Trypophobia: What it is and how to overcome it

You may have heard of Trypophobia before, perhaps through social media or conversations with friends. But what exactly is it? Trypophobia is an irrational and often extreme fear or disgust response triggered by specific patterns or images. These patterns typically consist of clustered holes, bumps, or shapes that resemble organic structures such as honeycombs, lotus seeds, or barnacle clusters. While some people may find these patterns simply unattractive or uncomfortable, individuals with this condition experience intense fear, anxiety, and even panic attacks when exposed to them.

Prevalence and Symptoms of Trypophobia

This phobia is a relatively new addition to the vast array of phobias affecting individuals worldwide. Although its prevalence is not well-documented, studies suggest that trypophobia appears to be more common than previously thought. Many people may not even be aware that their unease or discomfort with hole patterns indicates trypophobia.

The symptoms experienced by individuals with trypophobia can vary in intensity. Common symptoms include increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, nausea, feeling of dread or panic, and an overwhelming urge to avoid or escape the triggering stimulus. These symptoms can significantly impact daily life, making it difficult individuals with trypophobia to engage in activities or environments where they may encounter patterns.

Causes of Trypophobia:

The exact causes are still not definitively understood. Various theories have emerged to explain the origins of this phobia. One theory suggests that trypophobia may have evolutionary roots, where the fears associated with holes were once a signal of danger or potential harm. Another theory proposes that trypophobia may be a learned response, acquired through negative experiences or conditioning.

Recent scientific research has shed light on the brain’s response to these repetitive patterns. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that trypophobic individuals exhibited increased activation in brain regions associated with disgust, fear, and visual processing when exposed to hole patterns. This research suggests that trypophobia may have a neurological basis.

Effective Treatment Options for Trypophobia:

If you or someone you know is struggling with trypophobia, it is essential to know that there are effective treatment options available. Seeking professional help from a therapist or psychologist can make a significant difference in managing and overcoming this phobia. Let’s explore some of the treatment approaches that have shown promise in helping individuals with trypophobia.

1. Exposure Therapy: This form of therapy involves gradually exposing individuals to their fear triggers in a controlled and safe environment. Through repeated exposure, individuals can learn to associate the trigger with less fear and anxiety. Exposure therapy can be done with a therapist or even through virtual reality simulations.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT aims to change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with trypophobia. A therapist trained in CBT can help individuals identify and challenge irrational beliefs about hole patterns, helping them develop healthier coping mechanisms.

3. Hypnotherapy: This form of therapy can help uncover the root cause of the issue so it can be released and reframed so that holes or the offending patterns are seen as neutral and nothing to fear.

4. Self-Help Techniques: While professional help is recommended for severe trypophobia, there are self-help techniques that individuals can try on their own. These may include relaxation exercises, deep breathing techniques, and gradually exposing oneself to trigger images or patterns at a pace that feels manageable. However, it’s crucial to be cautious and consult with a professional if symptoms worsen or become unmanageable.


If you or someone you know is living with trypophobia, it is crucial to understand the nature of this condition and seek professional help. Triggers may vary from person to person, but the fear and anxiety experienced are real and valid. By educating ourselves about trypophobia, we can develop empathy and support those struggling with this condition. Remember, it is essential to seek professional assistance when needed, as trained therapists can provide effective treatments and guidance towards overcoming trypophobia. Let’s work together to create a world where everyone feels heard and supported, regardless of their fears and anxieties. Check out our Services Page to see how we can support you.

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