Thursday, 24 March 2011

Dissertation Proposal Part 2

Student Name
Suzanne Plunkett
Course Jewellery and Metalwork Design
Supervisor name Dr Sandra Wilson
Email address
Date 12/03/11


Exploring the benefits of colour in relation to neurological disorders.
- How can this be applied to Jewellery Design?

(18 words)


By researching colour psychology, colour therapy and gemstone therapy, it is my aim to explore how these alternative methods can be used to aid the treatment of human illnesses, both physical and mental. With the use of secondary research in the form, for example, of American writer Faber Birren’s life long devotion of research into Colour psychology, the explorat
ion of ancient and modern Gemstone therapy and using a series of methods including observation, focus groups and larger participatory workshops, I plan to explore the benefits of h
olistic treatments, how colour affects us in our day to day lives and how colour and gemmology can be used in a positive way to treat such illnesses as depression, schizophrenia, insomnia etc, including various physical health issues. By visiting the Dundee Association for Mental Health, with their permission I hope to observe a number of sessions in which patien
ts are being treated with colour therapy to help relieve stress, depression, headaches, fear and anxiety. As I am particularly interested in schizophrenia and treatments for it, I also plan to get in touch with the neurology department of the university in order to find out more, first hand, on how colour affects the brain and the body.

(An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan taken of identical twin brothers, unaffected twin (a), and affected twin (b). Showing the loss of brain tissue in affected twin.)

For my dissertation it will be necessary to use a combination of quantitive and qualitive research methods, as although a large portion of my topic is based around science, looking at how the brain reacts to colour, the rest will be aimed at gathering a deeper understanding of human behaviour and human psychology.

Colour preferences can tell us a great deal about a person’s personality. Birren states that if a person prefers warmer colours such as hues of red and oranges, they are likely to me more aware of their social environment. He labels these as “warm colour dominant subjects.” On the other hand, those preferring cooler colours such as blues and greens, are categorized generally as “cold colour dominant subjects” and are recognised as finding it challenging to adapt themselves to new environments and situations”(Pg138). By splitting people into separate categories, based on their colour preferences, Birren finds himself able to establish a greater understanding of their personalities and characteristics. As well as teaching us about an individual’s personality, colour can also be used as a tool when dealing with the mentally ill. Courtesy of the work by Hans Huber, it was proven that patients suffering manic tendencies preferred the colour red, a symbol of blood and anger. Hysterical patients were more sensitive to green, “perhaps as an escape”, the colour linked to paranoid subjects was found to be brown and schizophrenics are sensitive to yellow.

Persons suffering from neurological disorders are known as having nervous (neurotic) and mental(psychotic) disturbances, and are far more likely to be affected by colour than those who do not suffer from such illnesses. A non sufferer will become less sensitive to colours as they reach adolescence and onwards, where as the reactions from suffering patients is almost childlike and shows extreme sensitivity. This is shown in an experiment carried out by a doctor known as Ponza in 1875 where red and blue was used to decorate several rooms, with coloured glass windows, coloured furnishings and coloured walls. After studying a man stricken with taciturn delirium in the red room, he became noticably happy and cheerful. The same was done to a man who previously refused food, and he was found to ask for breakfast the next morning. As for blue, “A violent case who had to be kept in a strait jacket was shut in the room with the blue window, and less than an hour afterwards he had become calmer.”

Throughout the ages, colour has been considered to be one of the greatest healers, particularly the sun and it’s seven colours dispersed through the sun’s rays. Ancient Indian scripture such as the Surya Kiran Chikitsa, praise the sun’s ability to heal ailments and the discovery that each colour possesses it’s own specific and unique vibration. Colour therapy, or “Chromotherapy”, is an ancient practise that has, in more recent times, resurfaced and made a noticeable upsurge, as holistic medicine has become increasingly popular. Chromotherapy involves the use of colour and light “to balance energy wherever our bodies are lacking, be it physical, emotional, spiritual or mental.” It is stated that the ancients would build grand halls specifically for colour healing, where light would filter through coloured glass panels onto the individual being treated.

The Vedic religion is an ancient predecessor of modern day Hinduism, and such Vedic texts as the “Brihat Samhita”, discusses the benefits of gemstone therapy, the healing abilities of numerous gems and their specific origins. Gem therapy, like colour therapy, also dates back to historic ages, but can still be applied today to provide treatment to human ailments. As alternative treatments such as crystal healing, is becoming increasingly popular, I will be careful to view the practice from all perspectives. Although people have claimed to experience beneficial effects of the healing powers of gemstones and crystals, there is no actual scientific proof to back this up and could theoretically be a result of the placebo effect. Occasionally believers who want the healing powers of stones to be true, they will only see things that back up this belief, an example of cognitive bias. I will explain in detail the differences between gemstone therapy and colour therapy, and go into depth how colour therapy has scientific evidence showing positive results for aiding neurological disorders.

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It is my aim to get as involved as possible with neurology students, colour therapists, and patients alike. I want my research to be focused mainly on primary research, through observation, participation, workshops, focus groups and to also follow the work of colour psychologists such as Faber Birren, Angela Wright and JD Keehn. I want my dissertation to be aimed at a wider academic audience than jewellers, and would like my research to benefit students both interested in Neurology and Art, to somehow, whether how small, bridge the gap between science and art in some form.

(96 words)


In my dissertation, I plan to have four main sections. I will explore in detail, the history of colour psychology and colour therapy in section one. I will then look at gemstone therapy and gemmology, both ancient and modern. My third section should include how chromology and gemmology can be applied in more detail to aid the treatment of mental and physical health in humans. In my final section, it is my aim to apply what I have learned to my jewellery and metalwork design, and how I can incorporate my knowledge into my discipline and create designs around these ideologies.

(101 words)

Key Words


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Annotated Bibliography

Azeemi, S & Raza, S (2005) A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Scientific Evolution. Oxford University Press.

A useful article describing the evolution of Chromotherapy, including detailed descriptions of the healing characteristics of specific colours. Develops new ideas involving the scientific field of “electromagnetic radiation/energy” and how this can be applied to ancient colour theories.

Amber, R. (1983) Colour Therapy: Healing with Colour. Aurora Press.

Describes how colour effects our environment, including our clothes, food and light “sensitising us to the healing power or the destructive effects of a guided use of colour therapy.” One of the few texts I found that gave a more balanced view on Colour Therapy, highlighting the benefits and disadvantages.

Babbitt, E.D. (1967) Principles of Light and Color: The Classic Study of the Healing. University Books.

Edited by American writer Faber Birren, a text detailing Edwin Babbitt's invention of the chromo lens, a lens made of pure crystal grade of glass, of three different colours, "the blue of a character greatly superior to the mazarine blue in its exclusively soothing and electrical effects; the yellow-orange or amber-colored; and the transparent. In his list of remarkable things about his chromo lens which is hollow, he writes: “When water is placed within and charged by the sunlight the substance becomes medicated with an exquisite principle which is more gentle, enduring and far reaching in its effect than ordinary drugs.” A dose would consist of from one or two teaspoonfuls to as many tablespoonfuls as needed. He installed colored glass windows in his offices and had patients take colored sunbaths."

Bakhru, K. (2007) History of Colour Therapy. [online]
Available at:
[accessed 26 November 2010]

Provides detailed history into Colour Therapy, and its revival in the 20th century. Gives information about beliefs from the Middle Ages, and India’s enthusiasm towards colour therapy.

Bernard, G (2002) Gems: The World’s Greatest Treasures and their Stories. Prestel.

Chapter “The Garden of Health” was most interesting, describing mostly the colour Red, hematites and bloodstones and how in the 1400s these were believed to prevent nosebleeds, and were associated with the circulatory system as when polished, they turn water red. Short extract.

Birren, F. (1984) Color & Human Response: Aspects of Light and Color Bearing on the Reactions of Living Things and the Welfare of Human Beings. Wiley.

By far the most useful and relevant text I have come across, providing detailed information on each colour and its associations with specific neurological disorders. Shows the link between colours and their effects on the human brain. Easily to comprehend, illustrated, detailed.

Birren, F. (1979) Color Psychology and Color Therapy: a Factual study of the Influence of color on Human Life. Kessinger Publishing Co.

Again, another useful text from Birren. Involved more in how humans react to different colours physiologically, psychologically and visually, rather than how to aid human ailments. Factual and hypothetical, also discusses how to use colour in your day to day life, at work, home, in schools, to their most advantageous effects.

Cappa, S.F. (2001) Cognitive Neurology: An Introduction. Imperial College Press

A look into the developing Cognitive Neurology, a branch of both psychology and neuroscience, overlapping disciplines such as physiological psychology, cognitive psychology and neuropsychology.

Colour Yourself Healthy (2010)
Available at:
[accessed 10 March 2011]

Site states that with a combination of coloured waters taken at different times of day over a few months, that patients suffering from schizophrenia were found to have reduced symptoms. Not scientifically proven, but touches on the holistic side of treatment.

Dickey, C.C, Frumin, M, McCarley R.W, Shenton, M.E. (2001) A Review of MRI findings in Schizophrenia. Clinical Neuroscience Division, Laboratory of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Brockton, MA 02301, USA.
Available at:
[accessed 10 March 2011]

A journal describing how the neuropathology of schizophrenia remains unknown. An indepth look into the effect of schizophrenia on the brain, lists a number of statistical results, and has references to a number of important scientists in relation to our developing understanding of schizophrenia.

Dundee Association for Mental Health
Available at:
[accessed 5 March 2011]

A voluntary organisation situated in Dundee, dealing with those suffering from mental health issues, including dementia, depression, schizophrenia etc. Practices colour therapy.

Giorgio, L. (2001) Colour therapy - Chromotherapy [online]
Available at:
[accessed 9 March 2011]

A look into the effects of colour on the body and soul, giving an in-depth description of each colour and its meanings/effects. For example, Leonardo da Vinci once stated that you can increase the power of meditation ten-fold if you practise under purple light, and that white light raises the vibration of one's consciousness and the body.

Herrington, R.N. (1969) Current Problems in Neuropsychiatry. Schizphrenia, Epilepsy, the Temporal Lobe. Headley Brothers Ltd.
Avalailable at:;jsessionid=4C24D25E36E77AC707029ECD16BF48AD.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=5206412
[accessed 10 March 2011]

Hirsch, S.R. and Weinberger, D.R (2003) Schizophrenia. Wiley-Blackwell.

A text detailing the causes, symptoms and affects of schizophrenia. Describes physical and psychological/behavioural/social treatments. Some chapters include the psychoanalytical therapies, and the roles of families of schizophrenics. Helpful in providing a greater understanding of the illness before I can begin to understand how colour affects it.

Keehn, J.D. (2006) A Factual Study of Tests of Color-Form Attitudes. Published online.
Available at:
[accessed 10 March 2011]

An assessment of personality based on ones reaction to colour or form. Specific tests include that from the work of Kulpe, Lindberg, and pays particular attention to the Rorchach Text by Vernon.

Keehn, J.D and Sabbagh, A. (1956) Colour-Form Response as a Function of Mental Disorder. American University of Beirut.
Available at:
[accessed 10 March 2011]

Abstract explains that schizophrenics and other abnormal groups respond to colour in a more significant way than those unaffected by neurological disorders. An expermient carried out using a series of colour-form tests.

Koenig, H G. (1998) Handbook of Religion and Mental Health. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Describes how religion relates to mental health and how it can influence care for mental health patients. Not fully relevant, but with regards to my research into Hinduism and their appreciation of colour and the benefits it provides, it gave me an insight into how religion can seriously alter/affect the different treatments of neurological disorders.

Life Positive (1999) Colour Therapy: Colour Conscious. [online]
Available at:
[accessed 1 December 2010]

Short article about the ancient practise of colour therapy and its connection to the Sun. Talks about the ancient Indian scripture; Surya Kiran Chikitsa, and how it speaks of the healing powers of the sun. Also describes the healing rooms in ancient Egypt, where the sun “dispersed the seven colours of the rainbow.”

Lilly, S. (2010) The Practical book of Colour Therapy. Southwater.

Explores how our lives are influenced by colour and that through a greater understanding of which colours stimulate us personally, we can use them to “promote balance and wellbeing”. Central themes include; Using colour as a healing tool, and how colour can be manipulated to improve meditation and vizualisation.

Marneros, A. and Pillmann, F. (2009) Acute and Transient Psychoses. Cambridge University Press.

A comprehensive overview of the biology, clinical features and long-term outcome of brief and acute psychoses. A review on the world literature on the topic.

Saksena, R. (2010) Health Seminars and Health Talks [online videos]
Available at:
[accessed 1 December 2010]

Video seminars conducted by Dr R. K. Saksena, about Colour Therapy for Chronic Illnesses. He discusses Surya Kiran Chikitsa, (mentioned above) on a number of human ailments, both physical and mental including insomnia, depression, asthma, fatigue, polio etc.

Shah, A. (2002) Colour Therapy. [online]
Available at:
[accessed 26 November 2010]

A website created by the Anwar Shah Trust got Cerebral Palsy and Paralysis. Provides diagrams relating to colour therapy, including a colour wheel annotating the relationship between colour and personality.

Szadmin (2005) MRI for early diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Available at:
[accessed on 9 March 2011]

A blog-like post detailing the use of MRI scans in detecting schizophrenia and how using MRI scans on patients with a family history of schizophrenia could provide earlier diagnosis and therefore more successful treatment.

The Ayurveda Encyclopedia (1999) Gem Therapy: Healing Powers. [online]
Available at:
[accessed 1 December 2010]

Gives a detailed list of the different effects of various gems, and mentions the “ancient Vedic texts”, which once I had researched further, discovered that the Vedic religion is an ancient predecessor of modern day Hinduism. Would like to explore this in more depth.

Viagrande, C. (2010) Physical evidence of Mental Illness. Published online.
Available at:
[accessed 10 March 2011]

MRI scan images of patients suffering from schizophrenia. Has comparison images of twins, one affected by schizophrenia and one unaffected showing the loss in brain tissue in affected twin.

Wills, P. (1993) Colour Therapy: The Use of Colour for Health and Healing (Health Essentials) Element Books.

Describes the best way to use colour in your surroundings, in your clothes and how to improve your health. Basic text, but has some quotes that may be useful.

Wood, B. (1984) The Healing Power of Colour. The Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

A book describing how colour can be used to calm the disturbed, heal diseased tissues, and how none of us can be indifferent to colour, as it affects us all in one way or another.

(27 sources)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Personality Test

The personality Vark's test gave four learning styles, concluded after answering a series of questions. Out of Activist, Reflector, Theorist or Pragmatist, my results were as follows:

Activist : Weak
Reflector : Very Strong
Theorist : Low
Pragmatist : Low

I wasn't overly surprised at my results, as I feel I do spend the majority of my projects focused on researching my topic, I'm not one to jump into new briefs, working methodically and grasping the background of my topic before moving forward has been working for me so far, however I would like to practise an Activist's approach more in my work.

When we met with our group to discuss our outcomes, although we hadn't had a chance to get to know each other yet, I had guessed a few of the outcomes correctly, and it was helpful in showing us who would be most appropriate for each aspect of the enterprise project.