Can you die of embarrassment?

Yes, even if this is extremely rare. The first documented case was in 1860, when a woman who had been caught stealing in front of a large group of people died on the spot. It turned out she’d suffered a heart attack as a result of an extreme rush of adrenaline and other stress hormones. It’s not only embarrassing ourselves that can have direct effects on the body; so can feeling embarrassed on behalf of someone else. Researchers from the University of Marburg discovered that people automatically feel empathy when they observe other people being humiliated – this can then unleash real psychological pain in the onlooker. The closer you are standing to a person, the more intensely embarrassed you will feel on behalf of them, because you are able to sympathise more.

Quick fact

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