Halloween is a wonderful time for kids and adults alike. The unique parties for adults and of course, trick or treat for the children. Unfortunately, Halloween sometimes is a source of anxiety for individuals who have fears of spiders (arachnophobia), fear of ghosts (phasmophobia) or fear of the dark (achluophobia) to name a few. Some people aren’t as lucky.
Now, while having these phobias may seem strange for most people, it is definitely a real phenomenon and individuals who suffer from these phobias often feel paralyzing fear when they come face to face with the object of their fear. We are familiar with certain phobias like the ones mentioned earlier and these seem somewhat rational fears to the average person, however; it is not the case for some individuals.
Have you ever heard of trypophobia? If you check the typophobia wiki page, you’ll see it is defined as the irrational fear of clusters or fear of holes. The word, trypophobia is derived from the Greek word, trypo, which means boring holes and phobia, which means morbid fear.
While trypophobia is not considered to be a valid mental disorder by experts in the field, it is identified as the second most popular or common phobia, next to xylophobia or the fear of wooden objects. The rationale behind trypophobia not being recognized as a valid phobia or mental disorder is that it is deemed to be more of an aversion to holes or clusters rather than an actual fear of clusters or fear of holes.
You might be wondering why that is so. Well, the common source of anxiety for individuals suffering from trypophobia is usually because of biological things like those on a lotus seed. This fear of clusters or fear of holes for people suffering from trypophobia does not usually stem from artificial or man-made structures. Hence, one can say that trypophobia is not a general fear of clusters or fear of holes but a selective fear of clusters or fear of holes wherein the fear is focused on natural entities like holes on wood. This is why trypophobia is largely seen as an aversion rather than a phobia.
However, people still argue that trypophobia should be considered to be a true and valid phobia. So why isn’t it considered one?
Experts state that for something to be categorized as a phobia, it must interfere with a person’s regular habit. This is largely untrue to people who suffer from trypophobia. Individuals who suffer from trypophobia express that whenever they encounter these clusters of holes, it makes their skin crawl and stomach turn. In some instances, it can even trigger itchy skin, nausea and just a typical feeling of distress. In short, it’s a like pregnant woman experiencing morning sickness. There’s nothing paralyzing about this fear of clusters or fear of holes for its sufferers and this is why it is not considered to be a true phobia.
Moreover, experts states that individuals who suffer trypophobia were unaware that they have this fear of clusters or fear of holes until they read about it or visited a certain website. Hence, they concluded that trypophobia is brought about by influenced from other people. Psychologists believe that another person’s aversion may affect your perspective hence; it is believed to be not a true phobia.
While although it is not unbelievable that trypophobia exists, the rationale behind why people have this irrational fear of clusters or fear of holes is still unknown until now. Some experts attribute it to resembling symptoms of a contagious disease while some remember horrific childhood experiences revolving around organic clusters or holes. There is still much we need to learn about trypophobia.
However, what we do know for certain right now is that trypophobia was coined by an Irish blogger named, Louise. Louise, along with Trypophobia.com founder, Masai Andrews, and the Trypophobia Facebook page, have petitioned Oxford English Dictionary to include the word, trypophobia, but has been declined until such time that the word, trypophobia, receives multiple request to be included in the dictionary and recommendations from the academe.
Until recently, the trypophobia wiki page keeps getting deleted because the people at Wikipedia think that it is a hoax. As of press time, the trypophobia wiki page exists but it is so brief that little can be learned from it.
Whether or not you believe in the existence of the fear of clusters or fear of holes, it is entirely up to you at this point especially since the scientific community won’t be backing you up on this one. There is a video available for individuals to test if they have trypophobia. The two-minute plus video on trypophobia consists of a short narration of the instruction on how to conduct the test and the rest are photos with varying degree of severity of clusters and holes. It aims to find out at which point in the photos your itch reflexes hit.
Now the video has an important disclaimer. The narrator states that if you do feel an itch at any point in the video, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suffering from trypophobia. With that being said, it leaves one to wonder how this is a scientific way to gauge if one suffers from trypophobia. It is no surprise that the scientific and medical community distances itself from trypophobia. 45
Despite that, there apparently a trypophobia therapy that one can do to manage the debilitating fear. There are many schools of thought to help manage the fear of clusters or fear of holes like behavioral therapy and relaxation therapy but these “cures” are not recognized by the medical or scientific community as of yet so you are undertaking it at your own risks.
Whether or not trypophobia is a valid phobia, it is important to remember that fear is just that. Fear. A Japanese proverb sums this thought better, Fear is only as deep as the mind allows. Regardless of whether you are suffering from arachnophobia or trypophobia, psychologists would tell that it is all in your head.