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Title: Do we know the meanings of blushing? : a phenomenological study on what blushing means to the blusher
Author: Wulfing, Natalie
Awarding Body: University of Wales
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2016
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Blushing is a universal phenomenon in humans, and unique to them. Its effects range from minor discomfort, to significant psychological distress. Within psychological research, blushing has been studied in order to find out why we blush (i.e. unwanted attention), what the associated emotion is (i.e. shame), and which pathology it can be ascribed to (i.e. social anxiety). However, the individualised and subjective meanings of blushing have not been researched. This study sought to investigate these meanings from a phenomenological perspective, using IPA, but with a newly developed, back to the founding philosophy, inspired approach. This led to unique findings that highlighted the subjective variations in the blusher. The meanings of blushing were different for each participant, but followed a general rule: Blushing was the bodily sensation of a gap in knowledge. An imagined judging onlooker was imputed to have knowledge about the subject, and the gap itself was experienced as puzzling and difficult to describe. It is thus the relationship to blushing, rather than the universal meaning of blushing, that was discovered. Useful for counselling psychology research and practice alike, the study manifests a new understanding of investigating and interpreting results by revisiting the philosophy that gave us phenomenological research. Counselling psychology will benefit from this novel study in that it demonstrates an interpretative stance that leaves room for each individual client to express their experiences, and for the counselling psychologist to utilise ‘unifying principles’ for understanding, and not a preconceived universal explanation. Clinical applications are relevant to cases where a client seeks help for “pathological or excessive blushing” leading to distress or social anxiety, and aid the counselling psychologist in achieving with his or her client a comprehensive formulation of this clinical problem. This study shows that individual meanings have a common structure that can be applied to how a particular client relates to their difficulty, thus their relationship to it, not only to blushing, but to other clinical presentations.
Supervisor: Harding, Mike Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available