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Fishback, D. (1943). The Nature of Shyness: Hilde Lewinsky. Brit. J. of Psychology, XXXII, 1941, pp. 105–113.. Psychoanal Q., 12:449-450.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Nature of Shyness: Hilde Lewinsky. Brit. J. of Psychology, XXXII, 1941, pp. 105–113.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:449-450

The Nature of Shyness: Hilde Lewinsky. Brit. J. of Psychology, XXXII, 1941, pp. 105–113.

Dora Fishback

The author describes shyness as a state of hyperinhibition, accompanied by certain physical symptoms. It is characterized by feelings of inferiority and self-consciousness. A strongly ambivalent attitude is the rule, the wish to avoid others struggling against the wish to be with them.

Shyness in childhood may be considered normal because it represents a partial adaptation to reality (dependence upon adults), but in adults it suggests a weak, egocentric personality.

Shyness and boastfulness are compared, the latter being merely an aggressive, uninhibited way of disguising the former. In shyness the aggression is inhibited by fear. The relationship between shyness and boastfulness is clearly seen in alcohol or drug addiction in which the inhibited, withdrawn individual becomes cheerful and boastful under the influence of the drug. In a footnote the author states that overcoming of shyness by accepting aggression has been shown to have a beneficial effect in cases of functional enuresis in children.

The preoccupation and the infantilism of the shy individual, together with the characteristic mistrust of others, leads to the formation of a rigid, narcissistic character. A possible connection with castration fear is indicated in some languages (Icelandic and Swedish) in which the same words mean 'to snub' or 'to castrate'.

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The author feels that the combination of involuntary mental suffering and impaired relations with the environment, a combination which is characteristic of psychoneurosis, indicates that shyness is a psychoneurotic syndrome.

Summarizing, the author states that 'shyness is a state of hyperinhibition through fear, shame, and mistrust, directed partly against the environment, partly against the subject's own impulses: mainly aggression and sexuality'.

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Article Citation

Fishback, D. (1943). The Nature of Shyness. Psychoanal. Q., 12:449-450

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