Fear of colors is called Chromophobia – a word derived from two Greek words namely Chromos and Phobos which respectively mean color and fear or deep aversion. Note that Chromatophobia or Chromophobia is often denoted as the fear of smells or odors. However, there is another word for fear of smells, which is Osmophobia. So, when we say that someone is a Chromatophobe then it usually only means that s/he cannot stand specific colors.
Some sufferers may be afraid of only certain shades of colors- for example, red. Many are known to fear this color (specifically known as Erythrophobia in scientific parlance) as it is symbolic of blood, death or violence. In other cases, the phobic might fear all bright colors in general. For such individuals, day to day life can be difficult as the sight and presence of the specific colors can induce anxiety or panic attack. People with the fear of colors tend to suffer from many debilitating symptoms, which we will study shortly. Often, they are unable to hold down jobs or even have steady relationships. As a result, life can become miserable for them. Going outdoors can become a difficult task for them, for the fear of encountering the hated colors. Places like Las Vegas with their brightly colored lights are usually avoided by people with such a phobia. Amongst celebrities with Chromatophobia, Billy Bob Thornton is a famous name.
Here are different names for phobias associated with specific colors:
Fear of blue color – Cyanophobia
Fear of yellow color – Xanthophobia
Fear of green color – Prasinophobia
Fear of orange color – Chrysophobia
Fear of pink color – Rhodophobia
Fear of brown color – Kastanophobia
Fear of white color – Leukophobia
Fear of black color – Melanophobia
Causes of Chromatophobia
Post traumatic stress disorder is a common cause of Chromophobia. An event in the childhood might lead to permanent emotional scars associated with certain colors or shades which the phobic simply cannot outgrow. Events like child abuse, rape, death, accidents or violence, could all be related to a particular color causing the phobic to panic or become anxious in its presence.
Another cause of the fear of colors stems from cultural roots. Certain cultures have significant meanings for specific colors which can have a negative connotation for the phobic. The west, for example, treats certain colors as foreign, superficial or corrupting.
In most cases, the deep fear or hatred for certain colors can stem from classical conditioning. There are some colors which are just disagreeable. Old and moldy cheese for example has a pale sickly color associated with germs and disease, which may be associated in a negative manner.
Heredity, brain chemistry, certain deficiencies, existing phobias can also cause Chromatophobia.
Symptoms of Chromophobia
The symptoms of effects of fear of color vary from individual to individual depending on the level of the fear. Typical symptoms are as follows:
- Extreme anxiety or panic attack
- Shortness of breath- rapid and shallow breaths
- Profuse sweating
- Irregular heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Inability to speak or formulate coherent sentences
- Shaking, shivering, trembling
The phobic might also display Agoraphobia or fear of leaving one’s home. S/he may suffer from depression owing to loneliness that stems from the inability to form friendships. As stated before, one may not be able to hold down jobs or might refuse to travel for work. These self-limiting behaviors can affect one’s performance in school and at work.
Treatment for the fear of colors
The best thing to do to overcome the fear of colors is to use therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic programming, and psychotherapy which are all proven to help overcome many different kinds of phobias. Drugs may also be prescribed to relieve anxiety; however these tend to have side effects which can be pretty debilitating.
Hypnosis – This treatment for Chromatophobia must be done under the guidance of a trained specialist. Using this therapy, the phobic has his/her mind opened to new suggestions. With positive suggestions, the therapist instructs the phobic’s mind to attach different feeling to the object of fear- in this case color or odors.
NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming is the study of how the mind creates reality. It involves changing words and perceptions associated with the fear of colors. The analyst listens to the words and phrases used by the phobic to describe the colors s/he fears. Then the therapist attempts to remove those mental thoughts and associations that cause panic attacks when the phobic sees the colors that s/he fears.
Other mind body techniques such as energy healing may also be used for treating fear of colors phobia. These also include practices such as positive visualization, T’ai Chi, Yoga, deep meditation, breathing techniques and so on. It is always better to use these non-medicinal approaches for treating Chromophobia rather than using drugs that come with numerous side effects.