from crippling social anxiety. Komi is terrified of interacting with the people around her, even though she desperately wants to communicate and make genuine connections. When Tadano transfers to Komi’s elite school, his exceptional observation skills allow him to understand Komi’s feelings. He decides to help Komi achieve her goal of getting a hundred friends by the end of high school.

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What is social anxiety disorder and how does it affect Komi?

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is one of the social disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a reference guide used by health professionals around the world. There are two categories of Social Anxiety Disorder: Generalized Social Anxiety – the more severe and pervasive form – and Social Performance Only Anxiety – anxiety related to a social situation like public speaking. The symptoms of SAD can be both mental and physical. For example, someone with SAD may avoid social situations and have negative self-perceptions while also experiencing increased heart rate, shakiness, sweating, or digestive problems.

Although the anime doesn’t explicitly state it, Komi has the telltale signs of General Social Anxiety Disorder. along the Komi can’t communicate, the audience can see his extreme restlessness in social situations. Komi also has physical symptoms when she shakes, hers, and blushes. As Komi’s classmates deeply admire her, they place her on a pedestal and revere her from afar, further isolating her and making it harder for her to connect with them. Komi misinterprets her peers’ admiration as avoidance, which exasperates her anxiety and negative self-perception.

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Komi’s friends help her overcome anxiety

Komi with her friends in Komi Can't Communicate.

What finally sets Komi on the path to overcoming her social anxiety is her determination to connect with others, despite how hard it is to do so. Tadano sympathizes with Komi’s efforts and decides to help her, starting with becoming her first friend. According to mental health experts, some tips to help someone overcome SAD are: be patient, avoidance, stay positive, celebrate small wins, and encourage you to seek professional treatment. While not perfect, Tadano and Najimi consistently provide Komi with this support.

When Tadano notices Komi’s inability to speak, he suggests that she communicate in writing. Tadano and his colleagues patiently create space for Komi to communicate through writing, but this quickly becomes a crutch. Where Tadano might coddle Komi, Najimi pushes Komi out of her comfort zone and into social situations. Najimi regularly invites Komi and Tadano to social events, such as going to the pool during the summer or playing games with classmates. Tadano’s patience, empathy, and Najimi’s outgoing nature create a balanced duo and a safe place for Komi to grow. As a result, the audience gets to see Komi’s growth throughout the series. Colleagues of hers also begin to understand Komi and see her as a fully actualized person rather than an untouchable deity.

Despite Komi can’t communicate depicts the misunderstandings between the characters and Komi’s physical reactions to laughter, the anime doesn’t shy away from the realities of social anxiety. Komi has a hard time making friends, though she desperately wants something that is related to the public. She starts her journey to overcome her social anxiety with the support of her friends. While not perfect, Komi can’t communicate it can be a positive example of how to overcome social anxiety and how to help someone who is dealing with it.

Komi can’t communicate is a positive example of supporting someone with social anxiety

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