Is Trypophobia real? How can EFT help.
‘Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.’ Yoda
Is there something out there on the horizon that frightens you?
You are not alone.
Perhaps we all struggle with some or other kind of fear; from being scared of the dark to having an irrational fear of flying.
While you take time to reflect what your existence might be like if you conquered some of your greatest fears and phobias; I’m going to explain about a common but little-known phobia known as trypophobia.
I might have remained unaware about trypophobia until I encountered it in my last EFT Seminar in New Delhi.
During the seminar, one of my trainees explained how she sees pictures of small holes in irregular pattern clusters, for example images of the holes of the lotus seed heads.
She wanted to clear this phobia and came up to be the demonstration. She was shown the image of the lotus seed head at a distance on a phone.
When she saw the image she felt a tingling sensation and became emotional and teary.
She shared that on the one hand she had an aversion to seeing these images and on the other hand she was also drawn to viewing these images, almost obsessing over it.
We used the EFT Tapping process to release the surface sensations like tingling and then explored the root cause by asking questions:
- When have you felt these feelings before?
- When have you felt these sensations before?
She uncovered past memories some related to the phobia and others unrelated where she felt out of control, anxious and panicky.
We tapped on the past events and she started to feel calmer. Twelve minutes later she was shown the same image again and this time she did not feel as triggered by seeing the image and felt a lot calmer.
Interestingly, I realised when I was working with her that I also had similar sensations that made me feel uncomfortable. While I was working with her my aversion to these images also disappeared.
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What is trypophobia?
Phobias are by definition irrational and excessive, and indeed trypophobia is a proposed phobia of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes, circles, or bumps, and can be debilitating.
According to two psychological scientists, Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins, at the University of Essex, UK, it’s theorized that trypophobia – derived from the Greek words trypa, meaning hole, and phobos, meaning fear – is an evolutionary response that might stem from an instinct to avoid clusters of small holes or bumps because they resemble the symptoms of contagious diseases (measles, chicken pox, leprosy), because they appear on dangerous things (poisonous snakes and plants), or because something dangerous might be living in them (1).
Trypophobes and triggers
For any individual trypophobe, the effect of a triggering image can vary from no response to a severe reaction. The range in intensity can get as bad as throwing up, crying, shaking all over, and intense itching and scratching. Photos of a lotus seedpod are commonly used to test whether someone is trypophobic or not.
The symptoms experienced by trypophobes can be both cognitive (disgust, fear, anxiety, helplessness etc) and physiological (sweating, dizziness, trembling, increased heart rate etc).
Some trypophobe symptoms trigger off by the sight of these stimuli ranging from exotic and unusual images to everyday, harmless items, such as
- Lotus seed pod, lotus breast, lotus seeds photoshopped onto skin
- Surinam toad giving birth
- Tafoni (rock formation)
- The frozen peas image
- Googly eyes on face
- Swiss cheese
- Skin pores
- Soap bubbles
In 2017, photoshopped images that were used to advertise the seventh season of American Horror Story triggered latent trypophobia in so many people that let to tweetstorms of protests and warnings (2).
Another recent instance was when trypophobes were warned of several potential triggers in the movie Black Panther (3).
Celebrities like Sarah Paulson and Kendall Jenner have publicly talked about their trypophobia (4).
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