From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

Trypophobia[1] (/ˌtrpəˈfbiə/, from the Greek: τρύπα trýpa "hole" and φόβος phóbos "fear") is the alleged pathological fear of objects with irregular patterns of holes, such as beehives, ant hills and lotus seed heads. Thousands of people claim to have the condition,[2] but it is not recognized as a condition in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or other scientific literature.[3][2] The term was coined in 2005.[3]


British academics Arnold Wilkins and Geoff Cole, who claim to be the first to scientifically investigate trypophobia, believe the reaction to be based on a biological revulsion, rather than a learned cultural fear.[2] In a research article they wrote for Psychological Science, Wilkins and Cole discussed that the reaction is based on a brain response that associates the shapes with danger. The type of shapes that elicit a reaction were stated to include clustered holes in skin, meat, wood, coral, sponges, mould, dried seed pods, honeycomb, soap, cheese, soil, plants, wounds and bubbles and that observing these shapes made some individuals state that they felt that their skin is crawling, shudder, feel itchy, experience panic attacks, sweat, palpitate and feel physically sick. Some stated reasons behind this fear are that the holes seem "disgusting and gross" or that "something might be living inside those holes".[4][5]

Using data and information from, Wilkins and Cole analyzed example images and concluded that the images had "unique characteristics".[6] Wilkins and Cole concluded that the reaction behind the phobia was an "unconscious reflex reaction" based on a "primitive portion of the brain that associates the image with something dangerous".[4][7]


Jablonski explains trypophobia in terms of existential symbolism. A hole is a package of nothing, a conspicuous manifestation of non-existence surrounded by existence, the physical occurrence of the two most fundamental metaphysical categories side by side. As such, it raises the ultimate question: Why is there anything at all rather than nothing?[8]


  1. ^ Brown, K. Williams (11 December 2010). "The improbable horror of clusters". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Thomas, Gregory (October 1, 2012). "Phobia about holes is not officially recognized, but U.K. scientists look into it". Washington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Abbasi, Jennifer (July 25, 2011). "Is Trypophobia a Real Phobia?". Popular Science. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Danielle Elliot (September 5, 2013). "Understanding trypophobia: Why some people fear holes". CBS News. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  5. ^ Rose Eveleth (September 5, 2013). "Trypophobia Is a Fear of Holes". Smithsonian. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  6. ^ Joe Palca (September 4, 2013). "The Inside Story On The Fear Of Holes". NPR. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ Cole, Geoff G.; Wilkins, Arnold J. (2013). "Fear of Holes". Psychological Science (SAGE Publications) 24 (10): 1–6. doi:10.1177/0956797613484937. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ Jablonski, Petronius (November 5, 2013). Some Call It Trypophobia. Chandelier Press. Retrieved November 14, 2014.