Trypophobia is an irrational fear of holes. It isn’t real…I mean, ok it is. I mean the disease isn’t real but…it depends how you look at it. Now phobia is a marked and persistent fear of a specific object or situation which provokes anxiety.

However, while trypophobia isn’t recognized as a real phobia, a new study shows that the anxiety sure is real. So what is trypophobia?

Trypophobia is a fear of holes, so if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then you might be among the trypophobics.

lotus podA study was done in UK and it found that 11% of males and 18% of females found an image of a lotus seed pod uncomfortable or repulsive. The study was rather small, only 200 people. Although this is a rather small study size, it is interesting because there are no actual studies on trypophobia.

The researches admit that part of the reason they did the study at all was the internet buzz that has built up around this phobia. If you want to be creeped out, then do a quick image search for trypophobia after reading this article.

Looking at it scientifically, scientists have come to a number of conclusions—namely that some dangerous animals and plants have “spectral characteristics” that trigger these tripophobic feelings. Basically, the researchers think that things that we know trigger trypophobia also have similar visual characteristics to dangerous plants and animals in nature.

blue ring octopusFor example, the researchers analyzed the look of this super poisonous blue ring octopus. When they analyzed it mathematically, it has similarity to a lotus seed pod, or bubbles, or condensation.

They compared a bunch of these spectral characteristics and found enough mathematical similarities that perhaps trypophobia is some kind of evolutionary mechanism to protect us from these dangerous objects in nature.

Personally, I’m skeptical for two reasons: One, if you decide to do an image search you will see a lot of grossness inspiring revulsion and discomfort: skin fungus is one of them and that makes sense, it’s gross. But most of the results are people with Photoshop holes in them. That’s not a phobia. That’s just gross. It’s people basically designing things to be gross. Second, people claim honeycombs trigger trypophobia in spite the evolutionary danger of bees. The thing is bees aren’t going to kill you either. They just sting and it hurts. But ancient humans were likely less wussy. A bee sting or three is not going to kill you unless you are actually one of the 3% of humans who are allergic to bee venom.

So, what do you think? Trypophobia is real or fake? Have you heard about it before?

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