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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 18-Feb-11

 


Friday 18-February-11

Banishing blushing

Blushing is a natural human response to embarrassing situations that afflicts some people more than others. It is not very clear why it happens from an evolutionary point of view and had a strangely paradoxical element in that showing embarrassment in this way is itself embarrassing.

So can it be 'cured'? Research has shown that a fear of blushing develops through an excessive focus on the self that is exacerbated by a positive feedback loop where the person feels themself going red and so fixates on it in a way that effectively deepens and extends the blushing effect. Perhaps if you could take their minds off themselves then you could break the loop and reduce this effect.

Samia Chaker and colleagues got 27 anxious blushers together for a weekend of 'task concentration training' to try and help them slough off this subconscious problem. The general principle was to get them away from thinking about themselves through such activities as reading stories, role-playing and watching themselves on video. They were also advised on how to redirect their attention, first in non-threatening situations and then in more difficult social contexts. By the end of the weekend, 37% showed a significant decrease in their fear of blushing and after 6 months this rose to 56% (most in those who had properly practiced the given techniques).

The good news in all this is you can control things within you that seem to be beyond your control. All it needs is understanding and practice.

Reference:
Chaker S, Hofmann SG, & Hoyer J (2010). Can a one-weekend group therapy reduce fear of blushing? Results of an open trial. Anxiety, stress, and coping, 23 (3), 303-18


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