What Its Like To Have Trypophobia
The best way that I can describe trypophobia is by saying its the visual equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Seeing clusters of holes makes me squirm, and the worst offenders induce nausea.
Aside from honeycombs, clusters and patterns of holes surprisingly pop up in a lot of places. Sponges, pomegranates, chia seeds, all trigger it for me. I also loathe bumpy pumpkins that look like they have warts. Come fall, I order my groceries online to avoid seeing them at the front of grocery stores. Sounds dramatic, yes? But sometimes the lumpy pumpkins are coupled with lotus pods, which is the ultimate visual assault in my book.
Also, I completely lose my appetite if someone at the table orders octopus. The dimensional, raised suction holes on the octupus tentacles sets off my trypophobia more than anything else.
I also recognize that trypophobia can sound like a silly, irrational fear. The first time I was scuba diving, I was less concerned about being 55 feet underwater with an oxygen tank strapped to my back than I was with catching a surprise glimpse of coral and not being able to avert my gaze quickly enough. As a biology student in college, explaining that I had trouble studying for the test because the clusters of cells were grossing me out sounded more ridiculous that my dog ate my homework. I get it its weird.
But, is trypophobia which gives me goosebumps and turns my stomach actually a phobia?
Identify And Understand The Triggers
The people who have the fear of holes or trypophobia get uncomfortable when they come across a cluster of holes. The intensity of the reaction to the same varies from a person to another. However, the first thing is to understand that a person has the fear of holes and what are the triggers that make them uncomfortable. To identify the triggers means to understand the kind of cluster that bothers a persona and the intensity of reaction a person has towards it. This remains an important step for conducting the trypophobia test.
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.
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Maintain A Healthy Life Style
Maintaining a good mental or psychological health is one of the first steps towards dealing with the various kinds of phobias. This refers to having a good lifestyle that involves good eating and sleeping pattern and regular exercise on the list. Some of the small changes such as getting minimum eight hours of undisturbed sleep eating proper and regular meals without skipping any having a balanced diet that includes healthy fruits and vegetables and exercising for a minimum of thirsty minutes every day amongst others can help to fight the anxiety of a person to a large extent.
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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The Visual Stress Theory
The current favourite of researchers like Cole, this theory proposes, that we cant quite be sure what causes it that trypophobia serves no functional purpose and has no solid evolutionary adaptation.
The neuroscience behind this theory is quite interesting. Recently we used a technique called infrared spectroscopy to examine people with trypophobia its a method that allows you to see where the blood and activity are in somebodys brain, says Cole.
And on seeing trypophobic images, the blood was found towards the back of participants brains it was in the visual areas of the brain, rather than the frontal decision-making areas.
As Cole says, this may indicate a trypophobic response may not be prompting us to make a decision about how dangerous an object is. It indicates there might not be an evolutionary reason why we dont like these images it may simply just be that the brain doesnt like it. And we might never know more than this.
What Is The Trypophobia Test
Like any other fear or phobias, the fear of holes is extremely common in humans. Any person affected with this kind of phobia feel extreme discomfort, fear and anxiety that can even lead to panic attacks. However, the term trypophobia is relatively a new term that was just coined in the year 2005. It therefore since then helped people to face and understand their fears and conduct the trypophobia test to check whether the image or sight of many holes clustered together do make them uncomfortable or generate a sense of fear in them.
Conducting the trypophobia test to understand if a person really has the fear of holes is quite simple. The person on whom the test is conducted is made to relax and sit in a chair. After that a set of images that contains holes or patterns, the intensity of the holes increasing with every picture are shown to the person. The duration of the image that would be kept before getting changed lies between one to eight second. The goal of the person is make it till the end of the video without feeling uncomfortable or disgusting or anxious.
Process of trypophobia test
There are certain points that are laid to ensure that the trypophobia test is conducted accurately. These points are:
However the authenticity of the trypophobia test cannot be blindly trust upon. This test conducted for the purpose of education and not on any professional ground. Therefore the results of this test do not cater to guarantee any theory.
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How Do You Know You Have Math Anxiety
Symptoms of Math Anxiety The student is either too afraid of failure, or simply thinking about math brings so many negative emotions, that he or she is unwilling to even try. The student feels that he or she is the only one incapable of finding the solutions, even if the math is extremely complicated.
Why Holes And Clusters
Research into trypophobia is limited. Among the first to study the fear were psychological scientists Arnold Wilkins and Geoff Cole of the University of Essex in Colchester, England. In a paper published in 2013, they presented the theory that many of the worlds most dangerous animals, such as alligators, crocodiles, snakes and poisonous fish, have clusters of bumps and holes on their skin. Perhaps the aversion could be some sort of innate flight-fight response to dangerous or poisonous animals?
University of Kent postgraduate researcher Tom Kupfer had a different notion. Those images look to me like they would be perceived as cues to infectious disease or parasites, said Kupfer, who studies the emotion of disgust and the role it plays in our daily lives. I wouldnt be surprised if this is actually a disorder based on disgust and disease avoidance.
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What Foods Can Trigger Trypophobia
- Natural foods are abound with irregular holes. , seed pods, strawberries, , watermelon, , cantaloupes, roasted garlic, corn on the cob, exotic mushrooms even horizontally sliced pickles have this holey effect
- Plucked whole poultry
- When cooking, the bubbles in batter create little holes think pancakes and delicious buttery crumpets
- Other triggers can include Swiss cheese, sourdough bread, the bubbles in Aero chocolate bars, even the froth in your morning coffee
- Common non-food triggers include beehives, coral, lotus seed pods, and snakes
In Fact Some Experts Such As Glass Believe That Trypophobia Is Socially Transmitted And Spread Through A Combination Of Social Media And The Power Of Suggestion
“Looking at all these photos that other people find disgusting, it’s easy to think, Oh, yeah…that IS gross! But why are so many people so prone to find these images gross at all?” Glass said.
“It would be much harder to get people on board with being disgusted by a picture of baby kittens,” he added.
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Other Theories About What Triggers The Phobia
Wikimedia CommonsThis image of a sea cucumber is likely to produce symptoms of trypophobia.
Another popular theory is that trypophobia is related to an aversion to venomous or otherwise dangerous animals. The blue-ringed octopus is one example of a highly poisonous creature that displays patterns of blue circles.
Many other poisonous and venomous animals, such as the box jellyfish, inland taipan snake, and poison dart frog, also display clustered patterns.
Therefore, much like the feeling of disgust may protect us from illness, tryphophobia could be an exaggerated form of a normal aversion to dangerous animals.
Wikimedia CommonsThe blue-ringed octopus, a highly poisonous animal with a trypophobic pattern on its skin.
In addition, one of the more peculiar theories posits that people with trypophobia dont like looking at images with small, tightly packed circles because the brain requires more oxygen to process them. As such, an aversion to these images could be the brains way of avoiding over-exertion.
Ultra999/FlickrA bubble cluster.
Interestingly, some studies have also found an association between trypophobia and certain mental disorders. For example, one 2017 study reported that people with the condition were more likely to have depression and anxiety.
Overall, however, its far too early to say how trypophobia develops or what causes it, and more research needs to be done.
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,
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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.
What Is The Cause Of Trypophobia
While research on the condition is still in its infancy, some experts believe that it is human DNA to feel repelled by the repeated patterns.
Wilkins and Cole set out their theory a study from 2013.
They argued that it is instinctual to associate the shapes with danger, as the brain naturally associates them with disease or wounds.
Professor Matthews has pushed another theory, claiming that its likely people are afraid of the images because of priming and conditioning.
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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.
Trypophobia: Why A Fear Of Holes Is Real And May Be On The Rise
Some people have a visceral fear-like reaction to the holes in sponges, Swiss cheese or seed pods. Known as trypophobia, this response is increasingly common but isnt what it seems
By David Adam
When Amanda was 12, her mother took her to the doctor because she was scared by the sight of Swiss cheese. Seeded bread made her sweaty and anxious. And Amanda would cry out when she saw pictures of empty honeycomb. One day, she fled in terror from the family bathroom while it was being repaired after spotting its exposed and perforated concrete walls.
The only previous clue to her discomfort had come from her fussy eating. Ever since Amanda was a toddler, she had refused to eat certain types of bread or drink raspberry juice because she hated the feel of the textures in her mouth. But , Amanda couldnt even look at the seeds in a strawberry without anguish.
Its something that will become more pervasive and we could be forced to treat it in a more serious way given the changes in our environment, says Stella Lourenco, a psychologist
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Trypophobia Might Not Be An Actual Phobia According To Scientists
If a cluster of small holes makes your stomach turn and your skin crawl, you are not alone.
Youre one of around 16 percent of people who experience something called trypophobia the irrational fear of holes. But, some scientists are now saying, maybe its not a phobia after all.
Thats because, well, it might be rational and rooted in disgust rather than fear.
Trypophobia is poorly understood, and not recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . So researchers at Emory University set out to study the fear response in relation to clusters of holes.
But they found that the pupillary response the involuntary movement of the pupils in the eye was closer to disgust than the pupillary response to fear.
Some people are so intensely bothered by the sight of these objects that they cant stand to be around them,explained Stella Lourenco, the Emory University psychologist whose lab conducted the study.
The phenomenon, which likely has an evolutionary basis, may be more common than we realise.
Previous research conducted in 2013 concluded that the response may be related to the speckled patterns of dangerous animals, such as snakes. But in January 2017, a different explanation was put forward.
Researchers at the University of Kent proposed that a pattern of holes, like those that can be found in a lotus pod or honeycomb, arouse our aversion because they resemble parasite infestations, infectious diseases, and decomposition.
What Causes Trypophobia
Research on this phobia has been going on since 2013. Scientists at the time determined that this was due to the colors and patterns in the perforated objects and pictures. But a new study in 2017 found that some people are actually scared when they see so many holes. But these people are not afraid of holes.
These holes cause those people in their minds to fear something. When they see the holes, they associate it with something they are afraid of and that factor emerges and frightens them. What holes do is only bring out the fear that is hidden in the heart. For these reasons, this phobia called Trypophobia is not accepted as a true phobia. This is something that people have adopted. There is no such mental disorder.
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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.