What Are Phobias?
Phobias can be described as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to some object or situation. It is characterized by extreme, unconscious and persistent fear. It is a type of an anxiety disorder. The onset of a phobia is usually rapid in nature. Phobias can be specific, social or agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) types.
What Is Trypophobia?
Trypophobia refers to the fear of or aversion to clusters of holes. It is the sickening response, unpleasant or repulsive feeling 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 which involves intense and absurd fear towards holes, repetitive patterns, prominent protuberances etc. It is found that images that present high contrast energy at low midrange spatial frequency usually arouses symptoms. It is commonly accompanied by neuro splanchnic symptoms in which 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 poisonous animal can be due to 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 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.
Trypophobia Signs and Symptoms
- 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 danger of insect holes
- Holes in lesion or contaminated tissue. Such diseased pattern can be seen in animals like dogs in which the causative organisms are mango worms
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 that would think of covering or destroying the same. They cannot focus or concentrate 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
- skin itching
- skin crawling
- goose bumps
- 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 brain cannot process them efficiently, therefore, it requires more brain oxygenation leading dizziness and discomfort.
Wilkins and researcher Paul Hibbard found that the brain uses about 20 percent of the body’s energy for more oxygen consumption causing more discomfort when people keep themselves away from looking into pictures.
According to recent studies of Kupfer and Le a strong aversion to skin transmitted pathogens or ectoparasites in human could show symptoms of trypophobia. They conducted a study of a group of trypopbes and found that the participants exhibited high levels of disinclination towards images of such diseases which showed pathogens in cluster.
- According to study it is most found persistent among females.
- A mean age of onset is in teenage years.
- It is found more common 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.
Until now there is no as 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.
Phobias can be treated easily with 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 an irrational fear one should learn the truth about the thing that is causing phobia. Learning about the reason of the existence or source and function of the thing can help to confront the fear.
- Counselling – a proper psychiatric counseling can overcome the 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 Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – This therapy also 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 Programme – this therapy exposes and reprograms individuals so that they can decrease the intensity of fear from the stimulus.
- Lifestyle Modifications – practising exercise, eating healthy foods, good sleep, hygiene, and avoidance of caffeine and other stimulants also help.
- Relaxation Techniques – practicing deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation can be of great help.
- Medications – medications such as BETA BLOCKERS and SEDATIVES can help in reducing anxiety and its symptoms. All medications should be prescribed by a psychiatric doctor. 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. They should be used with caution because of their adverse side effects as well as they can be addictive. It should be avoided if there is a history of alcohol or drug dependence.
- Antidepressants – they are usually described for severe phobia cases. Drug of choice is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Effect Of Social Media In The Prevalence Of Trypophobia
Following the American Horror Story movie that featured a character, who was Trypophobic, this disease gained considerable media attention. Even, the show as criticized for show casing the thoughtlessness towards people suffering from this fear. As this condition is not well known 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 like 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.
- Trypophobia 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 shows symptoms that affect 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 to discuss their symptoms and mental state. Science is still researching its origin and symptoms.