Researchers Explain Why Trypophobia Images Gives People The Creeps
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When it comes to phobias there's the usual suspects such as clowns, heights and spiders - one slightly less common one you may not have heard of is trypophobia, which reportedly affects about 11 percent of the population.
If you have it, looking at things with clusters of holes or bumps will give you the heebie jeebies - reactions vary from just feeling a bit 'off' to causing a full-on panic attack or even throwing up. Pleasant.
There's been some research into trypophobia, which isn't officially recognised as a phobia by American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, at the moment.
One study by psychologists Arnold Wilkins and Geoff Cole of the University of Essex found that there could be a pretty sensible reason why these images give some people the creeps.
According to the researchers, many of the world's most deadly and poisonous animals have clusters of holes and bumps on their skin - animals such as the blue ringed octopus, which, as the name suggests, have a ringed pattern on their skins.
Meanwhile, University of Kent postgraduate researcher Tom Kupfer has an additional theory, telling CNN: "Those images look to me like they would be perceived as cues to infectious disease or parasites. I wouldn't be surprised if this is actually a disorder based on disgust and disease avoidance."
He then went on to point out that infectious diseases such as smallpox and measles show up in clusters on the skin.
He continued: "Smallpox alone killed millions of millions of people, so if a human ancestor was predisposed to attend to those bumps, to dislike them and stay away from them, that could provide a survival advantage."
However, not everyone is convinced that a 'dislike' to clusters of holes is even a phobia. Speaking to NPR, psychiatrist Carol Mathews said: "There might really be people out there with phobias to holes, because people can really have a phobia to anything, but just reading what's on the Internet, that doesn't seem to be what people actually have."
She added that most people don't have 'genuine fear' of these images, they just find them a bit gross.
For it to be classed as official phobia by the American Psychiatric Association it would need to interfere 'significantly with the person's normal routine'.