What is Chromatophobia?

Chromatophobia (also known as Chromophobia) is a persistent, irrational fear of colors and is usually a conditioned response. While actual clinical phobias to color are rare, colors can elicit hormonal responses and psychological reactions.

Chromatophobia may also refer to an aversion to colors in products or design. In cellular biology, "chromatophobic" is used to describe cells that do not attract hematoxylin, and is related to chromatolysis.

Examples of fears of specific colors include 'Erythrophobia' (fear of red) and 'Leukophobia' (fear of white). A fear of the color red may be associated with a fear of blood.

The root word 'chrom' is Greek meaning 'colors' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

If you have this phobia, you most likely have one of these phobias too ›

Symptoms of Chromatophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms ›

Causes of Chromatophobia

Chromatophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Such phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well understood, are driven by social anxiety and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Chromatophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Another cause may stem from cultural roots, as some cultures have significant meanings for specific colors. Other associations may reinforce the condition. Old, moldy cheese, for example, has a pale greenish color associated with germs and disease. Also, people who are color-blind could develop Chromatophobia.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Chromatophobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›

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