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Miller, J.P., Jr. (1965). The Psychology of Blushing. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:188-199.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:188-199

The Psychology of Blushing

Jule P. Miller, Jr.

A review of the psycho-analytic literature on blushing and erythrophobia, and the psycho-analytic treatment of a patient with erythrophobia, raised a number of questions regarding the completeness of current views of the psychology of blushing. In this paper, along with the citation of a case, I am presenting a reconsideration of the psychodynamics of blushing and am suggesting a more systematic conceptualization.

The term erythrophobia is used in several different ways in the literature. In case reports, it usually refers to a person who not only blushes excessively but who also is very upset by his blushing. In theoretical discussions, however, many authors focus on the blushing itself and do not discuss the phobic reaction to it. I will first review this literature, then report a case of erythrophobia which was successfully analysed and, in the final section, focus on the psychology of blushing proper.


An often quoted early paper on blushing was written by Feldman (1922). In a subsequent publication (1941), he summarized the main points of the 1922 paper as follows: blushing is a libidinous excitement which was repressed and displaced because of castration fear; blushing indicates an unsettled castration complex in both men and women; men are ashamed and blush because they feel castrated, and women because they are not men. Feldman also regarded blushing as an exhibitionistic act in which genital excitement is indicated with the aim of notifying the observer of its erotic significance.

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