I thought it was something normal one has during childhood and would eventually disappear… but I was wrong. I have this intense feeling of revulsion at the sight of an image showing a cluster of small holes. Yes, that is exactly the right term for me, ‘revulsion.’ I am not afraid of it, I just can’t stand the sight of it. I can’t even begin to imagine how I can finish this blog properly. I must have attempted five times to finish the first paragraph but couldn’t. It was hard to talk about a subject that inevitably makes me create a mental picture of what I’m afraid to talk about. Having a mental picture of it is like getting on the top building for someone who has Acrophobia or fear of heights. I’m getting goosebumps, I feel like I’m going to puke and I’m getting anxious and panicky. I want this to stop. But I don’t know how. What’s worse is that, when I try to do a research about it, I fail because most of the articles in the search results are showing images which trigger my intense feeling of revulsion.
I AM NOT AFRAID OF IT. I JUST CAN’T STAND THE SIGHT OF IT!
Luckily, one blogger understands the ethics behind writing an article involving this particular phobia and this is Jordan Trudgett. All the facts about Trypophobia that I’m writing down in here is taken from his site.
What is trypophobia?
Trypophobia is relatively unknown peculiar phenomenon that affects thousands of people. The term ‘trypophobia’ itself was only coined in 2005. It is not recognised as a phobia technically, but it does seem to be a uncontrolled reaction or response (typically fear, anxiety, revulsion and/or self-defense) of a kind of pattern of holes or bumps. It seems to affect all kinds of people young and old and across different cultural barriers which suggests it is not a culturally learned response. Often, a trypophobe will not know that anyone else suffers from the same experiences that they do.
What triggers it and what doesn’t?
The effect of a triggering image on any individual trypophobe can vary from no response to a severe reaction, but many trypophobes will agree that certain images are triggering. Generally speaking, any kind of cluster (of say at least 7) of holes or bumps (and in some cases, lesions) may cause discomfort.
Why do trypophobes have this reaction?
There is not much research data on trypophobia to conclusively explain this reaction. It won’t hurt to assume that certain kinds of clusters are similar in nature (visually) to some degenerative diseases, pox, infections/infestations, swarms, etc., which one would do well to avoid.
For most, when the clusters/pattern is on something natural/biological such as skin, the reaction is worse. Perfectly symmetrical patterns like the holes in a cheese grater may not be triggering at all (like in my case) due to its visual uniformity (man-made appearance.) But again, different people are sensitive to different things.
As it is, trypophobes are not generally aware of any particular reason they have a reaction. It is like getting goosebumps when it gets cold; it is a reaction one cannot typically prevent.
What are some of the worst triggers?
Here is a list of well-known trypophobia triggers. You will know immediately if you have trypophobia if you experience anxiety in response to these stimuli.
- Lotus seed pod, lotus breast, lotus seeds photoshopped onto skin (there are many of these), etc.,
- Surinam toad giving birth
- Botfly removal
- Tafoni (rock formation)
- The “frozen peas” image, most likely also photoshopped
When did it start for me?
When I was very little, I saw this bee house on our wall and it had some holes in it and the my first instinct was to get a knife and destroy it. And that’s exactly what I want to do right at this very moment now that I have a mental picture of it. It’s just so horrible to even think about. But at the time, I thought it was how everyone felt because who wants to have that thing on their wall anyway?
Another is when I saw the cluster of holes in the sand created by ants. Without thinking twice, I really used my slipper and destroyed it completely.
Later in life, I realized that not everyone was feeling the same way. I was with my friend one time when I saw another creation of ants in the sand and I asked my friend if the sight of it irritated her. She just laughed and said to leave it alone! Of course I didn’t. When she wasn’t looking, I practically bulldozed it.
The most recent trigger?
A friend on facebook posted an image of a breast with cluster of holes in it. Oh my God! It was horrible!!!! Horrible!!! I reported it to Facebook for being too graphics. That was just last night and I am still dwelling on it because it’s so not easy to get the image out of my mind! It was traumatic! But before last night, I was not aware that this thing I am experiencing has a name. It just comforts me to know that I am not alone on this. But it does not help knowing that there’s no medicine to help me overcome it. According to Jordan, all it takes is a lot of mental solidarity to reduce my sensitivity to trypophobic triggers. Well it’s hard especially if people on Facebook just openly post photos unaware that it might be harmful to people like me!