TRIGGER WARNING: Will contain images with closely packed holes and patterns

Phobias, if you recall, are extreme or irrational fears to something.

We know about arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, and claustrophobia, the fear of small spaces, but have you ever heard of trypophobia?

Trypophobia is the fear or disgust of closely packed holes, and it’s a phobia that’s more common than you think. According to a study in Psychological Science, around 16 percent of people have this fear.

brown eyes of scared young person | Do You Have This Hole Phobia?
Photo by samer daboul on

Those with trypophobia sometimes physically feel sick and nauseous when they see surfaces, images, or videos that feature small holes gathered together. Things like strawberries, honeycombs, lotus seed pods, and pomegranates can cause those inflicted with the phobia to suffer from a variety of symptoms.

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Photo from IFLS

A person who has trypophobia can experience goosebumps, panic, shaking, sweating, and even vomiting when exposed to clusters of holes. The phobia notably has more to do with disgust than fear.

In an attempt to explain trypophobia, many researchers have postulated that the aversion stems from evolutionary causes. Some say that people fear these patterns the same way they fear dangerous animals like snakes, spiders, and other poisonous organisms.

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Photo from Talita Bateman

Another theory states that the image of clustered holes can be closely associated with infectious pathogens and skin diseases. Individuals with trypophobia who see the holes report feeling skin-crawling or skin-itching; this can be attributed to the theory that maybe they associate the holes with contamination and disease.

Again, this is an evolutionary response because it pushes the individual to think of their survival and to avoid dangerous animals or possible infections.

While researches agree that the association to such things isn’t necessarily conscious, the exposure to similar stimuli (or things that have closely packed holes) is what triggers the feelings of fear and disgust.

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Photo by Polina Zimmerman on

So what can you do if you have trypophobia?

Exposure therapy has been recommended to allow the inflicted individual to gradually get used to seeing such images and to eventually reduce and rid of the feelings of disgust altogether.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and muscle relaxation can also help with intense symptoms. A last resort to “treating” the phobia may be medications that include anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs.

The phobia is currently not yet recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders, but it still a very real thing. So now when you see a picture with many small holes close together, know that there’s a group of people who would throw up at the sight.

Trypophobia is just one of many strange fears present in the world!


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