What color is fear?

I have this thing.

After half a lifetime of thinking it was either a special power possessed by only a select few, or a strange sensory birth defect that generally didn’t interfere with my life, I discovered it was a thing.

With a name.

Synesthesia.

I see letters, and words, in color.

Not all words, and not all the time — only particular words and only really when I pay attention to it.

Months of the year, for instance, each appear as a particular color when I visualize them in my mind. So detailed, in fact, that June and July are both red, but different shades.

All the letters of the English alphabet are colored, too, but strangely, not the Hebrew alphabet. Some letters are (Aleph is white like “A”), and some aren’t. If I were a neurologist, I’d probably study that, but I’m not. I’m just the handicapped super hero with a colorful dictionary in her mind.

What’s particularly interesting to me, though, is how words can change color when they are paired with another.

Prickly is white. But pear is yellow. Prickly pear is white. Why?

I have no idea.

Home is red. But go is green. Go home is “green.” Does my mind automatically prefer the verb? Does the adjective always dominate?

Fear is a word whose color I’d like to change.

If  I could somehow convert fear from that rusty-tinted brown orange to a vibrant hot pink with purple polka dots, I somehow believe that my perception of fear might change, too.

Can you really be terrified of a word that is hot pink with purple polka dots?

What if, indeed, the secret power of synesthesia is the ability to use color to change the way you perceive ?

Change the color of a word in order to manipulate your world?

Into a place that’s less scary?

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17 thoughts on “What color is fear?

  1. I believe you are onto something here, Jen! Change the face, or color, of fear and you bring awareness to the fact that it has no power over you. I’ve always been a very visual/feeling chick myself, and love the image of the “handicapped superhero with a colorful dictionary in her mind.” That’s good stuff!

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    • It’s like the transitive property of equality (the only property I vaguely remember from high school pre-calc). The emotion + the reaction = the word. The word encapsulates the experience. If I can change the word, perhaps I can also ship my reaction to it, which would change the equation completely. Right?

      Maybe not. Calculus is not my strength.

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      • To the things I am most afraid of — my reactions usually exceed the required reactions. Adrenaline overdrive. Things like my kids’ food allergies, for instance. I get too afraid before the fear is warranted.

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      • It sounds like you’re goal is to foster a new RESPONSE-ability to life situations that evoke the color of fear in your world. While it’s true that fear warns us about potential threats, I feel it is also true that fear has morphed (or we have morphed it) into a debilitating disease that renders us unable to think outside the box and choose a more life affirming response to the situations life offers. I applaud your awareness and love the thoughtful communication your sharing has encouraged.

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  2. Pingback: STUCK on FEAR | Stuck on a Branch

  3. My mother (z”l) and my son have synesthesia…I do but to a lesser extent. We always use to laugh at mom’s special powers. Shortly before she passed we learned there was a name for it and we all loved that. She would have (as I do) loved the idea of changing the color of a word to deal with it in a better way.

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  4. Gosh that is fascinating! I hadn’t come across this before but completely get where you are coming from. Potentially this could be very powerful couldn’t it?

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  5. Pingback: One compulsion leads to another | and yadda yadda yadda...i made aliyah

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