Fear of colors (chromophobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

The world of psychopathology is a complex world, and there are many disorders that humans can experience.. Personality, mood, anxiety disorders … these are one of the most common reasons for psychological consultation.

Among the different types of anxiety disorders are phobias, which are irrational fears that cause great discomfort and can seriously affect the life of the person suffering from them.

In this article, we will talk about a curious but rare phobia: agoraphobia or fear of colors (chromophobia). In the following lines, we explain its causes, symptoms and treatment.

    What is chromophobia

    Phobias are irrational and persistent fears that are characterized by an anxious symptomatology which leads the person to feel the need to avoid the dreaded stimulus or to escape from it. Phobias cause great discomfort and can negatively affect the life of the person suffering from this disease.

    Phobic disorders are encompassed under anxiety disorders, and there are different types as we explain in our article “Types of Phobias: Exploring Fear Disorders”. These pathologies are classified as complex phobias and simple phobias. Among the former are social phobias and agoraphobia, and simple phobias are called specific phobias, in which the phobic stimulus is an object, situation or animal.

    Chromophobia or fear of colors is a specific phobia that is characterized by the fact that the person who suffers from it is an irrational fear of colors.. It varies from person to person, as each individual feels great discomfort in the presence of a particular color or several of them, to the point where the visualization of that color in question makes them feel intense discomfort.

    The most common types of chromophobia are usually xanthophobia, which is an irrational fear of yellow, or melanophobia or an irrational fear of dark. In many cases, superstitious ideas can be at the root of this phobia.

    the causes

    Phobias are developed through learning, particularly through a type of associative learning called classical conditioning, which was originally studied by Ivan Pavlov and popularized by John Watson, an American psychologist. This happens after a traumatic experience, and the person associates this painful event with a stimulus that was originally neutral., Which ends up eliciting the same response that caused the traumatic event. In other words, extreme fear.

    • If you want to know more about this type of learning, you can read our article “Classical conditioning and its most important experiences”

    Other causes of fear of colors

    But phobias can come from different ways. Another type of learning related to the development of phobias is vicarious conditioning. In other words, the person does not need to experience the traumatic event in their own skin, but rather the observation of an emotionally painful situation in another person can lead an individual to develop this pathology.

    Phobia experts also claim that these disorders are common because we humans are biologically prepared to feel fear, as it is a highly adaptive emotional, which has been used for the survival of the human species in the past. over the centuries. In this sense, fear arises from primitive associations in the primitive brain, not cognitive associations in the neocortex, which is why phobics have serious difficulty overcoming the disorder even knowing they are suffering from it. Phobias do not respond to logical arguments.

    Symptoms of phobias

    The types of phobia vary depending on the phobic stimulus that triggers it. When we talk about arachnophobia, we are not talking about the spiders that cause fear. In the case of aerophobia, it is the act of flying in an airplane that causes the discomfort. However, the symptoms are common regardless of the type of phobia.

    These symptoms are generally classified into cognitive, behavioral and physical. Cognitive symptoms include fear, anxiety, lack of concentration, or catastrophic thoughts. In terms of behavioral symptoms, avoidance and evasion behaviors are common. Avoidance refers to not being exposed to the stimulus, which is not yet present. When we talk about escape, we mean getting out of the situation where the stimulus is present. The physical symptoms are varied, hyperventilation, hyperhidrosis, headache, nausea, among other symptoms.

    Treatment and therapy

    While phobias are common disorders, the prognosis for recovery is very positive. There is a lot of research that has been done to find out what is the best treatment for these cases.

    Based on scientific data, cognitive behavioral therapy appears to be the most effective. This form of therapy aims to modify these habits, behaviors and thoughts. that lead to a person suffering from a mental disorder. For this, different techniques are used, and for the treatment of phobias, two of the most common are relaxation techniques and exposure techniques.

    However, the technique par excellence is systematic desensitization, which combines the two above and consists of gradually exposing the patient to the feared stimulus. The patient also learns different coping strategies which help him not to avoid or escape the feared stimulus.

    In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, there are other types of therapy that have been shown to be effective in treating phobias. The best known are mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and acceptance and engagement therapy.

    You can find out more in our articles:

    • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: what is it?

    • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Principles and Characteristics

    Bibliographical references:

    • EB, Foa; Blue, JS, Prout, M. and Latimer, P. (1977). Is horror a necessary component of flooding (implosion)? Research and behavioral therapy (15).
    • Nardone, Giorgio. (1997). Fear, panic, phobias: short therapy Barcelona: Empresa Editorial Herder SA

    Leave a Comment