A now defunct website, trypophobia.com, describes the phenomenon with videos and images. Images containing clusters of holes are presented in an arrangement that claims to rank the likelihood they will induce fear. Early images in the series include fruits such as oranges and pomegranates. Then, clusters of holes with a possible association with danger are presented, such as honeycombs, frogs, and insects and arachnids. Finally, images feature wounds and diseases. Using data from the site, Wilkins and Cole analyzed example images and believe that the images had “unique characteristics”. They state 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”. In another research article, Le, Cole and Wilkins developed a symptom questionnaire that they say can be used to identify trypophobia.
Trypophobia is the fear of objects with small, clustered holes. Many people claim to suffer from the affliction, while it is not recognized by American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But what is it? Why do clusters of holes cause disgust, revulsion, even terror in some people? According to Dr. Geoff Cole and Professor Arnold Wilkins’ findings in Psychological Science, the answer may lie…in evolution! Do you suffer from trypophobia? What do you think the fear stems from? Kim Horcher and Tim Frisch discuss the affliction, which Kim happens to have.