Trypophobia refers to the fear of small clusters of holes such as found in pancakes and lotus.
Arnold Wilkins and Geoff Cole of the University of Essex’s Centre for Brain Science were the first scientists to publish on the phenomenon of trypophobia.
They believe the reaction is based on a biological revulsion, rather than a learned cultural fear.
In a 2013 article in Psychological Science, Wilkins and Cole wrote that the reaction is based on a brain response that associates the shapes with danger.
Upon seeing these shapes, some people said they shuddered, felt their skin crawl, experienced panic attacks, sweated, palpitated, and felt nauseated or itchy. Some said the holes seemed “disgusting and gross” or that “something might be living inside those holes.”
However, on blogs and in internet forums, thousands of people claim to have trypophobia.
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.”
According to Mathews, most people writing online are likely disgusted by these types of images without meeting criteria for a real phobia.
We are disgusted too with certain small clusters but that won’t make us give up on pancakes.