Porphyrophobia (Fear of Purple)

Porphyrophobia is an intense fear of purple. For some people, the color triggers severe anxiety or panic attacks. Porphyrophobia may cause someone to avoid parks, gardens, stores or any situation where they may encounter purple objects. Psychotherapy and exposure therapy help many people manage the condition.


What is porphyrophobia?

Porphyrophobia is an extreme fear of the color purple. It’s a type of chromophobia, which is a fear of colors. People with porphyrophobia may experience severe anxiety when they see or think of purple in any form, or it might be a reaction to specific shades of purple. They see the color as threatening.

Like other phobias, porphyrophobia can negatively affect your mental health. As it’s impossible to predict when and where you may see the color purple, the condition can make it hard to function in daily life. Porphyrophobia can lead to panic attacks.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

What is a phobia?

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It causes you to become scared of an object, event or situation that isn’t actually dangerous or harmful. There are many types of specific phobic disorders.

What does the color purple signify?

“Porphura” is the ancient Greek word for purple. It originates from the purpura mollusk, which produced a purple substance used to dye clothes for royalty. Over the centuries, the color has come to symbolize:

  • Calm.
  • Creativity.
  • Dignity.
  • Frustration and sadness.
  • Luxury.
  • Magic and mysticism.
  • Power.

In some cases, people who fear purple might be scared of the concepts, ideas or emotions they feel purple represents.


What’s the difference between porphyrophobia and porphyria?

Porphyria describes a group of disorders that affect your skin and nervous system. You have red- and purple-colored chemicals in your body called porphyrins. Usually, these chemicals help create hemoglobin (a substance in your blood). But if you have porphyria, the porphyrins don’t work correctly and build up in your body, making you sick.

How common is porphyrophobia?

There aren’t specific statistics about porphyrophobia. But studies show that about 12% of adults and 19% of teenagers in the U.S. experience a specific phobia at some time in their lives. Phobias are about twice as common in women as they are in men.


Symptoms and Causes

What causes porphyrophobia?

Porphyrophobia, like other phobias, doesn’t usually have a specific cause. Your risk of developing it may increase due to:

  • Associations: Some people fear the concepts or things that purple represents. You might be scared of powerful people, or have anxiety about mysterious or unknown ideas such as magic or mysticism.
  • Family history: Having family members with phobias, anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions can make you more likely to have a similar disorder.
  • Trauma: If you witnessed or experienced a terrible accident or tragic event where the color purple was present, you may associate the color with violence, pain or danger.

What are the symptoms of porphyrophobia?

People with porphyrophobia may avoid any situation where they might encounter the color purple. They may refuse to enter stores with purple signs, or stay out of the produce aisle at grocery stores so they don’t see eggplants or plums. They may even avoid parks or gardens to reduce the chances of seeing purple flowers such as lavender or violets.

It’s also possible for people with porphyrophobia to have panic attacks if they see, think or talk about the color purple. Symptoms of a panic attack can include:

Diagnosis and Tests

How is porphyrophobia diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may diagnose you with porphyrophobia if you:

  • Change your daily habits to avoid encountering purple in any situation.
  • Experience your fear of purple for six months or longer.
  • Feel anxiety or panic at the sight or mention of purple.
  • Have trouble functioning due to your fear of purple.

Like other phobias, porphyrophobia can be difficult to diagnose because different phobias can overlap. Someone with pyrophobia may also have anthophobia (fear of flowers), fructophobia (fear of fruits) or iridophobia (fear of rainbows). They may also have a fear of the colors that make up purple such as erythrophobia (fear of red) or cyanophobia (fear of blue).

People with phobias may also have other mental health disorders, such as:

Healthcare providers rule out these other phobias and disorders before confirming a diagnosis of porphyrophobia.

Management and Treatment

How is porphyrophobia managed or treated?

The most common treatments for porphyrophobia, as well as other phobias, include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of psychotherapy (talk therapy). It helps you change negative thoughts around the thing you fear, such as the color purple. Your therapist may help you pinpoint the specific triggers of your fear. For instance, are you scared of all shades of purple? Do you feel more anxiety when you see a particular purple thing, such as a purple flower or a piece of purple clothing? CBT also teaches techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to cope with the symptoms of a phobia.
  • Exposure therapy: Another form of psychotherapy gradually exposes you to the object of your fear. During exposure therapy, your therapist may ask you to look at pictures that contain purple things or hold a purple item. Over time, you may work on confronting the color purple in a public place or social situation. About 90% of people with specific phobic disorders can overcome their fear with exposure therapy.
  • Medication: Medication doesn’t treat the source of your fear and hasn’t proven very effective for the long-term management of phobias. But if you must be in situations where the color purple will be present, talk to your doctor about anti-anxiety drugs. Certain medications can help you manage occasional panic attacks or other symptoms of fear and anxiety.


Is there a way to prevent porphyrophobia?

There isn’t a way to completely prevent a specific phobic disorder such as porphyrophobia. But there are ways to lower your risk of having panic attacks or frequent bouts of stress and anxiety:

  • Avoid caffeine, drugs or alcohol, which can make anxiety worse.
  • Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise, which can help reduce anxiety.
  • Stay in close communication with your therapist or other healthcare providers.
  • Talk with friends and family members about your fear of purple.

Outlook / Prognosis

What’s the prognosis (outlook) for people with porphyrophobia?

Psychotherapy is very effective for most people managing specific phobic disorders. Therapy may last for months or years, but you can stop treatment once your fear subsides. Phobias may return after long periods of time, so you may need to start treatment again.

Living With

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Contact your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Difficulty functioning in your daily life due to fear of purple.
  • Symptoms of a panic attack.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • Are there lifestyle changes I can make to better manage my fear?
  • Can other treatments, such as hypnotherapy, help me understand my fear of purple?
  • How long will treatment last?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Porphyrophobia is an intense fear of the color purple. Someone with the condition might be scared of certain purple objects or a specific shade of purple. As it’s hard to know when you’ll encounter the color, porphyrophobia can trigger stress and anxiety in lots of situations. If your fear is affecting your daily life and you’re not sure what to do, talk to your healthcare provider. About 9 out of 10 people with a phobia can overcome their fears with psychotherapy.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 06/11/2022.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 866.588.2264