Do Holes Freak You Out, Too?
My Struggle With Trypophobia
I hate things with clustered holes.
When I was little, in fourth grade to be exact, I remember looking at a Social Studies textbook page. The picture showed a dry piece of land, and the dry piece of land was vast, brown, and very, very cracked. For some reason, looking at that image, as a nine-year-old, made my scalp feel tight and goosebumps show up on my skin. I felt so disturbed and strange, and I had no idea what was happening. I would go back to that page, just to experience that feeling. Was this real? Why was my body reacting this way?
As an adult, at Michaels, I saw a dried up lotus seed pod and reacted the same way. I was an adult, not a child, and again, my scalp was tightening, and my skin was crawling. I was perplexed and asked my brother if he felt the same when he looked at the dried up lotus seed pod. He did not experience anything, and again, I felt strange, disturbed, and extremely confused. I didn't even know how to Google this feeling. Was I supposed to type something like "tingly skin when I look at something with holes"? I didn't bother and chalked it up to something possibly due to a mental issue that I wasn't diagnosed with.
For the longest time, I didn't know that this phenomenon had a name. I didn't even know that other people experienced it! I felt like I was some abnormal 'freak' that was affected by something so trivial, something that no one else experienced. On Facebook, a few years, that image of a dried up lotus seed pod appeared on Facebook, and again, my skin and scalp responded, almost as if I felt afraid, almost as if I saw a spider. (I don't like spiders!) On the bottom, the article stated something along the lines of, "Do you have trypophobia?" I took the quiz. It was the worst quiz I have taken in my life. There were horrible images of diseased-looking holes within a living organism, such as a cluster of holes or cells within a hand, or on a woman's chest. Even the YouTube video of a Surinam toad mother carrying her babies on her back was so intense, in a terrible way. Thinking about it now is giving me what might be best called the 'heebie-jeebies,' whatever that is. I found my 'tribe.' I found that many other people were part of this phobia tribe Mental illness? Fear? I decided to research this phenomenon. I wanted to know what was wrong with me.
What Is Trypophobia?
It is a phobia that is considered a 'proposed phobia.' It illicit the feelings of intense anxiety and fear. IT's caused when one gazes upon small holes (or bumps) that are in a strange, irregular pattern or a cluster form. The sight of these cluster holes immediately gives one the feeling of a variety of symptoms. One may feel a panic attack, hot sweats, increased blood pressure or heart rate and even migraines.
What Is the Science Behind Trypophobia?
Scientists feel that trypophobia may happen due to features in nature that are considered dangerous. This can be correlated to how specific colors or snakes, butterflies or other animals are a clear warning to predators that consuming or bothering that animal is not safe. The trypophobia response could be part of the brain's evolutionary response to warning the person that something about that cluster of holes is dangerous. "Fear is the normal response to danger, while phobias are characterized by excessive, unconscious, and persistent fear that constantly triggers anxiety. Therefore, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, phobias receive the name of specific phobias and are classified according to their trigger. A particular type of phobia, known as “trypophobia,” is described as fear or repulsion to patterns of holes." (Martinez, 2018) Recently, there have been new developments regarding Trypophobia, which is comforting but the research is in its early, baby stages.
The worst thing about trypophobia is that research on it forces one to stumble upon pictures of anxiety-inducing trypophobic pictures. It used to be more of a diagnosis that was not taken seriously, as it's tough to explain unless you suffer from the condition yourself. If you 'suffer' from trypophobia, you are not alone! Hopefully, this article answered a few questions, without exposing you to any triggering images of something that is meant to trigger your secret aversion rudely.
Martinez-Aguayo, J. C., Lanfranco, R. C., Arancibia, M., Sepúlveda, E., & Madrid, E. (2018). Trypophobia: What Do We Know So Far? A Case Report and Comprehensive Review of the Literature. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9(15). http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00015
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Charlotte Doyle