500 Words on Faber Birren's "Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life".
Faber Birren's text “Colour Psychology and Colour Therapy: a factual study of the influence of colour on Human Life” written in 1979 explores the historical, biological, visual and psychological influences of colour on humans. Birren devoted his life to colour, writing more than 20 books in his time on the subject. He explored the effects different colours have on human emotions, and even believed that certain colours could be used therapeutically on the mentally troubled. In this book, Birren explores a number of interesting points, key points including the effects of colour on the metabolism, the symbolic importance of colour and the therapeutic values of precious stones. Birren also looks at a number of experiments to back up his theories; he looks at the effects of colour on the growth of rats, the application of colour and light on mental patients, and the effects of colours on hormones.
Divided into four sections, the historical, biological, visual and psychological aspects, I plan to look into the psychological aspects of color on humans in more detail, along with his case studies to back them up. The psychological section of the book is divided into 5 smaller chapters, Emotional Reactions, Neurotics and Psychotics, Associations and Analogies, The Anatomy of Beauty and This Illusory World. This text was very useful in that Birren regularly uses case studies to support his thoughts.
He often talks about the studies of scientists such as Kurt Goldstein, a recognized authority on psycho neurology, and the physician Felix Deutsch. The opening of the section begins with a simple theory about colour. People can be placed into two groups, those who appreciate the warm end of the spectrum, (red-yellow) and those more sensitive to the cold end, (blue-green)..Birren states that people preferring warm colours “warm colour dominant subjects”, they are more in touch with their social environment. They are more likely to be characterized by warm feelings, and in the “subject-object relationship, the emphasis is on the object.” (Pg 138). He then argues that people preferring cold colours, such as blue and green, calling these people “cold colour dominant subjects”, find it difficult to adapt to new environments and situations, and are “inwardly integrated.” He states that cold colour dominant subjects are less able to express themselves compared with warm colour dominants. Emotionally the cold colour dominant subject is rather reserved and in the “subject-object relationship, the emphasis is on the subject.” (Pg 38). He then goes on to explore the effects of colours on people in more detail. He explores how different colours effect emotions, colour associations and how colour effects the human senses.
Referring to Goldstein's research, he found that red light can cause people to believe objects are heavier, whereas under green light objects will appear lighter. This theory has been adapted to professions, for example, weight lifting rooms will be painted a green colour to cause the weight lifter to believe he can lift more. However, it is the Neurological and Psychological chapter of the Psychological aspects that I am most interested in and will explore more deeply in my essay.