Why Does It Happen
Another 2017 study suggests that trypophobia is an evolutionary response to alert a person to the presence of parasites or other infectious diseases.
The researchers explain that based on their findings, those affected by trypophobia may have the perception that these cluster images are cues of ectoparasites and skin-transmitted pathogens .
A Chinese study evaluated whether symptoms of trypophobia in preschool children and their discomfort was based on the features of the visual stimuli specifically, or as a subconscious fear of venomous animals.
While researchers note that children did experience discomfort when presented with some trypophobic stimuli, they theorize that their discomfort was not related to subconscious association with venomous animals but was, in fact, due to the characteristics of the cluster pattern itself.
While there is no treatment specific to trypophobia, there are some treatments available for phobias in general with varied success rates. Treatments may consist of self-help treatments, therapy, and medications.
What Is Trypophobia Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
It started when Maria Armstrong was 4, during playtime in the garden at her home. Some leaves of the ferns around her became upturned, exposing her to rows and rows of the round brown spore cases underneath. In an instant, a feeling of helplessness and fear set her heart racing and her stomach churning, a feeling that became seared in her mind. In that moment, Maria became a trypophobe: someone with;an irrational reaction to the sight of clusters of small holes, circles, or bumps.
Over the years, anytime she saw similar groupings of circles, or even images of cells displayed during a biology class, she would feel a sickening discomfort. If I am unexpectedly triggered, it might take me days to recover, says Armstrong, now a sign language interpreter in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Because trypophobia can produce a range of symptoms with varying degrees of intensity, from mild aversion to an immediate, intense feeling of disgust, fear, or even a full-blown;panic attack, its likely a natural and widely shared phenomenon that most people can experience to some degree, says;Renzo Lanfranco, a PhD student in psychology and human cognitive neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh who has researched trypophobia.
Is There A Phobia Of Frogs
Is there a phobia of frogs? Ranidaphobia is the fear of frogs and toads. It gets its name from Ranidae, which is the scientific name for one of the largest families of frogs. Ranidaphobia is a specific phobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder.
What is Megalophobia?;If the thought of or encounter with a large building, vehicle, or other object causes intense anxiety and fear, you may have megalophobia. Also known as a fear of large objects, this condition is marked by significant nervousness that is so severe, you take great measures to avoid your triggers.
What causes Panophobia?;Heres what is known about the causes and risk factors involved: Family history plays an important role. Certain genes passed on to you by your parents can make it more likely that youll develop an anxiety disorder or phobia. Females experience anxiety disorders in higher numbers than men.
What is the most common phobia?;Arachnophobia is the most common phobia sometimes even a picture can induce feelings of panic. And lots of people who arent phobic as such still avoid spiders if they can.
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Associations With Dangerous Animals
Another theory suggests that clustered holes share a similar appearance to skin and coat patterns on some venomous animals. People may fear these patterns out of unconscious associations.
There is some research that supports this idea. A 2013 study looked at how people with trypophobia respond to certain stimuli in comparison to those without the condition. When viewing a honeycomb , people who don’t have trypophobia immediately think of things such as honey or bees.
The researchers believe that those with trypophobia non-consciously associated the sight of a honeycomb with dangerous organisms that share the same basic visual characteristics, such as rattlesnakes. While they are not consciously aware of this association, it may be what causes them to feel feelings of disgust or fear.
Tests And Treatments For Trypophobia
Karunakar Rayker/FlickrHoneycombs are another common trypophobic image.
Since trypophobia is not a recognized condition, theres no official diagnosis. The only way to see if you may suffer from this strange condition is to test yourself.
For those hoping to find out if they suffer from trypophobia, there are plenty of images, articles, and videos dedicated to the subject. Its even possible to take tests that measure whether or not you have trypophobia.
Although there are currently no official, recommended medications or other treatments for trypophobia, treatments for other phobias might be useful.
One of the most popular treatments for phobias is a clinical technique called exposure therapy. In this method, sufferers slowly expose themselves to the things that trigger their condition, building up a tolerance to the offending stimuli.
In the case of trypophobia, this could involve imagining trigger images such as a honeycomb, then looking at an image of a honeycomb, then seeing it in real life. The goal of exposure therapy is to reach a point where being exposed to the stimuli no longer causes any symptoms.
Wikimedia CommonsEven something as simple as a sponge can elicit trypophobia.
Another popular way of treating phobias and other mental issues that may help with trypophobia is called cognitive-behavioral therapy . The goal of CBT is to change the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes that lead to problematic behaviors.
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Treatment And Medication Options For Trypophobia
Many people with a mild aversion manage to control their fear and carry out daily activities without incident simply by avoiding triggers and by enlisting understanding friends and family to alert them to potential ones. If your aversion is on the level of phobia, avoidance can make your situation worse. The following are some approaches to treating problematic trypophobia.
Exposure therapy;People who find that trypophobia disrupts their daily routines, reduces their self-esteem, or causes extreme anxiety can turn to the most widely accepted technique for taming phobias, a desensitizing process called exposure therapy.
In progressive steps by yourself or with the help of a therapist, you begin by looking at fairly benign triggering images while using a relaxation technique, such as deep breathing, and reminding yourself that you are not in any danger. You then slowly work up to being able to stare at the images that previously felt most threatening until you realize that nothing bad is happening.
Emotional Freedom Techniques ;If exposure therapy is not successful, or is too terrifying to even try, tapping, aka Emotional Freedom Technique , a mind-body method for;reducing stress;and anxiety, may help reduce or eliminate trypophobia, says;Roberta Temes, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and the author of;.
EFT involves tapping specific acupuncture points on the body with the fingertips while focusing on the phobia and repeating positive affirmations.
Tests To Diagnose Trypophobia Or Fear Of Holes
There are no proper tests for finding out whether the person is suffering from trypophobia or not. Neurological tests can be done to check the brain readings to identify if the person has trypophobia or fear of holes. The trypophobia or fear of holes can also be identified when you notice a certain change in a reaction like a gag reflex in a person at the sudden imagery of clustered holes.
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What Is Fear Of Holes
There is some discussion amongst health professionals regarding whether a fear of holes is indeed a real phobia. It does not often appear in official books of anxiety disorders or phobias. However, as mentioned, I have helped a client with their fear of holes and they completely reduced it. As such, I think its clear that this aversion and anxiety around clusters of holes or bumps is indeed a very real fear or phobia.
Your Brain On Trypophobia
There are two prevailing theories about why looking at clusters of holes can stoke negative feelings, R. Nathan Pipitone, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Florida Gulf Coast University, tells SELF .
The first draws on Wilkinss research suggesting that trypophobic images mimic patterns on poisonous or dangerous animals: think leopard spots or the markings on the highly venomous blue-ringed octopus. The other theorywhich Pipitone says is currently most researchers favoritesays that clusters of holes are visually similar to rashes or lesions caused by parasitic or infectious diseases.
Either way, experts believe trypophobia stems from natural selection. Historically, people with an aversion to these animal markings or signs of disease would typically have been more likely to avoid anything bearing these patterns. This could mean they werent eaten, poisoned, or infected and were thus around to pass on their genes compared with those who didnt know to stay away.
With this in mind, researchers believe that many people experience some degree of discomfort when looking at trypophobia-inciting images. As with any adaptive reaction , most people experience the reaction at normal levels, whereas others may experience it in excess, leading to a phobia, Stella F. Lourenco, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Emory University Department of Psychology, tells SELF.
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What Is Trypophobia Or Fear Of Holes
Trypophobia which is also known as fear of holes is a kind of phobia in which there is an intense and irrational fear of irregular patterns and holes or bumps. The term trypophobia is derived from the Greek word Trypo which means holes and Phobos means fear. The fear arises in some people as soon as they see a cluster of holes like in the lotus seed heads.
Theories About What Causes Trypophobia
Discussed here are some of the available theories concerning what causes trypophobia.
Having Relationship with Hazardous Animals
It was gathered in a scientific theory that crowded together holes share the same look as the coat and skin patterns of various poisonous animals.
Out of unaware associations with these dangerous animals, people may dread these particular patterns, thereby cause trypophobia to occur.
It was believed by the researchers that people having trypophobia unconsciously related a honeycomb sight with unsafe creatures that contribute to similar fundamental visual attributes like the clatter snakes.
This may likely be why they are having feelings of fear or disgust, even though they arent deliberately conscious of this connection.
One of the common and renowned theories gave trypophobia meaning as an evolutionary reaction to those things linked with danger or disease.
For example, trypophobia skin, trypophobia hand, vermin, and some other related communicable conditions may likely be
Diseased skin, vermin, and other communicable conditions may be typified by such bumps or holes.
What this simply means or recommends is that this particular phobia has an evolutionary foundation.
Moreover, it is regular with the propensity for people having trypophobia to feel tremendous revulsion than fear whenever they perceive any trigger thing.
Associating with Transmittable Pathogens
Reacting to Visual Attributes
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Trypophobia
Their reasoning goes like this: Since many of the worlds deadliest animals, including alligators and crocodiles, as well as certain venomous snakes, spiders, and insects, have repeating high-contrast bumps, circular markings, or pits on their skin, our ancient ancestors who were disgusted or scared by those patterns would have had a greater chance of survival in the presence of those dangers. According to this reasoning, these individuals survived to reproduce and passed those traits on to their offspring, who continued to pass it on, and the aversion continues in the gene pool to this day.
Cognition and Emotion,
Complications In Trypophobia Or Fear Of Holes
The fear may develop in the person due to several reasons which may be psychological, cultural or due to some past trauma. The trypophobia or fear of holes may manifest itself under certain hidden fear. Continuous exposure to items that might manifest the fear in the person will lead the person towards the complication of clinical depression or major depressive disorder.
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Symptoms Of Fear Of Holes
This phobia will have quite common anxiety type symptoms.These can include a racing heartbeat, sweating, palpitations, and a generalfeeling of anxiety or light-headedness. Fear of holes will differ from personto person, but can also include a general feeling of anxiety and emotionaldistress, itching, panic, rapid breathing, shaking, even vomiting, or just ageneral aversion or repulsive feeling.
When seeing or thinking about holes or bumps, as is commonwith other phobias, somebody with fear of holes will experience some behaviourchanges as well. In particular, they may wish to avoid situations where they mightsee holes. They may wish to cover up or hide places in the home where holes ordots or clusters of dots may appear.
Some have suggested that there is an evolutionary cause tofear of holes. That its related to seeing things that remind the subconsciousof disease, infections, parasites, or dangerous creatures that may have holesor bumps. As such it represents an early human reaction to such sights. Anothertheory suggests that fear of holes is related to dangerous animals, such asdangerous snakes. There is some research that points in this direction as well.A study carried out in 2013 examined how people with a fear of holes phobiareacted to certain stimuli compared to other people. Subjects in the research wereshown honeycomb, honey bees and other bumpy sights.
Related Conditions And Causes Of Trypophobia
Some conditions that are related to trypophobia include:
From triggers to treatments, this site provides lots of information about trypophobia and related disorders. It even offers a free, two-minute test to help you decide if youre a trypophobe. Beware if you suspect you suffer from this: You;will have to look at images of holes.
The APA is a trusted organization made up of psychiatrists who aim to promote the highest quality of care for people with mental illnesses. We love their;blog list section, which provides links to numerous disorders. Their trypophobia page breaks down some of the latest research on the subject.
With more than 1,800 professional mental health members, the ADAA is a top source for;information on anxiety, depression, and related disorders. In their;podcast;section, you can listen to recordings from past professional conferences. They also offer free monthly;webinars, which cover a wide variety of topics.
MHA is the nations leading community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those living with mental illnesses. One of their many useful features is the;mental health screen; a quick quiz that helps you determine if youre experiencing a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression.
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Associations With Infectious Pathogens
A 2017 study found that participants tended to associate hole patterns with skin-transmitted pathogens. Study participants reported feelings of skin-itching and skin-crawling when viewing such patterns.
Disgust or fear of potential threats is an adaptive evolutionary response. In many cases, these feelings help keep us safe from danger. In the case of trypophobia, researchers believe it may be an overgeneralized and exaggerated form of this normally adaptive response,
How To Cure Trypophobia
Though it’s not listed in the DSM5, trypophobia can cause disturbance in people’s lives.
“As for any fear or aversion, if your symptoms are persistent and distressing or impairing, I would recommend consulting with a mental-health professional with expertise in exposure treatment,” Puliafico said. In exposure treatment, a therapist guides an individual in gradually facing objects or situations that provoke fear or disgust. “There is growing evidence that specific phobias can be treated intensively, and in certain cases after just a single exposure session.”
- See if your skin crawls at the sight of Suriname sea toads giving birth, from National Geographic.
- Learn more about anxiety disorders and phobias in this video from Crash Course.
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The Answer Might Be Evolutionary And It May Have To Do With Our Fear Of Poisonous Animals
Most common phobias fear of spiders, heights, dogs, snakes, the darkness are to things that would have been dangerous to our ancestors, Glass said.
Individuals that readily feared these things were less likely to die before reproducing successfully, and so they passed on those genes to us, he added.
Some evolutionists think that closely clustered objects accidentally trigger our fear of poisonous animals, which may show these cluster patterns.
What The Science Says
Trypophobia first entered scientific literature in 2013, when researchers proposed that the condition stems from an innate aversion to dangerous animals. The scientists lit upon the idea when one of their study participants mentioned their fear of the blue-ringed octopus, a highly poisonous animal with bruise-colored spots. The researchers realized that many dangerous animals, such as the box jellyfish, inland taipan snake and poison dart frog, share similar visual features to trypophobia triggers; namely, their patterns are typically high-contrast and clustered, but not so close that they overlap.
Some scientists theorize that trypophobia is not a overgeneralized fear of animals, but of human disease. Many infectious diseases and parasites leave the skin riddled with spots and sores think of smallpox, scarlet fever or botfly bites. A 2017 study suggested that this overlap may explain the nausea and “skin crawling” sensations conjured by the condition.
Other evidence suggests that trypophobia triggers simply provoke visual discomfort, and that some people are particularly sensitive to their effects, such as eyestrain and perceptual distortions. In addition, a 2016 study found that trypophobes tend to be highly empathetic and sensitive to disgusting stimuli. Ultimately, scientists still haven’t pinned down the underlying cause of the condition.
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