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The Most Common Phobia You Have Never Heard Of: Holes

hole phobia

When it comes to phobias, holes rarely make the long list people provide. Yet, a fear of holes, known as trypophobia, is actually one of the most common unknown phobias out there.

Have you ever looked at a newly aerated ground where the soil has been removed to create a mass of holes in your yard and felt physically ill? Have you tossed an Aero chocolate bar out because the sight of the bubbles makes you nauseous? Have you found the sight of a sponge absolutely irritating? You’re not alone. Most people feel at least slight discomfort when faced with the sight of a mass of holes, no matter what it may be.

Why would such a phobia exist, however?
For years, it was a mystery. Your surrounding might deem it weird, wonder at your sanity or try to diagnose you with some form of disorder that affects the mind. A study of late has proven it’s a natural evolutionary response, however. After all, humans had to develop some form of physical response to protect them from poisonous beings.

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At this point, one might be lost. How are poisonous creatures related to holes? The response was discovered by University of Essex psychology researcher Geoff Cole, after encountering a man who described his response to the sight of holes as such: “[I] can’t really face small, irregularly or asymmetrically placed holes, they make me like, throw up in my mouth, cry a little bit, and shake all over, deeply.” This might seem excessively drastic, extremely dramatic and positively ludicrous, but the truth is that it’s a fact that the phobia can cause migraines, panic attacks, hot sweats and a racing heart. And all because the brain believes you might be staring at a poisonous animal like a blue-ringed octopus, deathstalker scorpion or king cobra.

You are still wondering about the connection. After all, these animals don’t look like a sponge or Aero chocolate bar. It all lies in the high contrast at mid-range spatial frequencies. All trypophobic objects have this single thing in common. And, of course, these objects have this feature in common with the poisonous animals as well. Even without the phobia, Cole has discovered that people rate these images as less comfortable to look at.

So if you know you suffer from such a phobia, don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to Cole, a fear of holes is the “most common phobia you have never heard of.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science