A Therapeutic Color for 2024

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The color of the year is…

peach

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PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

Each year, Pantone picks a color of the year. For 2024, it is Peach Fuzz, described as a light shade of pink which they hope feels “gentle, heartfelt, and cozy.” As such, it is designed to elicit a sense of caring, community, and compassion.

It is certainly different than the pink of the popular “Barbie” movie from last year, nor is the world particularly peachy or fuzzy now. Some in the design world had apparently hoped for a green color of hope and regrowth, especially in connection to climate change. Yet, given the conflicts in the world and the upcoming Presidential election in the United States, the new color of the year could have a desired calming influence on the global stress, as discussed in the New York Times December 7th article, “Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2024 is Peach Fuzz.”1

When I heard of the color, in all its evocative naming, it reminded me of our societal debates on how best to describe skin color. A few years back, an 8-year-old girl, Bellen Woodard, wondered why a peach-colored crayon was said to be the “skin-colored crayon” when her skin was much darker. In 2019, she then produced a whole set of crayons depicting different hues of skin color. Along the way, she was recognized by Time magazine. More recently, she completed the book More Than Peach about the colors and what readers might want to do to change the world.

In our society’s descriptions of skin shades, in using terms like Black and White, we are clearly using a psychological description, perhaps of opposition. It certainly is not physically realistic or unifying. Nor are variations of peach.

Colors clearly have some emotional and symbolic effects on individuals. Designers choose colors carefully for houses, offices, and hospitals. Artists and marketers take color into account. Though there are cultural and age differences, there are some generalities such as:

  • Colors in the red spectrum are thought to feel warmer
  • Colors in the blue spectrum are thought to feel cooler

Ancient cultures practiced chromotherapy, and the related colorology is used today, such as red for stimulation of the body and mind, but blue to soothe.2

Though not often thought about in psychiatry, perhaps we could use and benefit from some of that peach fuzz!

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

References

1. The Styles Desk. Pantone’s color of the year for 2024 is peach fuzz. The New York Times. December 7, 2023. Accessed December 15, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/07/style/pantone-2024-color-of-the-year.html

2. Azeemi STY, Rafiq HM, Ismail I, et al. The mechanistic basis of chromotherapy: current knowledge and future perspectives. Complement Ther Med. 2019;46:217-222.

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