A Word with the DOCTOR
by Dr John Winsor
The Sunday Times of Malta

Colour therapy

THERE IS a growing amount of evidence to suggest that we are all affected by colours, and the ones we choose could even influence how we think and act.

Some psychologists are now so confident that colour-coding people pays off, that they use colour tests to help employers recruit new members of staff.

As part of the tests, experts hand patients a whole series of coloured cards, and ask them to put them in order of preference. The sequence of colours chosen is particularly important. For example, some experts believe that an individual who picks grey and then red is probably not very trustworthy.

Other colour experts study the colour of an individual's clothes and even the colour of the ink in his or her pen. Use red ink and you'll be branded as pig-headed. Use violet ink and the psychologist will put you down as dominating.

But colours aren't just used for making diagnoses about people. They are also used for treatments.

Researchers at the University of California claim that yellow helps people lose weight, green helps convalescent patients, violet helps depression, while turquoise is good for spots.

A psychologist from Boston University has even suggested that a patient who has difficulty in getting to sleep should try gazing at something blue for 20 minutes or so. Blue, it is said, is a calming colour which relieves tension and reduces blood pressure.

On the other hand, red light lowers the pain threshold, say researchers at Cambridge University.

Drug companies have been using colours therapeutically for years. They believe that blue is the best colour for heart drugs, yellow is the best for anxiety, orange stimulates the appetite and red is good for pain.

They do, however, have to be careful when selling pills around the world. The drug company which tried to promote a blue contraceptive pill in a blue package in India discovered that Indian women regarded blue as a colour for women with a rather less than immaculate moral character!

Hospital designers have had their problems too. The colour recommended for intensive care units is purple, but one hospital where the whole unit had to be repainted when it was found that the purple walls were making all the patients look cyanosed and close to death.

So, despite colour therapy having its uses, there are plenty of teething problems to be overcome.