Sunday, 25 September, 2022

Atharva Blogs

Meeting all your writing needs

single post

  • Home
  • Fear of holes: Where is your Phobia taking you?
Medical Facts

Fear of holes: Where is your Phobia taking you?

Indeed we are not created equally, but we all have something in common i.e. Phobia. Phobias can be described as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to some object or situation. It could be from water, heights to even insects which are almost harmless to us. Phobia is characterized by extreme, unconscious, and persistent fear. It is a type of anxiety disorder. The onset of a phobia is usually rapid in nature. Phobias can be specific, social, or agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) types.

Yes, you and I, both have had experiences of phobia and the exact psychology behind it is still unclear. I have elaborated one of a kind, which is fear from holes which is uncommonly known as trypophobia.

What is Trypophobia?

Image result for lotus stem pods


Trypophobia refers to the fear of or aversion to clusters of holes.

It is the sickening response, unpleasant or repulsive feelings induced by observing a cluster of unobjectionable objects (e.g. lotus seed pods). In trypophobia even the sight of repetitive arrangement or clump of holes can act as stimuli that can cause disgust and unpleasant reactions.

It is a condition that involves intense and absurd fear towards holes, repetitive patterns, prominent protuberances, etc. Interestingly, it is found that images that present high contrast energy at low midrange spatial frequency usually arouse symptoms. It is commonly accompanied by neuro splanchnic symptoms in which the autonomic nervous system is concerned.

In “Psychological Science” a journal of “Association for Psychological Science, researcher COLE published his findings which suggests people of this condition feels like they are looking at a poisonous animal can be due to the ancient evolutionary part of the brain.

According to researchers basically, images of clustered holes causes fear in trypophobes as they look similar to poisonous or venomous organisms. For some people, these triggers continue to function, and for this reason, they experience anxiety which causes adrenaline rush leading to behavioral symptoms.

Trypophoboia is currently not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

According to a study of some researchers found that this condition exists in some form and when the subject was exposed to triggers they showed some real symptoms. The phobia is not officially recognized and there is still limited information available for this disorder and thus research is still continued to reveal more about it and to consider it as an official medical condition.

Signs and symptoms experienced by trypophopes

In trypophobia people after looking at an object or image that has lots of tiny holes on its surface such as lotus seed pods, strawberry, sponges, a wasp’s nest, etc. generally experience a feeling of discomfort, dizziness, and itchiness on the entire body.

In trypophobia shapes that elicit reaction includes-

  • clustered holes in innocuous objects such as fruit and bubbles
  • contexts associated with the danger of insect holes.
  • holes in the lesion or contaminated tissue. Such a diseased pattern can be seen in animals like dogs in which the causative organisms are mango worms.

Image result for mango worm disease in dogs

(mango worm disease in dogs) Image source:

According to reports people commonly feel uncomfortable or disgust while looking at such trypophobic images rather than showing fear.

A trypophobic person can suffer from dizziness or uneasiness while looking at the images or if he can watch he would think of covering or destroying the same. They cannot focus or concentrate on the images, even a glance can make them uncomfortable.

Common symptoms experienced by people suffering from trypophobia upon seeing these shapes are-

  • panic attacks
  • trembling or shaking
  • a crunching stomach
  • hot or cold flashes; tingling sensation
  • sweating and palpitation
  • nauseating
  • skin itching
  • skin crawling
  • goosebumps
  • anxiety
  • feeling of discomfort
  • Visual distress such as fatigue, eyestrain, distortions, or hallucination

What can be the causes of trypophobia?

According to Wilkins and Le the patterns of holes from trypophobic images leads to excessive demands on the brain which causes visual discomfort, eyestrain, or a headache.

As these images have meticulous and statistical properties and the brain cannot process them efficiently, therefore, it requires more brain oxygenation leading to dizziness and discomfort.

Wilkins and researcher Paul Hibbard found that the brain uses about 20percent of the body’s energy for more oxygen consumption causing more discomfort when people avoid looking at the images.

According to recent studies by Kupfer and Le, a strong aversion to skin-transmitted pathogens or ectoparasites in humans could show symptoms of trypophobia. They conducted a study of a group of trypophobes and found that the participants exhibited high levels of disinclination towards images of such diseases which showed pathogens in a cluster.

According to the study, it is mostly found persistent among females, further, the mean age of onset is in teenage years. It is found more commonly in patients with depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Mostly a family history can be found.

It is usually associated with a great deal of psychological distress and impairment and affected work, social life, and home life.

Diagnosis of Trypophobia

Until now there is no such diagnostic test for it as very little is known about the cause and origin of this disease. But if looking at such images one feels uneasy and uncomfortable, and then he may be considered trypophobe depending upon the severity of the symptoms.

Treatment for trypophobia

Phobias can be treated easily with the help of self–help strategies, therapies, and medications. Various methods to deal with trypophobia are-

  • Educate Yourself- to deal with anxiety and discomfort caused by irrational fear. One should learn the truth behind it and reach out to the causing factor of phobia. Learning about the existing reason, or source, and function of the phobia causing factor will help in confronting the fear.
  • Counseling- proper psychiatric counseling can overcome fear.
  • Confront your fears- try not to run away from your fear as this will only reinforce it.
  • Exposure Therapy- In exposure therapy, an individual is exposed to a stimulus that triggers symptoms repeatedly. With repeated exposure level of anxiety drops and there is a hold on the situation when they are exposed to small holes pattern.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)- includes gradual and repeated exposure to the stimulus but it is combined with other techniques to help manage the anxiety. This therapy helps in keeping the thoughts overpowering.
  • Neuro-linguistic program- It exposes and reprograms individuals in a way to decrease the intensity of fear from the stimulus.
  • Lifestyle Modifications- It could be anything from practicing exercise to intake of a healthy diet, good sleep, hygiene, and avoidance of caffeine and other stimulants.
  • RELAXATION TECHNIQUES- practicing deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation can be of great help.

Medications for Trypophobia

Furthermore, medications such as BETA BLOCKERS and SEDATIVES can help in reducing anxiety and its symptoms. These medications should be taken under the psychiatrist’s Guidance and supervision.

Medication should be used if symptoms of phobias are severe and uncontrollable and interfere with a person’s daily life.

BETA BLOCKERS- are the drugs that neutralize the triggering effects of adrenaline in the body such as increased pulse rate, high blood pressure, pounding heart, and trembling voice and limbs.

SEDATIVES-or tranquilizer drugs like benzodiazepines help in relaxing by reducing the amount of anxiety. The consumption of sedatives needs to be more cautious because of the side effects. It should be avoided if there is a history of alcohol or drug dependence.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS-  It is widely prescribed in cases of severe phobia cases. The drug of choice is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Effect of Social media on the prevalence of trypophobia

As stated in Wikipedia in 2017, after American horror story movie featured a trypophobic character which leads to significant media attention. It has surfaced with some disturbing images ultimately leading to criticism. The viewers said that the show was insensitive enough for the trypophobic individuals.

The condition is unfamiliar to the general public, and many people with the condition do not know the name for it. So, out of curiosity people started posting pictures on social media. These pictures were resembling holes and clusters (especially the lotus seed head) photoshopped onto human skin. This triggered trypophobic symptoms in people affecting this condition.

According to Cole and Wilkins in trypophobia a feeling of repulsion and repugnance increases if holes are on human skin.

(Photoshop picture of human skin floating on social media) Image Source:


Trypophoboia is currently not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

But some researchers have found evidence that when exposed to triggers trypophobes show symptoms that affect a person’s personal and social life.

In contrast to researchers, many people who are experiencing symptoms of trypophobia have come together and formed groups on various social media. They come to discuss their symptoms and mental state and ways to overcome fear. Science is still researching its origin and symptoms.

4 comments on Fear of holes: Where is your Phobia taking you?

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published.