Erythrophobia (Fear of Blushing)

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Erythrophobia or ereuthrophobia describes a pathological fear of blushing in public. In the Minutes of the Psychoanalytical Society of Vienna (Nunberg and Federn, 1962-75) the session of February 3, 1909, was devoted to "A case of compulsive blushing" presented by Alfred Adler in the presence of Freud, Paul Federn, Max Graf, Edouard Hitschmann, Albert Joachim, Otto Rank, Isidor Sadger, and Fritz Wittels.

According to Freud, we cannot classify this state among the sexual neuroses because it is situated somewhere between anxiety hysteria and paranoia. These two assertions are to be found in the comments he made after Adler's conference: "Erythrophobia consists of being ashamed for unconscious reasons [. . .]. The first thing these patients were ashamed of was usually masturbation; more generally, the secret of their precocious knowledge with regard to sexuality." And: "Neuroses cannot be expressed with a single current but only by a pair of opposites which are shame and rage in this case. Only the coexistence of these active and passive current explains the case of erythrophobia: it is the meeting of these two currents that produces the attack."

Ernest Jones, for his part, distinguished between "ereuthrophobia," the fear of blushing, and "erythrophobia" or fear of the color red (1913).

Bernard Golse

See also: Phobias in children; Phobic neurosis.


Jones, Ernest. (1913). Pathology of morbid anxiety. Papers on Psychoanalysis. London: Bailliere, Tindall & Cox, 1918.

Nunberg, Hermann; and Federn, Ernst. (1962-75). Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. New York: International Universities Press.