At first glance one could expect chromophobia to be an irrational fear of objects made of chrome. Well, it could be as people have a fear of all sorts of things. However, it is the fear of colour in general or sometimes of a particular colour. 'Chrom' is Greek for colour and 'phobia' is Greek for fear. It is also called chromatophobia and chrematophobia.
Why would someone have chromophobia? It is thought the cause is often due to a traumatic memory or association with a particular colour. Phobias probably develop in some people but not in others due to a combination of genetic makeup, hereditary and brain chemistry. A specific event which the individual finds traumatic will then trigger the development of a phobia.
Some people are afraid of the colour red (erythrophobia) due to its association with blood. Chromophobia could develop following an accident where there was a great deal of blood, either their own or that of another person.
An individual who is afraid of the color green suffers prasinophobia. They may have suffered a traumatic event as a small child such as being trapped in thick undergrowth, creeper or nearly drowning in water covered in blue green algae. Fearing green may make the person afraid of going outside where there is lots of naturally occurring green.
It is possible to develop an irrational fear of any colour, not just red and green.
When exposed to the colour the individual fears they may experience one or more of the following symptoms,
feelings of panic
elevated heart rate
Occasionally people with colour blindness develop chromophobia. Being unable to distinguish certain colours may have had a bad consequence. They may have experienced a panic attack because they were unsure what colours were in front of them.
Sensitivity to light can also cause chromophobia.
Treatments for chromophobia include desensitisation therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. Gradually exposing the sufferer to increasing amounts of the colour they fear or colour in general may help them to overcome the phobia in time. They may need to identify what triggered the phobia and talk to a trained counsellor or psychologist about it.
The human brain is the body's most complex organ. Traumatic experiences, especially when accompanied by a genetic predisposition and specific brain chemistry can lead to ongoing challenges for an individual. A person with a phobia which prevents them from doing everyday activities can be helped by a supportive GP who can refer them to an appropriate service.