Things You Don’t Learn in Psych: Trypophobia

So this morning I was reading a Fashions of Star Trek tumblr (What? Come on, that’s clearly awesome) and saw a picture captioned “Sorry about the lamp, trypophobia sufferers.

And I was like, “Huh?  What’s trypophobia?  What’s wrong with the la- OH.”

LOOK UPON ME AND DESPAIR.

And I realized that whatever that word meant, it might explain why I was vaguely creeped out.  I’ve always had an intense aversion to certain textures – maybe this “trypophobia” thing was the explanation.

So I googled it and it turned out to mean “fear of holes”.  But despite the fancy Latin, it isn’t officially a thing: the term actually originated on Urban Dictionary and isn’t recognized by any other dictionary or book.

But despite the internet recognition, a grassroots campaign to get the disorder officially recognized, and a 4,000-member facebook support group, all attempts at a Trypophobia wikipedia page have been deleted for being a “likely hoax“.  (Really, Wikipedia?  And then you turn right around and list “Monkeyphobia, as named by Lord Monkey Fist on Kim Possible“?  You should be ashamed.  Look at your life, look at your choices!)

And I get that there haven’t been any studies published yet.  But at least 4,000 people believe they have this oddly specific phobia, and many have legitimately intense variations of phobic reactions.  Isn’t that worth looking into? Heck, I don’t even care about the official ‘phobia’ label as much – I just feel strongly that Trypophobia exists as a phenomenon and is super interesting. I’m sad there’s no research.

Here’s a test.

The creators use scratching as their metric.  I didn’t feel itchy, but I was still pretty uncomfortable, so… hmmm.  (Caution: The pictures get more and more intense, so just stop as soon as you feel uneasy.  Trust me on this.  And if you’re not down with gross medical pictures, stop at 1:52.)

What do you think?

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56 thoughts on “Things You Don’t Learn in Psych: Trypophobia

  1. Pingback: Hole-ey Crap! Its Trypophobia! | Pranab Chatterjee

  2. it is real i cant sleep at night i panic i cant breath easily i get real rash all over my body just by remembering any sight of clustered holes or so..

  3. it is real i cant sleep at night i panic i cant breath easily i get real rash all over my body just by remembering any sight of clustered holes or so..

  4. Just found out i have this due to an advert for sanex showing people made up to look like pourous skin it always makes me want to vomit and i feel shaky and sweaty cant believe others have the same reaction but its good to know am not alone or insane!

    • That sanex advert is the worst thing for me ever; worse than any horror film. I kept spitting uncontrolably in anger and gagging. What a horrible advert, it should be banned. Nobody in my house will ever use that product no matter how good it is. I just don’t want to be reminded of the advert. Simple.

      • The sanex ad kills me and my daughter!! I have more of an aversion to cracks however and if I have a spot or a blackhead I have to rip it off with my fingernail, Cant bear them…!

  5. My daughter and I legitimately have Trypophobia. We decided to google what this phobia is and we literally could not go onto some of these sites because they had pictures of the very thing we cannot stomach which is clusters of holes; on plants, skins, etc. We actually had to have my son click out of certain sites with these pics because we could not even remotely look at it. We were literally screaming everytime we saw cluster pics. This is not a hoax. We even tried to find out what the cause was but we cannot find a site without pics so we can read up on it. We would like to find a cure too. Does anyone know of any sites without pics posted on them?

  6. It might not yet have a place in the DSM-4 yet but I confirm its legitimacy. Also the association with OCD is a valid link. I am interested in doing research on this so if anyone would be interested in participating please let me know. I am an advanced practice nurse and a sufferer of this.

    • Hi there. My daughter and I both have it. I am very interested in participating. We are in NY. I will leave my info below. Thanks so much and good luck.

    • My daughter & I suffer from this and until she mentioned to me how it makes her feel I have lived in denial and silence of my “problem”. I was about her age (5) when I really noticed how these images made me feel. My family doesn’t understand & she’s the only one of my four children with this and for her sake I want to deal with this with her!! HELP!

      • my fear of holes was much more severe than it is now things such as enlarged pores or clusters of black spots freaked me out and as i got older i found out this was an actual thing and im not the only one !!

  7. I’ve had this fear my entire life and only recently did my therapist find the name for it. I wish I could do more research about it, but most sites have pictures that I CAN’T look at. I scratch at my skin uncontrollably. Sometimes, I wind up breaking skin and bleeding :[ I wish it was recognized because I can’t stand this.

  8. i too have had this stramge phobia most of my life and at 14 cut a wart out of my hand with a craftknife because the texture of it disturbed me so intensively. the sanex advert triggered me into finding out mor abouit this mental condition and i would volunteer to anyone who is researching imyo what causes it.

  9. I first noticed I had it when I would go to the beach and see those rocks with the little holes and then as I got older I would see other things that genuinely made my skin crawl. The worst was when I seen a picture a group had posted on facebook a picture called ‘The worst mouth ever’ and it was the roof of somebodys mouth covered in teeth of all different sizes, then I felt physically sick when I seen a picture of a mans eye with instead of an eyeball it was skin with all little holes in it and sometimes it gets so bad where it litterally depresses me thinking about them and I just don’t want to talk to anybody.

  10. Hi I just found out about this just by curiosity one of my friends posted on Facebook and I looked into it after what I saw my skin felt itchy , goose bumps, chills , now I’m paranoid of holes does this mean I have it ? I have always been grossed out of skin rashes and skin diseases but not holes ! I can’t imagine how hard it is to live with this

  11. I have been up since one this morning ,cudnt sleep coz my friend sent me a picture of the breast rash. As I am saying this you cannot imagine what my body is going through. It cringes ,I am anxious,nauseous ,have goose bumps all over my body and my body is itching like no bodies business. It feels like worms are crawling all over my body and as a result I have deep cuts due to scratching myself. I have suffered from this phobia since childhood and I can’t take it anymore help me some one please. I can’t look at anything with holes or of a certain pattern ,I m grossed out by beans ,rice even peeling tomatoes ,I’m grossed out by cracks ,the sanex advertisement with lots of naked people ,stones, peoples hair especially when styling gel is used I can name so many things. I am confined to walk looking down cause I’m scared of what I will see please help.

  12. I have always hated seeing small hole clustered together especially with tiny things in it and I’d feel really akward talking about it when I’d get grossed out by holes and someone would ask me why, because I felt crazy, but I just found out about this because now I know I’m not the only one ( but the pics I found freaked me out)

  13. At about 52.49 I start to get queazy and itchy! I’ve bee-hives and cooking pancakes don’t do it, but that living fish thing and the medical pictures… I wanna vomit. Known about this for years, just thought I was crazy! Well, I guess I sorta am – those who don’t believe it, will always think we’re making it up until somebody “official” studies it.

    • That living fish things was WRONG. The “medical” pictures didn’t bother me, the one with his fingers I’m pretty sure is a known photoshop — I’ve seen it before.

  14. hi, perhaps someone will see that comment even though the post is old – my idea is that this phobia might be brought about by the same mechanism as synesthesia, i.e. attributing other sensory stimuli or emotion (positive, or negative such as fear) to unrelated sensory stimuli.

    • It’s real – I have never been able to stand these kinds of clusters. My fear of clusters is well known in my family and people will be thoughtful and not bring certain things to my attention; I can get very anxious. It’s been so bad at times that I am anxious for days on end and inable to scrub the images from my mind, I’ll keep obsessing about them. I just saw a picture of a ‘honeycomb design’ bike helmet (it was more like covered in holes than a true honeycomb). I was on EBay innocently looking for a helmet and I had to switch my tablet off and breathe deeply until my head got straight again. It’s a real thing and a real pain in the ass. That’s why I was looking online and saw this. I usually wont look this up because I’m terrified of some of the pictures people post- I did NOT watch that video! I do also suffer anxiety and panic disorder…if that helps any of you med or psych folks make connections.

  15. I first realized I had these fear when the lamprey fingers (the one at the end of the vid) started making the rounds online. I was so scared. I could feel them on my fingers for days. Even months later when I thought about them I would start to feel them on my fingers again. It seems to have been reduced lately as the image didn’t totally freak me out nearly as much as expected. I do have this weird itching which is the first time I have ever experienced this.

  16. my body was itching but then i still made it to the end, some may think that i am brave,eh1 your wrong. my body hurts because of itching. goshh!!

  17. Um I will not even watch that video because I’ll start cussing, scratching, shuddering, freaking out lol. Not a legit phobia my ass. I’d rather be actually afraid of something. This is just an extreme revulsion in addition to the fear. People think I’m nuts.

  18. I get really frustrated and aggressive when I see those hole.. It’s not that I fear them… It’s that they disgust me so much I have a huge urge to grab a sledge hammer and hit it.. Omg I hate seeing that stuffffff its disgusting I’ve had this since I was little… With the honeycomb and stuff I just wanted to destroy it!!!!

    • I’m exactly the same!! I get furious when I see them and the frustration is unbelievable!! I’ve had this since I was tiny, clusters of mushrooms growing outdoors disgusted me so much I had to destroy them.

  19. Sitting behind a man at church when I was really young, I would fixate on his scars from severe acne. I felt weird revulsion even then. Coral on the beach, those awful pictures. It is real. Not deadly or hurtful. Just revolting and real.

  20. That video was HORRIBLE. I almost started crying. The frog on there makes me nauseous/throw up. And that last picture with the girl… Oh my god. Chills. Itchy. Nauseous.

    1:00

  21. I have recently discovered there is a term for the aversion I have to certain textures. I would rather define it as an obsessive recollection than an aversion actually. I do get a rather anxious result from certain photos with the trypophobic textures. I would love to be part of a study, as this seems relatively new.

  22. @37 secs.

    I am def Trypophobic! When I was young I used to puncture holes in cardboard with the tip of a ballpoint pen. I’d punch hundreds of tiny little holes in clusters then run my hands over it to freak myself out! (I was a weird kid, I’m also mildly Aspergers). Yeah that used to really upset me and until now I had no idea why?! It’s haunted me for years.

  23. hey.. i felt the itchy thing when the fingers, and the girl. i made it to the end .. i think i can fight this .. the other pictures and video .. its amazing dude ..

  24. Ok really? Those pictures are horrible! Why would you ever put those for a CURE TO TYROPHOBIA page?? What is wrong with you?! If someone is looking for a CURE that means that they already have tyrophobia… DUH! If I were you I would take down the pictures

  25. I actually thght i wz da only 1,m realivd n such a way.i remembr whn i saw da sanex ad i wz wth my fam j sittn in a couch dan my body started to shiver.i sweated evrypart of my body dan my heart started beating vry fast.i felt lyk i need to scrach watsevr dat tiny insect runnin thru my whole bdy wz n dis tym my mom wz crying dan i started shaking lyk 4rm deep in my bones dan my heart bet vry slow lyk suffocating.its stil stresses me outcoz if i wz alon..I watched the video to lyk 1:58 it wz hard bt nothng lyk da ADVERT da thgth of it even makz me sick.Is da treatment.m mentally bcumin stronger as i grow bt i dnt thnk it ever curabl.sumdae i’l b j by myself hope i’l b stronger

  26. Pingback: Youth Of A Nation:Bent not Broke | Diamonds in the Rough

  27. I am so suffering g from this, I just can’t erase the image out of my mInd, it genuinely feels awful, I feel the need to smash it, this was triggered again by the Images on Facebook of the breast and the holes, god I can’t even type, I’m in a sweat and clawing at my own skin, I feel funny, I’ve tried to visualise other things but the image just doesn’t leave me. Can anyone help! I feel like I need to see. My gp , but what can he do!

  28. I absolutely REFUSE to watch that video! I have had this condition ever since I can remember! I have it to the point where I will physically break out in a rash! Shudders, Goosebumps, EXTREMELY itchy skin ALL over for days,sometimes weeks!…..the medical community needs to get their head out of their asses and recognize that THIS.IS.REAL!

  29. Cannot watch the video. Just googling this as my daughter brought it to my attention.
    Actually a name for it – who knew?

    Interesting how many people said “my daughter and I” just like us!

    Used to have a nightmare where I’d have skin on my arms the texture of corn on the cob when you’ve eaten the corn. (Which I can no longer eat!) Gross!

    Makes sense its a developed aversion towards decay and disease. Aids survival etc.

  30. My friend has always made fun of my aversion to clusters of holes (just typing those words makes my skin crawl), especially since I’ve always been pretty adventurous/I’m the one who gets to kill bugs/etc. This morning, she sent me to a buzzfeed website that was supposed to be an article about tryptophobia, but was in reality just a series of photos. You know what I mean. What a dirty trick! She’s all, “you have a real disorder, here’s what it is!” and I’m still itchy and shivery just from looking at those photos.

    Ever since childhood, I’ve methodically destroyed clusters of holes, like the holes in sand created by creatures, and the holes in ice created by road salt. I don’t have a rational explanation for it, and nobody else I’ve ever met has said they also feel this way. If you don’t have it, you don’t get it, and if you do, you wish you didn’t get it. *shivers*

    For the record – *$&%! lotus flowers, sea sponges, and carpenter ants.

  31. I think that i am a trypophil also..if that is the right term. Love holes, especially in the oral cavity and skin. They bring me comfort. My father had holes on the back of his neck from severe acne….perhaps why i find comfort? I don’t get the fear….

  32. The holes didn’t bother me, but the bug-like things rooting around in (and popping out of) some of them were pretty gross. Of course, I was previously aware that I don’t suffer from this particular fear.

    Anybody who already knows they have an irrational fear of holes, circles, etc, and chooses to watch this video anyway is ridiculous and deserves to itch, shake, vomit, etc. Seriously, have you never heard of consequences? If you’ve got this -or any visually incited issue- badly, consider staying away from the internet completely–some people will post anything, anywhere. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s unavoidable and you have to look at it. YOU are responsible for your choices, so make smarter ones.

    I believe trypo- and most other -phobia prefixes are based in Greek, not Latin, but don’t really care enough to go to the trouble of finding a real dictionary to look it up. Just saying.

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