Trypophobia is the fear of holes that are closely packed together. People who suffer from this phobia get jittery quite uneasy when they look at surfaces that have small holes packed close together. An example is where the surface of honeycomb triggers feelings of discomfort. Studies on this phobia is limited and opinions are spilt on whether it should be classified as a phobia or not.
When a person suffering from trypophobia sees a trigger they will first become pale then begin sweating. They then begin having an allergic reaction which manifests as redness of the skin, itching and goosebumps. Soon the person begins suffering from the symptoms of an anxiety attack which include: chest pain, chills or having elevated temperatures, feeling of impending doom, choking feelings and heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, nervousness, headaches, dizziness, trembling and sweating.
There are various theories that try to explain the cause of trypophobia. All the theories agree on the fact that the person suffering from trypophobia associates the triggers to disease, danger or wounds as an innate response or due to conditioning and priming. One of the theories states that this fear is due to evolution which occurs when people are exposed to objects that have holes poked in them so many times such that the brain associates such clustered small holes to something dangerous.
Another theory states that these phobias stem from deep-rooted emotional issues. These can be experiences from one’s childhood like bee stings that one suffered from, hence when they see a honeycomb they associate it with the bee sting.
The third theory notes that this fear can result from organic objects like skin rashes or blisters after suffering from measles or chicken pox.
Apart from the triggers stated above, animals like insects, mammals or any other creatures that have spotted fur or skins can trigger trypophobia.
In order to diagnose a phobia, the psychiatrist needs to get medical information regarding the phobia from your medical history. Even though this phobia has not yet been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association there are some tests that can be done to ascertain it. One of these tests involves exposing the client to pictures that have image triggers. If the image triggers a response in the client then it affirms the diagnosis that the client has trypophobia. There are many ways to conduct this test but there are two most common ways which are:
Phobias can be treated in many ways. The most effective way to treat a phobia is by exposure therapy. This focuses on modifying a person’s response to the trigger. The other effective method is cognitive behaviour therapy.
Exposure therapy is used to not only manage but also treat phobias. The individual is exposed to objects that they fear over and over again. Due to the repeated exposure the fear of the object reduces with time.
The therapy combines both exposure therapy and other treatment modalities to manage the anxiety caused by the triggers and to prevent one from feeling helpless. The main aim of this therapy is to alter the destructive perception that the client has of the trigger in order to alleviate the symptoms.
There are also other treatment modalities that can be used to treat trypophobia which are discussed below.
Apart from going for therapy, the person can adopt some lifestyle changes that will help reduce the occurrence of the panic attacks.