Fear of small holes is scientifically known as “Trypophobia”. It is an aversion or fear of clusters of small holes, bumps or patters. Whenever people infected with Trypophobia see this kind of clusters, they go through symptoms of fear or disgust.
Early reports of Trypophobia were first described in an online forum in 2005 but it hasn’t been acknowledged as a distinct diagnosis in the DMS-5. Though this phobia isn’t included in the DMS-5, it still would fall under the broad classification of specific phobias if the symptoms lead to any kind of impairment or disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
Trypophobia often presents itself with an autonomic nervous system response. Those who have Trypophobia, might suffer from similar symptoms to those of other specific phobias. After they see clusters of holes or bumps whether it's in a person or an image, they might go through these following symptoms:
- Feelings of revulsion
- Experiences anxiety
- Breathes rapidly
- Unregulated sweating
- Feels nausea
- Feels their skin is itching or crawling
- Sometimes vomit
- Undergoes panic attacks
- Goes through visual discomfort such as eyestrains, illusions, distortions, etc.
Causes of Fear of Small Holes
Though research on trypophobia is still quite limited, there are some theories about why it happens. Among them, the most popular theory is that this phobia is an evolutionary response to things that have a link with disease or danger. For example, parasites, diseased skin, and other contagious situations may be identified by such holes or bumps.
This theory indicates that this phobia has an evolutionary foundation. There is another popular theory that suggests that clustered holes often share a near aspect of skin and coat patterns of some poisonous animals such as certain types of snakes, spiders, insects, etc.
When a person without this condition sees a honeycomb; which is also a common trigger object, he/she immediately thinks of bees or honey. However, when a person with trypophobia gets a view of a honeycomb, he/she inertly thinks of dangerous organisms that share the same visual traits of a honeycomb, for example, rattlesnakes. Though they are not consciously aware of this relation, it may be the reason why they feel extreme fear or disgust in this condition.
Moreover, in a 2017 study research, participants had to connect hole-patterns with skin transmitted pathogens. Among them, many have reported that they had felt their skin was itching and crawling when they saw such patterns. Therefore, it can be said that association with contagious pathogens can also cause this phobia.
How to treat the Fear of Small Holes?
No specific, effective treatment has been discovered for this condition yet. Still, many treatments that are used for some specific phobias can also be used for reducing this phobia, such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CTB), relaxation techniques, etc.
Exposure therapy involves progressively exposing a person to their fear or trigger object. This process is usually done very gradually. In this process, you may start by imagining what you are fearful of, then seeing a picture of the fear or trigger object and finally being near or touching the object without any hesitation or feeling any anxiety.