The fear of holes, or trypophobia, is an irrational and persistent fear of holes, generally not the huge ones but the tiny holes seen within asymmetrical clusters. It is a rather unusual, albeit, a common type of phobia, wherein sufferers report having an adverse reaction to images of holes or objects with holes.
Typical symptoms of trypophobia
According to researchers Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins of the University of Essex, the brains of trypophobic individuals associate the holes with some kind of danger. The kind of danger one senses or imagines it yet to be established.
The fear of holes not only covers holes in the form of images, the individual may also fear holes in meat, clusters/pores on the skin, on vegetables or fruits or even those in sponges, wood, honeycombs etc. For some people, even the mere verbal mention of “fear of small holes” is enough to trigger trembling and shuddering.
The reaction displayed by each trypophobic individuals is different: some feel their skin ‘crawling’, others may shudder, a few report feeling itchy while still others report feeling physically sickened or disgusted. Some phobics also report thoughts of falling into the holes triggering major panic attacks.
Causes of trypophobia
A group dedicated to the fear of holes on a popular social media site has tried to establish the causes behind this as yet unexplored phobia. Often people are completely unaware that they have a latent form of trypophobia until they actually see images of holes. Individuals in the group have volunteered the following probable causes behind this unusual fear:
- Deep rooted emotional problem-Some object associated with childhood that triggers traumatic memories associated with holes. Possible bee stings in the past that led to a swelling wherein the swollen skin displayed every pore.
- Scientists have also reported that evolution may be one of the major causes behind the fear of holes. They explain this fact by giving the example of “pockmarked objects” which do not seem “quite right or completely normal”. Some primitive portion of the brain perceives or associates these ‘pockmarks’ with something dangerous.
- Holes also tend to be associated with organic objects like rashes or skin blisters that typically follow an episode of measles or chicken pox.
Treating fear of holes
Facing your fear of holes is the best way to overcome it. Trypophobia is as yet an unexplored science, however, the same methods of treatment used for overcoming other kinds of anxiety and phobias can be used for treating trypophobia:
Cognitive behavior therapy: This therapy focuses on altering a person’s thinking. This includes converting harmful or unproductive thought patterns into controlled and positive ones. It eventually helps the trypophobic individual distinguish between reality and imagination.
If a deep rooted emotional problem is the likely cause behind the fear of holes, then behavior therapy, counseling and hypnosis may also prove to be very effective in treating trypophobia.
Neuro Linguistic programming therapy is also being used for treating trypophobia. This includes exposing the subject to his/her fears and altering or reprogramming them in order to diminish the phobia.
As can be seen, a lot needs to be studied in order to determine the origin and exact cause of the fear of holes. There are no diagnostic tests for determining if one has the fear of holes. However, if an image of holes or the mere thought thereof is taking an extreme form or affecting your day to day life, it is best to undergo one of the therapies explained above in order to regain control over this fear.