Review HowTo Color Anxieties, Compensations And Conflicts Chapt 5

phoneforwomen-1-origMoodColor Secrets  Color Test  Chapt 1  Chapt 2  Chapt 3  Chapt 4  Chapt 5  Chapt 6  Chapt 7  Chapt 8

iPhone App




It has already been mentioned that the four basic color srepresent basic psychological needs; they should therefore, in a normal test-protocol, occur at the commencement of the row, or at least within the first five places. When they do not, this is an indication of the presence of some physiological or psychological deficiency which can be considered the more serious the further back in the row the basic color is placed.

If a basic color is rejected by being placed further back in the 8-color sequence than the 5th position, then that particular basic need is remaining unsatisfied because the circumstances are unfavorable. Such an unsatisfied basic need is a “stress-source” giving rise to a sense of deprivation and thus leading to anxiety. The stress-source of a rejected basic color therefore shows an anxiety-laden source of psychic or functional disturbance.

Because of this, when one of the basic colors, blue, green, red or yellow, is found in the last three positions of the row (6th, 7th or 8th positions) it is regarded as a rejection and given the indicator — (minus). Any color occurring later in the row must also be marked —, so that if a basic color occurs in 6th place, then the colors in 7th and 8th places are both marked — and must also be regarded as rejections producing a degree of anxiety. All rejections representing sources of anxiety are additionally marked by placing the letter “A” below the minus sign, to draw attention to the fact that anxiety resulting from a stress-source is indicated by the test-protocol.

As an example, let us suppose that red (j) appears in 6th pon’rim. *0U*T,”*d by brown (6) in ?lh position and
black (77ir] 8th position. HZ? hcown and ,hMetwo positions are quite normal a* a general ruie, w. fac*the red is a bask color and appears as far back as the6th position, then it is a stms tourte indicating the pres-ence of anxiety; the brown and black which follow itmust therefore also be regarded as anxiety-laden. Thisis made evident by marking the last three positions asfollows:
3 6 7


Often the unsatisfied need and the resulting anxiety become suppressed as emotionally unple’sant so that theyare no longer consciously recognized, and often appear as only a vague disquiet. Regardless of the extent to which it may come to conscious awareness, such a stress-source compels a type of compensator behavior, which is indicated in the test by the color chosen in the 1st position.

This position, the essential method, must always be regarded as compensatory if a basic color is rejected. To draw attention to this fact, the letter “C” must be written below the figure in the 1st position whenever an”A” occurs at the end of the row.

The existence of such a stress-source and the anxiety to which it gives rise always lead to, and express themselves in a compensatory mode of behavior which is compulsive, excessive, permitting of no choice, and occurring as a generalized tendency. Since a compensation of this sort is by its very nature a substitute activity, it seldom leads to any real satisfaction, resulting instead in inappropriate or excessive activity, in pronounced bias and prejudice, in perfectionism and a tendency to moralize to others, in compulsive dilettantism, in speculative argumentation, or in some other form of substitute satisfaction.

When anxieties ~” . …..bcress-sources occur, the 1st position may be occupied by one or another of the four basic colors. In this case, although a compensation is needed for the stress-source, the actual compensation afforded by a basic color is considered to be more or less”normal,” though it must be remembered that any compensatory substitute implies a departure from optimum behavior since its obsessive character impairs freedom to evaluate existing conditions and act appropriately; rationality has become subordinated to a compulsion to act in a particular way.

Exaggerated Compensations

Of the four auxiliary colors, it has already been said that preference for the so-called “achromatic” colors brown, grey or black implies a negative attitude to life. If any of these three colors occur within the first three places of the 8-color sequence, then not only is compensation present, but the type of compensation can no longer be considered as “normal,” implying instead aspecial degree of exaggerated behavior. These colors, and any which precede them in the row, must all be marked + and subscribed with the letter “C.”

If, for example, grey (o) stands in 3rd place and therefore qualifies for a + sign and for a “C,” then the two preceding colors must also be marked + and “C.” Thus:

3 4 0

+ + + r r r

Sometimes it will occur that grey, brown or black appears in one of the first three places without a basic color appearing in positions 6, 7 or 8. When this happens, the last color in the row (in 8th position) must be regarded as an anxiety, even when that may be the usual place for that particular color to occur. In other words, when there is an anxiety, there must be a compensation; when there is a compensation, there must be an anxiety.

Intensity ot the Anxiety and Compensation

The intensity of existing psychological or physiological deficits giving rise to anxiety is considered to be relatively mild when a basic color is in the 6th position and relatively serious when in the 8th position. This permits the adoption of a simple rule of thumb method of measuring this intensity, by allotting exclamation marks (!) to the stress-source in accordance with the following rules:

1) Where a basic color occurs in 6th position—allot 1 !
2) Where a basic color occurs in 7th position—allot 2 !!
3) Where a basic color occurs in 8th position—allot 3 !!!

A similar method is adopted for measuring the intensity of the compulsion associated with compensations, as follows:

1) Where a basic color or violet occurs as a compensation—no allotment.
2) Where grey, brown or black occurs in 3rd place—allot 1 !
3) Where grey, brown or black occurs in and place—allot 2 !!
4) Where grey, brown or black occurs in 1st place—allot 3 !!!

After a test-protocol has been grouped and marked in the usual way, the letters “C” and “A” should be subscribed where appropriate, and (!)s allotted in accordance with these rules.


The above example is of an extreme case, showing themaximum possible number of exclamation marks (!) allotted to the second selection. This indicates the existence of many anxieties for which compensation is attempted by intense and irrational behavior. Since the second selection is more valid for interpretation than the first selection, a comparison of the two provides a ready indication of how a situation may be expected to develop.

Where the second selection shows fewer allotted (!)s than the first selection, then the general prognosis can be considered favorable. Where the reverse is the case, then the prognosis is less favorable.

A ready “rule-of-thumb” guide is thus provided for forecasting an individual’s response to improved conditions imposing less stress, or to a course of psychotherapy. When the number of (!)s allotted to the second selection is greater than for the first, then even improved conditions or therapy may resolve problems very slowly or not at all.

Where some or all of the anxieties and compensations appearing in the first selection disappear in the second, then the prognosis is better, the trouble is less deep-seated and therefore yields more readily to remedial treatment or to a change in environmental conditions. In the last example, the prognosis is not favorable.

After the Interpretation Tables, figures will be found showing the number of (!)s allotted, from zero to the maximum of twelve among 1,000 adult “normal” men and women. These figures are based on British norms.

Summary of Rules for Marking Anxieties and Compensations

a) The 8th position of the row always represents a repressed need (which may, or may not, constitute an”anxiety”) and therefore always bears the symbol —(minus).

b) If a basic color (1, 3, 3 or 4) occurs in 6th, 7th or 8th positions, this together with any following colors, represents an “anxiety” providing the motive for a “compensation.” Each such color should be marked —, and the letter “A” subscribed. They reveal the basis or bases of functional or psychic disturbance (stress-sources).

c) When colors with an “A” occur, at least the color in the 1st position should be regarded as a “compensation” and subscribed with the letter “C.” The 1st-position color is always marked with the symbol + (plus).

d) If any of the colors o, 6 or 7 occurs in positions 1, 2 or 3, this and any preceding colors represent compensations and they should all be marked +, the letter “C” being written below them.

e) If colors with a “C” occur, at least the color in the 8th position must be regarded as an “anxiety” and subscribed with the letter “A.”

f) The intensity of the “anxiety” or of the “compensation” is marked by the allocation of exclamation marks (!) as follows:

If a basic color occurs in 6th position, 1 !; in 7th position, 3 !!!; in 8th position, 3 !!!
If any of the colors o, 6 or 7 occurs in 3rd position, 1 !; in and position, 2 !!; in 1st position, 3 !!!

The “Actual Problem”

The existence of an unsatisfied basic need together with the compensation which is the attempt to solve it reveal the type of conflict which is involved. Thus, anxiety plus compensation discloses the “actual problem.” It is this actual problem or conflict which can provide an entrance point for any psychological or medical therapy, should such be indicated.

There are few of us indeed who go through life with the desirelessness of a Buddhist monk, and therefore most of us want something and wish to avoid something else. This in itself introduces some stress into the task of living, but is quite a normal thing and does not qualify as a “problem” or as a “conflict.” It merely provides some tension for us to contend with.

What we want is, by definition, indicated in the Color Test by the color (s) in the first or first two positions; what we wish to avoid is, also by definition, shown by the color in the last position. Combining these two different functions (the 4- function and the — function) provides us im-mediately with the method adopted to deal with a stress-source (whether normal, or exaggerated).

A fifth Table, setting out this H–function, has been included in the Interpretation Tables to show what the “actual problem” is for every possible combination. “Everybody knows” what a problem is! One’s wife or one’s husband is a problem, work is a problem, one’s mother-in-law is a problem, juvenile delinquency and the rising crime-rate are problems. But, in actual fact, none of these things is a problem at all! A problem is never a one-sided affair; to be a problem it must include a would-be solver. There must be a side which is saying “how can I solve or deal with” the problem? Thus, one’s mother-in-law cannot herself be a problem, the problem must include both mother-in-law and the person who is trying to discover how to live with her, the operative word for a problem being “How?”

The “actual problem” as discovered from the Color Test obeys this rule. The rejected color(s) and the anxieties shown by the test indicate the stress-source which the person does not wish to have to tolerate. Whether or not it is suppressed below the level of consciousness, there still remains a disquiet which compels the attempt to deal with it in some compensating manner.

The “How?” of this attempt is indicated by the most favored color or group. This combination of stress-source and how to deal with the unease to which it gives rise, together makes up the problem itself. The fact that it is an attempt to solve, and not an actual solution, accounts for the continued existence of the problem and therefore, for the continued effort to solve it by the method adopted.

The interpretations given in Table V show the components of the “actual problem”—the stress-source itself and the method adopted in the attempt to solve it. In a simple and straightforward test this will involve only the colors in the 1st and 8th positions, but where there are anxieties and compensations then there may be several such “actual problems” to consider.

In a second example, there are three colors marked as compensations and three marked as anxieties, so that we are faced with a great many “actual problems” (in this case, nine). Some of these will naturally be greater and of more significance than others, but all of them will have some application.

The most significant “actual problem” will be that comprising the color in 1st place and the color in 8th position—in this case, +7 — 3. The least significant “actual problem” will be that comprising the compensation furthest from the 1st place and the anxiety furthest from the lastplace—in this case, +6 — 2.

It is desirable to have some sort of rule for the assigning of priorities when faced with such a formidable array of”actual problems,” in order that their relative magnitude can be appreciated. Since an “anxiety” has slightly greater significance than a “compensation,” the order of proceed-ing is:

Compensation Anxiety

1st position 8th position +7 — 3 Most significant
1st position 7th position +7—4
and position 8th position + 0 — 3
and position 7th position +0 —4
1st position 6th position +7 — 3
and position 6th position +0 —a
3rd position 8th position +6 — 3
3rd position 7th position +6 — 4
3rd position 6th position +6 — 3 Least significant

In the average test-protocol it will rarely be necessary to look up more than four such “actual problems.” Indeed, it might be said that it is never necessary even when there are nine, as in the above example, since the major problems will so swamp the others as to make them of rela-tively little importance in comparison. However, if a test indicating so seriously negative an attitude should be encountered, then the priorities which should be assigned to the “actual problems” are as set out above.


Occasionally a test-protocol will be found in which a color stands in the 1st or 2nd position in one selection of eight colors and in the 8th or 7th place in the others election. Such a protocol displays a degree of ambivalence—double value—toward the characteristics of that color.

An example

In the test-protocol above, the color red (+3) appears in 1st place in the first selection and in 8th place in the second selection. This indicates a degree of ambivalence in red—that the characteristics which red signifies are at times favored and at times rejected.

Combining red in 1st position (+ 3) with red in 8th position (— 3), we get + J — 3, and, since they do occasionally occur, these ambivalences are included in the + —Function Table. The group +3 — 3 is shown there as meaning: “Denotes an ambivalent attitude varying between the desire to have his own way and the need to be left in peace.”

In the Luscher 8-Color Test, these ambivalences are of little significance, because test procedure has been modified to make it more simple as compared with the Full Test. However, the sudden retreat or advance of a color from first to second selection should not be entirely ignored.

Bearing in mind that the second selection is always the more valid and important of the two, the above example tells us that though the individual may start off with the desire to “have his own way,” this rapidly disintegrates into a “peace at any price” attitude. Red vitality becomes depleted quickly under only mild pressure. In this case, even the concentration involved in making the selections is sufficient to bring about this depletion.

The Rejected or Suppressed Characteristic

Of the eight positions in which the colors can be placed, the position conveying most information about the individual is the final or 8th position. Therefore, the group which is the most informative is the — (minus) group. It is therefore possible to tell a great deal about a person merely from knowledge of the color, or pair of colors, he likes least. And, for this reason. Table IV (The — Function) is by far the most comprehensive of the various tables and has been compiled in a slightly different fashion from the other four.

Each single color, and each possible pair of colors, is given two interpretations. The first of these is the “Physiological interpretation” and indicates the stress-source, which may be normal, mild, serious or very serious. A normal stress-source is one which is neither classed as an”anxiety,” nor accompanied in the Table by one, two or three asterisks.

For example, brown and black in 7th and 8th positions represent a normal stress-source; — 6 — 7 implies “a desire to control one’s own destiny” and so activity is geared in such a way as to effect this. Such behavior implies no aberration. A mild stress-source is one in which a “normal” color or group has become classed as an “anxiety.” This is not because of a rejected basic color, but because grey, brown or black have occurred towards the beginning of the row. Serious and very serious stress-sources are those accompanied in the Table by one or more asterisks.

The second interpretation given in the Table is the”Psychological interpretation” and describes the characteristics and behavior implied by the rejection of that particular color or group. The detail given in this section is sometimes so extensive that, in every case, an “In brief” section has been added in an attempt to summarize the main feature of the group.

“Emotional” Personalities

In an average test-protocol two, three or even four colors will be found marked with the equals sign (=) of “indifference.” That is to say that the characteristics which these colors represent are not currently in operation, but are held in reserve. As a result, a part—sometimes a large part—of the emotional spectrum is in abeyance, not manifesting itself readily unless there is a decided change in the circumstances.

In other words, that part of the emotionals pectrum will not be called into play unless something occurs which is important enough to make it necessary. Such a person will be emotionally stable and not likely to display aspects of “indifferent” emotions without due cause.

Anxiety (A) and Compensation (C) however, “dramatize” the emotions. Of the eight colors available, a maximum of three can occur as + Compensations and three as — Anxieties, leaving only two colors for the X function of actual situation or behavior. In such a case, there are no “indifferent” colors at all. No part of the emotional spectrum is in abeyance; everything is involved in one way or another.

Therefore, emotions are liable to manifest themselves very readily. Moment-to-moment behavior is far less predictable and tends to be less logical. Thus,where conflict has arisen from anxiety and compensation,”emotional” behavior is far more easily aroused by comparatively minor stimuli.

Contlict between Objective and Behavior

In analyzing a test-protocol, consideration should begiven to the desired objective (the + positions) and the actual situation or behavior (the X positions) to see whether any conflict exists between them.

For example, in the protocol

1 2 3 4 5 0 67

+ + X X = = – –

there are all the surface indications of complete normality. The four basic colors occur at the beginning of the test, nothing is subscribed A or C, while the +, X, =, —, and
H–groups, when looked up in the Interpretation Tables, have no asterisks alongside them.

What, if anything, iswrong?

The group 1 3 (blue/green), which in this case is the modus operandi and the desired objective, is exclusively concentric and subjectively concerned. The essential method is tranquillity (1) and the goal itself is defensive self-possession (3). Yet the existing situation is being handled by ex-centric outgoingness and is so contrary to what is desired that conflict may well arise.

In this particular case (it is an actual test) conflict was manifest, and the woman in question was turning to psychotherapy. She was in fact, forcing herself to be happy, to follow all the latest fashions, to have her hair done twice a week, to go dancing, and to entertain guests because she felt this was necessary to keep her husband’s interest. She did not want to do any of these things, and as it later turned out, did not need to. Her husband drew a deep sigh of relief when this conflict was finally resolved!

Instability of the Autonomic Nervous System

A type of disturbance of clinical interest to the physician concerns the stability or instability of the autonomic nervous system. Indications of instability frequently appear in the Color Test long before its pathological effects are normally evident. The stable self-regulating mechanism
of the autonomic nervous system under the control of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches—which work sometimes together and sometimes in opposition to each other—normally operates within limits which it cannot exceed without danger.

Biological regulation either occurs imperceptibly or by rapidly swinging back into line some physiological function which is approaching too close to its safety limit. When this self-regulation occurs as it should the system is considered stable.

The autonomic nervous system is concerned with the regulation of body functions which are not normally under conscious control—digestive processes, the smooth musculature, secretions of various glands and organs, the heart and lungs, peristalsis of the alimentary tract, genitalia, and so forth. Instability in this system can therefore have a multiplicity of effects, often being accompanied by various organic troubles which frequently seem to be quite minor and which may move around the body from one area to another.

Such instability can develop into serious malfunctioning unless something is done about it. The Color Test provides a means of diagnosing the presence of self-regulating instability in its very early stages, allowing prompt remedial action to be taken in time to prevent the development of serious pathological conditions.

From what was said previously concerning the anabolic and catabolic effects of light and dark, we saw that there was a relationship between the somatic needs of the body and the choice of light or dark colors. In the test, the two brightest colors are the yellow (4) and then red (3); the two darkest are the black (7) and then blue.

Therefore, if the test-protocol shows the group 3 4 (or 4 3) at or near one end of the row, with the group 1 7 (or 7 1) at or near the other, then it can be assumed that self-regulating instability is present. Where the group 3 4 or 4 3 is at the beginning and the group 1 7 or 7 1 toward the rear, this instability, though present, has not necessarily reached the stage of being serious. Where the reverse is the case, with the dark colors at the beginning and the bright at the end, instability has been present for a considerable time and may have led to pathological deteriora-tion.

Work and Exhaustibility

Three of the four basic colors are directly concerned, amongst other things, with ability to maintain optimum effectiveness over periods of time. These three are: green (2), red (3) and yellow (4), and the group 2 3 4 (or any combination of these three colors in juxtaposition) is called the “work group.” Blue (1), as a passive and tranquil color, is not associated with work but with peace and contentment.

The parts played by the three colors of the work-group in their capacity of originating and maintaining effective Operation are as follows:

Green provides the “elasticity of will” which allows one to persist despite opposition or difficulties, because by persisting one can accomplish the task and thus enhance one’s own self-esteem.

Red provides the “force of will” that desires action and effectiveness, the satisfaction that comes from having molded something to suit one-self.

Yellow provides the “spontaneous” enjoyment of action, the ability to project oneself and the expectancy which looks forward to the out-come of the job—and even beyond it to the new and interesting jobs which may be awaiting the completion of the present one.

Ideally then, this work-group should stand together in the test and should occur at or towards the beginning of the row. When they are together and towards the front, then it is safe to say that work will be done well and will be well integrated, providing it is the sort of work that the person wants to do. Assuming that it is, long periods of work and the occurrence of difficulties and problems in carrying it through will have little effect; they will be tackled and overcome until the task is satisfactorily completed.

The personal priorities with which an individual may approach a task will be indicated in the test by the color of the workgroup which he puts first. If it is green, then his purpose is to increase his self-esteem and his stature in the eyes of others; if red, it is his desire to feel that he has won a battle over something which he decided to tackle; if yellow, then it is because he enjoys projecting himself into something in which he can be interested.

Unfortunately, the work-group very frequently does not stand together as an integrated whole Sometimes two of the three colors are together while the third is separated. Less frequently, all three of the colors are widely separated. In this latter case the “work prognosis” is not very good for the type of work in which the individual is engaged, but it is necessary to examine both first and second selections to see in what way the work-group has changed in the short period which elapsed between them.

For example:

II Total Is m a
+ + X X = = =
3 4 3 5 7
3 0 4 5 (fiiTa 7+ + X X = =
II 1 II Total !s = 5

In this case, several things are noticeable. Firstly, the work-group in the first selection is intact and right at the beginning, while in the second selection it has disintegrated. Secondly, the group 3 4 stands at the beginning of the first selection while the group 1 7 stands at the end, implying instability of the self-regulating nervous system. Thirdly, the second selection has five exclamation marks (!), compared with only two in the first selection, indicating that even minor stresses or concentration give rise to conflict.

Fourthly, the desire for action and effectiveness (red) is compensatory in both selections and therefore not necessarily appropriate to a particular task. Finally, thegreen tenacity and persistence (2) falls right away from 3rd to 7th place where it actually becomes a stress-source leading to anxiety.

Summing up, this test shows an individual whose system is out of balance and who therefore loses his ability to persist under even minor stresses, with rapid exhaustion caused by inner tension (the rejected green).

Again, in the following example:

Ml I Total Is = 4
+ X_X = =_ =
+ X~*X = = =
II! I Total !s = 4

We have the work-group together in both 1st and and selections, but it lies in the “indifferent” area in both. There is conflict and anxiety, but in such a case as this, it could well be the result of his present situation or type of occupation, which evidently allow no scope for his capabilities.

His ability to work is in abeyance because the circumstances are inappropriate; given different circumstances or more suitable work it is probable that the work-group would surge to the front and the present conflict disappear altogether. This is not a case of exhaustibility.

Exhaustibility makes itself apparent in the test by a deterioration of the unity of the work-group from first to second selection, and particularly by a pronounced movement towards the rear of one or more of the three work-group colors, especially the red and the green. Where the green recedes, it is persistence which falters, the mental tenacity to continue becoming readily exhausted; when the red recedes the exhaustion is likely to be more physical and indicates energy depletion.

Recession of yellow implies a falling off in satisfaction or pleasure in the task—a sort of psychic exhaustion, but since it is less tangible and serious in its effects, it has less significance than either green or red.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

So that we know you\'re not a spammer *