What is Trypophobia? Definition, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

By | 12/02/2018
trypophobia define

Short Definition: Trypophobia is the fear of groups of holes. It can also involve fears of various patterns.

Do you look at a honeycomb and feel repulsion? Just looking at any object that has many small holes together makes you nauseous?

Then, you may have trypophobia or phobia of holes grouped into repetitive patterns, a fear quite common in humans, although little known in reality.

To understand a bit better the trypophobia, its possible treatments and how to surpass it, please continue reading.

Causes

Traumatic experiences cause most phobias, though some people learned them culturally.

It is not clear what causes this phobia. Early childhood experiences may play a role. It may be that objects containing many little holes subconsciously remind people of disease or decay.

In days gone by, diseases such as smallpox were prevalent and often fatal. Chickenpox remains a common disease of childhood.

Possibly trypophobia occurs because objects containing many holes remind sufferers, on a subconscious level, of the irregular pimples and blisters caused by illness.

According to Geoff Cole, one of the vision science researchers, the visual patterns that trigger the symptoms in people with trypophobia are similar to those found in various venomous animals.

Some of the world’s deadliest animals, such as the blue-ringed octopus, the royal cobra, some scorpions and various spiders, have spot patterns on their surface.

Taking this into consideration, we could infer that the trypophobia has a simple evolutionary explanation: the people who feel repulsion when observing these patterns distances themselves from the dangerous animals, which helps them in their survival.

In this way, it is not surprising that even today many people present anxiety symptoms by observing patches of spots or holes reminiscent of those seen in the most poisonous animals in the world.

It would be reminiscent of a fear that in the past helped many humans to survive.

Objects such as sponges, honeycombs, showerheads, lotus seed pods, woodworms, and “air delight” or “aero” chocolate bars can cause trypophobia.

Sufferers sometimes say that it’s not the holes themselves, but the fear of what they contain, which causes the phobia.

Possibly, in these cases, the actual fear is of the hordes of tiny insects or spiders that the sufferer imagines might be lurking in the holes, ready to swarm out and attack them.

Fear of spiders (arachnophobia) and fear of insects (entomophobia or insectophobia) are common phobias, which may be related to some cases of trypophobia.

It would be interesting to find out whether there is a statistical correlation between suffering from trypophobia and suffering from arachnophobia or entomophobia.

Patterns, such as those formed by iron filings around a magnet, can also cause a similar phobia. Again, there may be some subconscious link to the patterns of spots seen in diseases.

Investigators have found that the optical contrast on objects that cause trypophobia is similar to that of the distinction of the patterns on various poisonous animals, such as the king cobra, blue-ringed octopus, and deathstalker scorpion.

It is possible that trypophobia arises from an instinctive aversion to poisonous creatures.

It might also be true that trypophobia is an instinct found to some extent in our evolutionary ancestors and related beings, and those venomous animals have evolved patterns that repel potential predators by exploiting this trypophobic instinct.

Trypophobia is a strange condition, and although various researchers made suggestions as to the causes, they haven’t found a definite answer. Further research into the trigger of this phobia could have exciting results.

The human mind has its oddities and quirks, not all of which are susceptible to straightforward analysis. But every step forward can help us to understand the mind a bit better

Symptoms

Trypophobia gives symptoms of anxiety, in common with other phobias. Sufferers may sweat, become nauseous, feel itchy, and feel a strong sense of general disquiet. In severe cases, people are overwhelmed by panic attacks.

Trypophobia, along with many other phobias, may seem trivial to those who don’t suffer from the condition, but it can have a significantly detrimental effect on people’s lives.

Treatments

Often trypophobia is not severe enough to require any medical treatment. Sufferers may get help by means of cognitive behavioral therapy involving a desensitization program (exposure therapy).

Sufferers would typically talk about the objects that scared them, then gradually learn to deal with pictures of them, and finally, learn to remain calm with the objects themselves.

Medicines are not recommended for the treatment of phobias since “talking therapies” often succeed. Sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs could be used in severe cases if required.

Exposure Therapy

In this type of treatment, the therapist will gradually expose you to the stimulus that causes your symptoms, helping you control anxiety through different tools.

The gradual and repeated exposure over time will make you feel less and less anxiety, and you will be able to control the situation when you see patterns of small holes. You can learn more about this therapy in this article.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Briefly, cognitive behavioral therapy consists of the change of behavioral thoughts.

It also involves gradual exposure to the stimulus, combined with other techniques that will help you deal with situations that cause you anxiety in different ways.

It will also change your beliefs about your phobia and the impact it has on your life.

Medicines

A psychiatrist must prescribe them. Antidepressant medications, tranquilizers or beta blockers are prescribed to treat some phobias.

Beta blockers are medications that neutralize the effects of adrenaline in the body. They slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce tremors.

Antidepressants that doctors usually prescribe for severe phobias are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Your doctor may also prescribe other antidepressants for symptom control, depending on each case.

Is trypophobia a real phobia?

Some people think that the trypophobia is a mere psychological curiosity. There could be as many phobias as there are people in the world because people can fear anything.

A traumatic experience could provoke a phobia to infinity of objects or situations.

But the question is whether, in reality, the trypophobia can cause symptoms so intense as to interfere with the daily life of the person. If it were, trypophobia would be a real problem to solve.

Many people report having severe symptoms when viewing images with geometric patterns, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, cold sweat, and tachycardias, among others.