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What is trypophobia: an illness or simply fear?

Sometimes it happens that the most common feeling of squeamishness or aversion to something increases the severity of this ailment. With trypophobia this is exactly what has happened - a fairly common aversion to holes, open cavities, bubbles and other cluster holes in many people has taken such hypertrophied forms that there are real clinical signs of phobias.


Is trypophobia an illness or a fear?

The term " trypophobia" originated not so long ago - in 2005. It comes from two Greek words: "trŷpa” meaning holes and "phóbos” meaning fear. It is a relatively new phobia, which has not yet been recognised by conventional medicine, and which affects about 10% of the world's population, according to statistics. The clinical diagnosis is very much dependent on the personality and empathic level of the individual.

The phobia is characterised by nervous trembling, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of coordination, itching and a general sense of discomfort. Most often, during acute attacks, the sight of an object gives rise to tremors on the skin, an increased heart rate and difficulty in breathing.

The objects of fear in trypophobia are: 

- openings in any living organism, including animal and human tissue:

- skin blackheads, acne, enlarged pores, skin wounds, openings in various glands and others;

- holes in foodstuffs, including honeycomb, holes in cheese, fruit and vegetables, bread, etc.;

- holes in various plants, e.g. corn, bean pods, seeds;

- holes in rocks and fossils;

- holes caused by living organisms (caterpillars, larvae, worms, etc.).


Trypophobia: Causes of the condition

Trypophobia, as well as many phobias are developed in difficult to explain and spontaneous causes. Very often, however, there are psychological, hereditary, age or cultural explanations for the emergence of this kind of phobia.

The cultural factors that cause the development of trypophobia are the opinions and attitudes that arise in certain cultural associations or groups. Often this phobia manifests itself in a strictly defined social situation. In some cases, trypophobia is characterised by a hereditary predisposition.

Family relationships are at the origin of the phobia and external events in the family life influence its progression. Often, childhood traumas are the cause of the aversion to the cluster holes. It can also happen that the trypophobia manifests itself after some time, with age. In this case, its manifestations depend on life experiences and situations experienced. It is well known that as one grows older, one tends to develop phobias.


Treatment of trypophobia

In connection with the fact that there is no clinical diagnosis for trypophobia, we can classify it as anxiety and compulsion. Accordingly, the methods and means of treatment are the same as for other phobias. The main task of the psychotherapist is to restore the patient's normal physical and mental condition in case of stimuli (so-called desensitisation).

For this purpose, the following method of psychological correction is often used: the patient is shown a certain soothing image, which stabilizes the condition of calmness. The patient is then shown a picture of an object with cluster holes. After a while, by repeating these manipulations, the doctor will make the patient gradually lose the feeling of squeamishness and disgust. A feeling of inner comfort is restored.

In the case of mental disorders or somatic disorders, anti-allergic and sedative medication is prescribed. In severe cases of spasms, convulsions and significant pain, in-patient treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, anticonvulsants and sedatives is used.

Fortunately, such extreme measures are very rarely called for. It is much more common to use the classical treatment of trypophobia, which includes various breathing relaxation exercises.


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