Trypophobia: Find out what this fear of holes consists of

Do you know what the trypophobia? Experts describe it as fear or repulsion that a person feels when looking at or being near geometric figures very close together, especially small circular holes, but also very small rectangles.

Those who suffer from this intense fear suffer discomfort and manifest symptoms such as itching, tremors, tingling and repulsion when in contact with this type of geometric patterns. In more severe cases, trypophobia can cause nausea, increased heart rate, and even a panic attack.

In an interview with EFEsalud, Andrea Doreste, psychologist at the MGC Mutua clinic, answers the most common questions about this phobia and explains what it is and how it makes life difficult for those who suffer from it.

What is trypophobia or fear of holes?

This is an irrational fear of images or objects that have holes or repetitive patterns with geometric figures such as a honeycomb or pumice stones.

It is considered as a irrational fear, since phobic stimuli in this case cannot be considered threatening or truly dangerous entities; Therefore, panic attacks related to it are considered “false alarms”, since they simply occur due to eye contact with images that are unpleasant.

It is important to note that this is not a formal term in psychology yet; Well, in fact, it has not yet been considered a disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

However, it’s a phobia extremely common, since there are a large number of people who have expressed these types of fears.

Trypophobia in the skin, one of the most common cases, is not a disease, but simply the fear of suffering from or having a set of holes in the skin.

“This discomfort comes from viewing these images, hence its discovery came from the use of mobile phones, which have more cameras every day and consequently more holes,” explains the psychologist.

“There is no unanimity regarding the type of pattern that produces the phobia, but it varies from one person to another. Small holes are common; for example, shapes similar to a honeycomb or a sea sponge,” says the expert.

What causes does this phobia hide?

The exact causes that cause trypophobia are unknown since the studies carried out are quite limited.

“It is likely that the causes are along the same lines as the rest of phobias, in which the presence of what causes fear implies that a real danger could suddenly appear for the person. In some cases, a direct association can be made with illness or death,” says Doreste.

Another reason is the similarity of these figures and images with poisonous animals, such as snakes, which also cause many other phobias.

Besides, some professionals They also attribute trypophobia to the fact that the brain needs more oxygen and energy to process patterns of this type, which is why feelings of distress appear.

What are your symptoms?

People who suffer from trypophobia may experience panic attacks similar to those caused by other phobias. In these cases the most common symptoms are:

  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Tachycardias.
  • Tremors.
  • Sweating.
  • Difficulty breathing

However, one of the most common symptoms of trypophobia is prickly skin and itching in different parts of the body, the result of the irrational fear of having that pattern of holes in one’s own body.

“In addition, it is important to highlight that trypophobia is not limited to a specific demographic group and that it can affect people of all ages,” explains the psychologist from the MGC Mutua clinic.

How does trypophobia affect daily life?

Trypophobia affects those who suffer from it to the extent that they encounter this type of geometric patterns in their daily lives, such as mobile phone cameras, sponges, a curtain or a wall with dots…

“It is limiting whenever the person has in front of them what generates phobia: those dots, those holes, or that pattern or that shower curtain with dots…”, explains the psychologist.

Typically, many affected people do not seek treatment because they do not feel that their daily routine is altered by this phobia.

What is the therapy or treatment?

“As with the rest of phobias, treatment involves combining medication with cognitive-behavioral therapy,” explains the expert.

“Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective. In addition to relaxing, it is positive to practice breathing techniques, but above all you have to work a lot on a cognitive and thinking level,” says Doreste.

However, the psychologist states, a professional must make the assessment, since it depends on the severity of the symptoms and the interference they may have with day-to-day activities.

This type of phobia is usually accompanied by others that are similar or not, such as fear of nature, blood or injections, social phobia of closed spaces or other specific things.

Trypophobia, a fear under study

Trypophobia is a peculiar phenomenon that has aroused the interest of healthcare professionals. psychology and neuroscience. Some studies suggest that the response to these visual patterns may have evolutionary roots in the preservation of the species. That is, the aversion to certain patterns could have evolved as a defense mechanism, to avoid possible threats in nature.

Additionally, trypophobia in people has sparked debates about the relationship between the mind and visual perception. Some experts suggest that this phobia may be linked to the way the brain processes and organizes visual information, which would lead to intense emotional reactions to certain stimuli.

“There are other phobias that are also unusual, and that have been the subject of study and interest in the scientific field. Some of them are chronophobia, which involves the fear of the passage of time; xanthophobia, which is the fear of the color yellow; eisoptrophobia, which is the fear of mirrors or any object that shows a reflection; somniphobia or fear of sleeping, or coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, which in some cases can cause panic attacks,” concludes Andrea Doreste.