How people who suffer from it describe trypophobia (Shutterstock)

You could say that Trypophobia, sometimes called a repeating pattern phobia or fear of holes, is the fear or repulsion generated by looking at or being near geometric figures that are close together, especially small holes and very small rectangles and little distance from each other.

It is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, but the number of people who have rejection, repulsion and / or fear of objects with small agglomerated holes, such as those seen, is undoubtedly important. in honeycombs, anthills, certain fungi and the fruits of the lotus. At the end of this note, 8 images are included to know if a person is trypophobic.

Julia Magnin (26), graduate in Public and Institutional Relations and coordinator of corporate volunteering for an energy company, is trypophobic and experiences it as a repulsion towards this type of agglutinated geometric images: « In my case It is not a phobia itself, but it is disgust, rejection, discomfort, I’m afraid that these patterns will stay on my skin”.

« For example, if I see bubbles, I am afraid to touch them and that my skin stays like that, as if it would infect me, so to speak, that’s why my burn disgusts me so much, » he adds. Is that the young woman a few days ago burned her leg with a stove and had a mark on her own body that reminds her of these agglomerated figures.

Julia Magnin was burned by the stove and the pain was double, since a mark was left on her skin that generates trypophobia (Photo: Courtesy Julia Magnin)

For Julia, “it may be something primitive, perhaps before our ancestors realized the poison in something just by looking at it and they went into a state of alert”.

Consulted by Infobae Regarding when she realized she suffered from trypophobia, Julia explained: “It was a can of tuna that I found in a dune that was all made bubbles by the sun. First I grabbed it because I could see that something was glowing, but I didn’t know what it was. And when I saw it and touched it, I was really bad, I threw it as far as I could and it altered the situation a lot. The worst thing that happened to me was with a honeycomb, already uninhabited, that my brother brought home, there I cried, and I broke the whole honeycomb because it made me very bad to see it.

Felipe Lezcano (28), also a graduate in Public and Institutional Relations and communications advisor, He is close friends with Julia, and among the many things they share is the fact that they are both trypophobic. In this sense, the young man told Infobae: « Mine started when I was a child, it happened to me a lot when I came across certain structures with shapes that resemble what today I can identify as trypophobia, and in those moments I felt a constant rejection of those kinds of forms that persist today ”.

“My biggest fear regarding that was always that these figures would stick to my skin, I was very afraid to find that suddenly my skin had holes next to each other in a way as symmetrically as possible, I was very panicked that somehow these holes or figures would appear in me”He added.

Many of those affected agree that more than a phobia, trypophobia is a rejection or repulsion of small geometric images together and agglutinated (Shutterstock)

As specified by Felipe, “the moment I come across something that has a similar shape and grouped together with other similar objects, the bigger the little circles, in my case it is worse and causes me more rejection, I even feel that it is going to stick to my skin and that those tiny circles are going to start to open on my own skin, it’s a horrible feeling”.

« This rejection really took me a long time to identify and know well what it was about, but over time I was able to see that my fear happened because those patterns were ‘contagious’ in my body, and My biggest fear is to one day have a problem, infection or skin condition that generates these types of holes or structures, with this aspect, I think I could not bear it directly”.

Regarding how he realized that this revulsion was important, Felipe specified: “I began to realize the deep rejection that it generated in me, beyond the fact that at first I did not understand well what it was about, my hunger went away and I lost completely the desire to eat, when for some reason I saw some type of these structures, with these forms, and immediately it generated a certain anguish that automatically closed my stomach « 

My greatest fear is to one day have a problem, infection or skin condition that generates these types of holes or structures, with this aspect, I think I could not bear it directly

For Bethlehem Mosna (27), who studies Medicine at the UBA, his first contact with trypophobia, “It was something casual, surfing the Internet about 10 years ago, I came across a note about this phobia and it had a photo of holes in a person’s skin from which worms emerged”.

« It causes me nausea and chills, plus yes or yes I have to look away and take the image quickly”, He added in dialogue with this medium.

Is there a particular way that repels you more? Faced with this question, the young woman explained: “All the grooves / holes that are in parts of the body generate a lot of rejection in me, and with some type of insect and / or worm, and although I know that they are digitally retouched images, I can’t help feeling a lot of revulsion. Also, in my case, trypophobia accentuates my phobia of spiders, due to their multiple pairs of eyes”.

Anxiety disorders are many and very common, it is a topic that is talked about a lot and little is known

In the case of Nicolas Marcigliano (28), UTN electrical engineering student, “more than suffering, it is a strange sensation that I feel with this type of figures or images, where when I was younger, with some dry branches of some trees -particularly I don’t know what tree it was- that were on the floor and had geometric shapes on the outside, and inside the shapes they seemed to have other things inside. That was one of the first times I noticed that it gave me a certain ‘thing’ feeling. As a teenager I came across a photo from the Internet, a flower, and that’s when I looked a little more on the subject.

“From then on, I’ve only seen it in images, and not all of them give me that feeling. It’s a feeling that I want to see it even though I know I dislike it when I see it, physically I get goosebumps and I start to feel something go up my spine”, He detailed.

For Nicolás, « it is not fear, but I know that I would not touch something like that and I would avoid having it around. » « The photoshopped images that are on the Internet of human parts, such as elbows, hands, with the shapes made, disturb me a lot to look at them and it gives me that feeling that runs through my body, particularly if there is something that comes out or is inside these forms, it is what I reject the most; However, it intrigues me and I want to see”.

In dialogue with Infobae, he Head of the Psychology Service of the Municipal Sanatorium Dr. Julio Méndez and coordinator of healthcare activities at Borda hospital, Ricardo Antonowicz (MN 11556), explained: “The phobia has for us the value of a symptom that divides the space into two places: one in which I am free of anguish and another where the anguish is triggered. The phobia does not solve, the phobia denounces what does not work in the psychic structure. The important thing is to listen to what the phobia says and not suppress it by administering medications. There are many phobic modalities ”.

“There is not a single phobia. Virtually everyone has a phobia. The phobia has to do with the object. There are no pure cases but neurotic symptoms. The phobia tries to locate the distress somewhere. Trypophobia denounces fear of emptiness, of being trapped in a hole that blocks the possibility of desiring and expresses the fear that subjectivity will be trapped in that tiny space ”, asserted the especialsita.

According to Antonowicz, « there is not a single phobia. Almost everyone has some phobia »

For his part, for him psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, former member of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association (APA) doctor Pedro Horvat (M.N. 70,936), “all phobias work with the same mechanism, through displacement”. What does this mean? As Horvat specified, there is a famous clinical case of Sigmund Freud in which a father was walking hand in hand with a little boy, down the street, and the father was very angry and was challenging him, -this true story that happened in Vienna in 1900 – While the father yelled at the son, at that moment a coachman loses control and the horse that was pulling him falls and the cart falls on top of the horse, for which the boy was terrified by the scene. When he grew up, the son of this gentleman suffered from terror of horses, and he consulted doctor Freud and in the analysis he discovers that it was actually a displacement, what had caused him so much fear of the scene was not the surprise, but what was associated with the anger of his dad, and that the real conflict was with his father, who at that moment yelled at him and threatened him.

« The mechanism of the phobia is displacement, there is an original image or situation, repressed and that distresses me, and fear moves to another, either by direct association, in the sense that the images resemble the meanings; or by some connection of meaning or by a temporal connection as happened with the example of Freud’s horse ”, explained the expert.

« In the case of geometric figures, you would tend to think that it is a displacement by association of body images, because something, perhaps in the vision of certain corporal images, very frequently sexual or of another type, generates anguish, that represses, and moves on something « , added Horvat to Infobae.

For the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, “one must accept certain definitions of a general nature and look at the person in particular, each case, because there are as many phobias as there are people, theoretically there could be a phobia of anything, since what matters is on what the anguish moves”.

Some scientists have found that even those who are not repulsed by these types of trypophobic images often feel uncomfortable looking at a bunch of tiny holes together.. Just as lines can cause headaches and flickering lights that can induce seizures, a group of holes could have psychological effects on the brain, generating nausea, discomfort, revulsion. A controversial case happened in the presentation of the Iphone 11, where many users reported having felt trypophobia with the triple camera of the mobile device.

To overcome phobias, we must be determined, not be disappointed if changes take time to appear, value all our progress and set clear and possible goals.

The investigator, Arnols wilkinsA professor emeritus at the University of Essex, theorizes that the mathematical principles in the patterns require the brain to use more oxygen and energy, which can be stressful.

« These images have the same statistical properties and are inherently difficult for the brain to process, in part because we have evolved to look at full images in nature.Wilkins said in an interview with the Washington Post. « We know that images are difficult to process computationally by neurons that are forced to use more brain energy. »

Photos of honeycombs and strawberries – common sources of horrors for people with trypophobia – also share mathematical characteristics with more sinister sights like mold or skin lesions.

Other researchers suggest that the discomfort could come from an innate drive to prevent infectious diseases and contaminated food.. Some have even created the hypothesis that fear could come from the evolution of a response to dangerous animals such as poison frogs and insects, which frequently show patterns similar to those trypophobic photos.


Photos: Shutterstock


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