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Trypophobia: symptoms, causes and treatment

Do images in which there are many holes together generate discomfort, discomfort and a great aversion to you? You are not the only one. It is a very common type of fear. We give you all the data below.

Itching, chills, goosebumps and even nausea. This is experienced by those who are exposed to figures that have many holes, small rectangles or even convex circles. Trypophobia is an extreme fear or repulsion of any pattern of geometric shapes closely spaced together..

Sometimes, simply observing the small agglomerated soap bubbles that form in the water when you shower can give you this sensation. This is a type of psychological reality that is very recurrent in the population. Thus, and although the associated causes are not clearly known, you will like to know that there are different mechanisms to address it. We explain it to you.

“Fear is as deep as the mind allows.”

~Japanese proverb~

What is trypophobia?

Trypophobia is a condition in which you experience repulsion and irrational fear when seeing or thinking about hole patterns.. These can be bumps or groups of small geometric shapes. Now, it is true that we could label this condition as a specific phobia, but the truth is that there is some controversy around this very recurring experience.

Research published in Psychological Reports describes it as an unconscious fear. Somehow, these visual images evoke poisonous organisms. It would, therefore, be a kind of instinctive reaction to danger. The fear is real, but There is no clear consensus to classify it as a phobia at the moment.. Let’s see its characteristics.

Symptoms of trypophobia

Trypophobic symptoms can vary from one person to another.. This is important to highlight because it is common for this condition to be comorbid with certain clinical conditions. There are those who only experience a certain discomfort and others, however, develop a more pronounced clinical picture. We analyze it.

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Repulsion or disgust: If you suffer from a fear of holes, what you will experience is an intense feeling of disgust, discomfort and discomfort when seeing images or patterns in this way. This may lead you to avoid objects or situations that contain such shapes.Anxiety or fear: In the most pronounced cases of trypophobia, nervousness, sweating, tremors or other psychophysical symptoms appear directly linked to anxiety.Nausea or upset stomach: Some people report that they often feel nauseated or upset stomach when they see trypophobic patterns. Sometimes this experience can be so severe as to cause vomiting.Itchy or uncomfortable skin: It is very common to experience very unpleasant sensations on the skin. It is a generalized restlessness that prompts you to scratch or rub your arms or face in response to these patterns.Chills or goosebumps: Another common physical characteristic is the feeling of chills or goosebumps. Some people notice how their skin crawls when they see these stimuli.

What are the causes?

Regardless of whether or not we are dealing with a specific phobia, there is an undeniable fact. Many people experience disgust or horror when seeing small holes grouped together. It is a real fear and science seeks to understand the mechanisms that orchestrate it. Below we describe what we know so far.

Evolutionary causes

What do you usually feel when you see a stimulus of these characteristics? Generally, what the brain perceives when seeing a trypophobic pattern is a feeling of danger. And it’s not a coincidence. The magazine Cognition & Emotion points out that trypophobia It may be an evolutionary response to stimuli that, in the past, could cause diseases..

It would, therefore, be an atavistic fear that made sense at some point in our evolution. Maybe, certain plants, insects or other organisms with these patterns were a risk to us. Consider, for example, that disgust is an emotion that aims to prevent us from consuming or approaching something harmful. To this day, this mechanism is still present.

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Reaction to a very specific visual pattern

Research published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology was able to demonstrate that trypophobic responses appear before images with a very particular spectral profile. Not with others. It is as if these forms activate a response of alarm and fear in us by recalling past threats such as those already described in the brain.

In fact, this unpleasant sensation can appear early in young children. Generally, these are the stimuli that usually trigger them. You may feel identified:

pomegranates, sponges, plastic bubbles, soap bubbles, fruit seeds, honeycombs, clothing prints, lotus seed pods, holes in decaying meat, etc.

When can we consider the fear of holes as a phobia?

Feeling simple repulsion and fear of holes cannot be considered a phobia.. It is stipulated that it could be a normal and frequent fear in human beings, since it would come, as we have told you, from certain dangers such as contracting diseases. Now, does this mean that we are not facing any psychological problem?

If this irrational fear were to interfere with your daily life and well-being, we would already be talking about a disorder.. As well described in The Lancet, specific phobias are an anxiety disorder that presents comorbidity with other clinical conditions.

In this sense, If you notice that you are becoming obsessed with these patterns and that you see them almost anywhere, ask for help.. If you avoid some places, feel anxious about doing certain activities, and your psychosocial sphere is very limited, talk to a professional. A correct diagnosis will always be the best starting point. Below, we explain how it is treated.

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Is there any clinical treatment?

The treatment of choice for trypophobia is usually in vivo exposure to the feared stimulus, in this case to geometric figures or images. Likewise, it is useful to complete this resource with relaxation techniques. We describe in detail which are the most beneficial therapeutic approaches:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapeutic model is the most used to treat phobias and anxiety. Furthermore, as pointed out in Frontiers in Psychiatry, is the one with the most research behind it. In this case, the therapist helps you identify the irrational thoughts associated with this fear to modify and rationalize them.Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy involves, as we have already described, a gradual exposure to the stimuli that trigger trypophobia. It is done in a controlled and safe environment.Relaxation techniques: Relaxation is generally used as a complement to the exposure itself. This will allow you to regulate psychophysical responses little by little and even avoid the appearance of panic attacks.

Fear of holes, a very common reality

If you experience this same aversion you will know that it is not pleasant. Sometimes, on social media or on television, these same patterns can suddenly appear. Seeing a set of small holes together repels you and makes you turn your eyes. However, it is evident that Beyond that little bad time that trypophobic stimuli generate, they do not interfere with your life.

This is why experts have doubts when it comes to describing it as a specific phobia. It is an evolutionary fear, a vestige of our past to a world that, at one time, was threatening. Today we only have its trace left, that spring in the form of repulsion. Nevertheless, If it interferes with your functionality, always ask for the help of a psychologist. You deserve to be well.

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