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What Is Porphyrophobia?

By Judith Smith Sullivan
Updated May 17, 2024
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Porphyrophobia is the fear of the color purple. Like many phobias, the fear is not based on any actual danger, but is an irrational fear that causes adverse physical reactions. Symptoms of porphyrophobia include sweating, dizziness, nausea, disjointed thinking, heart palpitations, dry mouth, trembling, and panic whenever the affected individual sees the color purple. Phobias are considered highly curable through self-help and professional therapy.

The difference between a rational fear and a phobia is how the fear affects a person's normal life. For instance, it is normal for a person to feel nervous looking off the top of a very tall building. It is a phobia if the person refuses to visit a friend who lives in a tall apartment building or to take a job on a top floor of a skyscraper. When a person gives the fear first priority, regardless of consequences or extenuating circumstances, that fear is usually a phobia.

Someone who suffers from the fear of the color purple would probably spend most of their day in a state of constant anxiety. A co-worker's scarf or the colorful jacket of a book could send a porphyrophobic into a panic attack. Even watching a movie or surfing the Internet would be a frightful experience. Often, when a person suffers from the fear of a commonplace object or concept, they withdraw from society in order to avoid their fear. This can lead to agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia is literally translated as the fear of open places. In actuality, agoraphobia is the fear of having a panic attack in public. When the object of fear is commonplace, like the color purple, the person suffering from the phobia often develops agorophobia as a reaction to having panic attacks in environments outside of the home. A fear like porphyrophobia could drive a person to avoid most outside environments and to limit contact with others in order to avoid seeing the color purple.

Not all phobias are as debilitating as porphyrophobia. Some phobias are connected to things that are easily avoidable. When this is the case, the person suffering from the fear simply avoids the rare occasion in which their fear might manifest, but typically doesn't have to change day to day behavior. For instance, someone with selachophobia, or the fear of sharks, may just avoid getting in the water at the beach or visiting the shark tank at an aquarium. Similarly, someone with automatonophobia can probably live a long, happy life without taking unusual precautions to avoid wax statues.

When a phobia interferes with day to day life, it is important that the person seek treatment. Porphyrophobia, like most phobias, is highly treatable. Self-help methods are quite useful and can cure less severe cases of phobia. Self-help also puts the individual in control and gives him or her confidence in personal strengths and abilities. The most basic method involves facing the fear gradually.

For instance, reducing porphyrophobia might begin with the phobic person simply writing the word "purple" and dealing with the ensuing feelings. After becoming calm again, the person might imagine the color. This would be followed by looking at a very small amount of the color and then a larger amount. With each step, the fear is conquered a bit more until the person has the ability to deal with the fear without suffering a severe physiological reaction.

Professional therapy, hypnotherapy, and various other forms of professional help are also beneficial. The fear can typically be cured or greatly overcome within a few sessions. Topics during therapy include the fear itself, relaxation techniques, and dealing with negative or self-deprecating thoughts.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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