Olivier, in an interview on 60 Minutes, said that he had reached a point well into middle age and many years into a glorious stage career when he simply could no longer go out on stage. Horowitz retired twice from public performing—each time for more than 10 years—because of his inability to control his nerves. But being the individuals that we are, we all get nervous in different ways and to different degrees. Chopin once referred to another pianist friend of his as “The greatest pianist in the world.” But then he added, ”But you will never hear him, because he cannot play in public.” Two famous performers who were incapacitated by performance anxiety were Vladimir Horowitz and Lawrence Olivier. For the next 15 years or so he focused on a movie career, because making movies didn’t bother him. Late in his career he discovered the drugs that could control the nerves, and he returned to the stage. The universal enemy to all performers is adrenaline, the hormone of the adrenal gland, and the symptoms it creates under the pressure of performance. Those of us who are badly affected by stage freight know that the audience is simply the catalyst that sets things in motion. When Heather, 33, started experiencing paralyaing anxiety triggered by public speaking at her job, she knew she needed something different than the Xanax she was already taking. While she had been able to count on the prescription drug for other situations, it was no match for speaking in front of crowds.“It only calmed me down a little,” says Heather, who lives in New York. “I really felt like I needed a massive tranquiliser to not want to jump out of the window during a presentation.”But she was surprised when her doctor prescribed propranolol – a beta-blocker, typically used to reduce blood pressure – for her anxiety.“It truly is a magic pill,” Heather says, adding that she even uses it for conference calls that tend to instigate her anxiety. “It doesn’t necessarily alleviate your nerves, but any symptom you may experience – for example, your heart pounding out of your chest – is totally eliminated. It’s the best kept secret.”Uh, wait, what are beta-blockers? Beta-blockers are typically used to manage abnormal heart rhythms, reduce high blood pressure or treat angina (chest pain). They work by blocking the body’s beta receptors, which are stimulated by epinephrine (a.k.a.
When we think about performance-enhancing drugs, our minds immediately turn to famous athletes using banned substances to build muscles and heal faster. Lance Armstrong, Mark Mc Gwire, Marion Jones—the list of athletes whose legacies are tainted by alleged (or, in some cases, admitted) drug use seems to grow longer every year. For people whose jobs require public speaking or presentations, a class of drugs called beta-blockers can be a powerful tool to calm the nerves and reduce the jitters that detract from performance. Beta-blockers were discovered by Scottish pharmacologist James Black in 1962 as a treatment for heart disease. The chemicals work by inhibiting the body’s response to adrenaline, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart attack. By the 1970s, doctors had begun using them to reduce performance anxiety, particularly in musicians. However, that remains a secondary use; beta-blockers are still used primarily to improve people’s circulatory systems. If you subscribe to any of our print newsletters and have never activated your online account, please activate your account below for online access. By activating your account, you will create a login and password.
Oct 1, 2009. In the case of performance anxiety, the drugs work by preventing your. Doctors often prescribe propranolol Inderal and other brands in a. Mar 11, 2010. “Performance anxiety is the kind of problem that rears its ugly head in. “Beta-blocking drugs, primarily propranolol, have proved to be safe and.