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Confronting the Fear of Blushing

Fear of blushing is linked with faulty assumptions and maladaptive beliefs that stem from adverse experiences in childhood. Credit: Lingbeek/iStockphoto

Fear of blushing is linked with faulty assumptions and maladaptive beliefs that stem from adverse experiences in childhood. Credit: Lingbeek/iStockphoto

By Peter Drummond & Sally Gatt

Fear of blushing is complex, but help is closer at hand now that the origin of this fear is becoming clear.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Most people don’t worry too much about blushing but, regrettably, some people are so frightened of blushing that they avoid social contact or resort to surgery – despite the recognised risks of “compensatory sweating” and other distressing side-effects of surgical treatments.

However, relief may be in sight. New findings published in Clinical Psychologist (http://tinyurl.com/kcpa2ll) suggest that fear of blushing is linked with faulty assumptions and maladaptive beliefs that stem from adverse experiences in childhood. Thankfully, once recognised, these harmful beliefs can be amended.

Blushing is a normal everyday experience, yet we don’t fully understand what purpose it serves. Charles Darwin was intrigued by where blushing might fit into his theory of evolution. He famously wrote, “Blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions,” and pondered the role of self-focused attention for triggering blushing. More cynically, Darwin’s contemporary Mark Twain observed: “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

We now think that blushing, at least in fair-skinned people, can act as an involuntary appeasement signal or an unspoken apology during compromising social encounters. Even so, many people are disturbed by blushing, perhaps because their body betrays...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.