Trypophobia

What is Trypophobia?

Trypophobia is the fear, anxiety or aversion from objects with small holes or pores. The cluster of holes makes a Trypophobic person disgust, repulsive and feel creepy. However, it is debatable because it is not an officially recognized phobia and is yet to be approved by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). DSM-5 is a branch of the American Psychiatric Association.

The term came into existence in 2005 and gained popularity in the context of new term usage from 2009 and became the conflicting part of the research. There is propaganda on the web about Trypophobic skin diseases. It is wrong because there is no such medical case reported across the globe. Allegedly Trypophobia is a psychological disorder.

Stimulators or Triggers

  • Honeycombs
  • Strawberries
  • Corals
  • Bubbles
  • Seed pods of lotus
  • Aluminum Foam
  • Images of clustered holes
  • Trypophobic photoshopped images on human skin
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pomegranates
  • Reptiles with spotted skin (like a snake)
  • Amphibians (frogs), mammals and insects with dotted and porous skin
  • Sponges
  • Beehive
  • Water condensation

Trypophobia: Research & study

After consistent and diverse research, it is still debatable if trypophobia should be classified as a real phobia. Many people gave various logic to validate this psychological condition. It is considered as an extension of biological and psychological fear of harmful things such as dangerous animals and some shapes like lotus seed pod.

However, things like high contrast colors in a specific graphic arrangement can trigger the symptoms of this phobia. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual suggests that analyzing the number of people suffering from this condition, trypophobia needs more research.

Causes of Trypophobia

  • Past Experiences: In many cases, individuals get subjected to measles, rashes, pox, bee sting or spider licks in the past. Hence, the person imagines the appearance of the holes and pores and eventually leading to trypophobia.
  • DNA: It is also believed that one of the characteristics of human DNA is to feel repulsive by structures or shapes of repeated patterns. Trypophobia could be the genetic reason behind the fear.
  • Instincts: Every individual has specific instincts that help them stay in a safe condition. Instincts are the factor that prepares the mind to synchronize with some shapes or patterns indicating danger or fear. The conditioning of this relation can give rise to the fear of certain images and shapes. Hence, it could be the cause of trypophobia.
  • Suspicion: People remain suspicious about the holes and bumps that things can crawl or creep out of them like an insect or reptile. This unknown fear results to feel them disgusting and sick.

Symptoms

The symptoms can only be seen in an individual when he/she gets exposed to the triggers such as an object with holes and irregular pattern. General symptoms include:

  • Repulsed feeling
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Shivering
  • Goosebumps
  • Panic attacks
  • Eyestrain
  • Itchiness
  • Visual discomfort
  • Distortion and illusions
  • Sensation skin crawling
  • Distress

Diagnosis

Phobia is a term that officially does not get recognition by any medical means or tools. There is no specific Trypophobic test. Normally, the doctor asks about the symptoms, psychiatric condition, and experiences of the Trypophobic person. This phobia is not diagnosable and doctors generally trace the medical and behavioral history to get more insights.

  • Trypophobia Test Picture: This test involves exposure of trypophobic person to the photoshopped images of tiny holes on the skin or the pictures of corals, lotus seed pod, beehives and any other image representing a cluster of holes.
  • Lotus Seed Pod Phobia Test: An individual gets exposed to the actual lotus seed pod after which the reaction of that person is observed.

Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The therapy involves a conversation between a counselor or therapist and phobic person. This ‘talk’ therapy is an effective method to observe the feelings, thought and behavior of a Trypophobic patient. After the mutual interactive session, the counselor can advise and encourage them on how they can cope up with Trypophobia.

Changes in lifestyle

Slight change in daily routine reduces the phobia impact and controls depression. For instance, exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding caffeine and alcohol consumption, a good amount of sleep every day, etc. are some healthy modifications in lifestyle one needs to apply.

Relaxation Therapy

Deep breathing, yoga, and other visualization methods are part of relaxation technique.

Exposure Therapy (desensitization)

The process involves exposure to the phobia in minute doses. The therapist carries this to counter the hypersensitivity to their phobia.

Self-help group

These are the support groups that connect people with the same issues of phobia or any particular disorder. Self-help groups are very helpful to treat the trypophobia as they encourage the person for overcoming the issue collectively. They develop a feeling of ‘you are not alone’ in an individual.

Medications

Trypophohobia is not a phobia to be cured by medicines. But the side effects and symptoms like anxiety, distress, shuddering, etc. can be controlled by prescribed medications which include:

  • Tranquilizers
  • Beta-blockers
  • Anti-depressants
  • Sedatives

Neuro-linguistic programming

This therapy involves a psychological approach to analyze thoughts, communication and behavioral approach of the patient by various techniques. NLP exposes the person to the fear object to desensitize the hypersensitivity.

Modeling

It is a technique in which the therapist allows the patient to observe the reactions of non-trypophobic. The process develops a perception in a patient that there are other responses to the objects like a cluster of tiny holes. Therefore, it helps them to learn the better reactions in similar situations and tends to decrease the fear by observing other people.

Combination therapy

It includes a combination of behavioral and cognitive therapy. This therapy prepares the patient to cope with fear as well as learn the nuances to react normally when encountered to the fear object.

Flooding

The process of immersing or engaging the person with strong stimuli of phobia is carried out to desensitize the patient. Further, this process continues until the reaction become normal to the objects. For positive consequence, relaxation is used along with this therapy.

Prognosis

Avoiding triggers in everyday life and better lifestyle adaptation is beneficial for a healthy outlook. Sometimes confronting one’s phobia, again and again, makes the person desensitized and results in a satisfactory outcome. If one is observing himself/herself regularly and finds some symptoms of being Trypophobic, then he/she should consult the doctor immediately.

References

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