Self Expression Magazine

I Have Trypophobia

Posted on the 10 May 2020 by Laurken @stoicjello

It’s a fear, if you will, of clusters or groupings of irregular holes.   You’ll find it discussed on a Reddit, on Creepy Pasta and other social forums.   You won’t find it mentioned in your your favorite shrink’s DSM, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the fifth edition bring the most recent).  The DSM is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health..    Apotemnophilia is listed.    Also known as as body integrity identity disorder, apotemnophilia is characterized by the “overwhelming desire to amputate healthy parts of the body.”   It’s a brain disorder (Uh…duh!!) which produces a major disruption of body image.    In severe cases, sufferers will chop off the offending part themselves, since doctors, at least the ethical ones, won’t do it for them.      That F’d up malady is in the DSM, but the very real disgust, agita and neuropathy caused by a fleeting glance  (Trypophobes couldn’t handle anything longer) at a grouping of irregular holes.

I first discovered my Trpophobia back in 1973 as a Freshman in High School.    My mother and I walked into an ritzy gift store in San Antonio and I was admiring a very large dried flower arrangement and in the heart of it, there was this….this….

Lotus seed pod.


Some Trypophobes are triggered by sponges, small bubbles, honeycombs, Swiss cheese and some will freak out over holes or irregular bumps that create certain textures, such as close ups of strawberries, blackheads on someone’s skin, bump galls on the backs of certain leaves


Uhuhuhuh…..eweweweweeew……Blblblech…. Appallingly gross.

There’s the  flip side of a Nestle’s crunch bar, chocolate chips and  barnacles.    Horrible, nasty, vile barnacles.    

I’m planning on taking a cruise to Antarctica.   From San Antonio Down, down down to Ushuaia, not only the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, but the globe’s southern most city.    From Ushuaia, we!ll board a ship and sail through the washing machine known as the Drake Passage, a moody little body of water that just happens to be where the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans converge..   As a result, one can experience rather rough sees while crossing.   From there, we enter the much calmer Antarctic Peninsula.   That’s where we’ll get in some fantastic whale watching.

I love whales.   I always have but until deciding to go Way Down South someday soon,  I never really studied them.  I admired them from the ignorance of distance.  So, in doing research for this impending trip, I’ve learned a few things:   1)  they’re beautiful, smart and noble creature and 2)  they absolutely disgust the trypophobe I am.   For one thing, they’re covered in barnacles.


And then I decided to look closer:



Whales will often come very close  to the Zodiac  boats we’ll take on expedition to the continent.    That means I could be mere feet from these gentle aquatic, terribly textured giants.    

And if that’s not bad enough, I also get all neurotic and Monk-like looking at their baleen.


Baleen is a filter feeding system inside the Mouths of baleen whales.

Think:  a Fram air filter on your car.

The system works just like one, but with water.   A whale will open it’s mouth underwater, then  pushes the water out, and it’s favorite meal, krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as a food source.  Baleen is similar to bristles and consists of keratin , the same stuff  found in human fingernails and hair.   I find it reprehensible to look at.   And after realizing I don’t like looking at baleen, I con no longer look at window blinds either.  What’s wrong with me???   I think I’ve spent too much time time alone and isolated during this pandemic.  But I’ll have to fix my situation if I want to fully participate in this trip.   There are plenty of whales in the icey waters off Antarctica.     Many are baleen whales.    Six different species of baleen whales if truth be told.      Another problem….baleen whales have large hair fo,livkrsbon their skin.  Yes, whales have fine hair….especially silly around their faces


Now, I  no longer eat whole dill pickles ever again.



A psychiatrist I know says I should endure exposure therapy.   I have.   I force myself to look at barnacles and baleen and now pickles every night and tell myself these are parts of the whale, not the entirety of the whale.    They do not distract from the whales’ nobility or grace.   I cannot allow these things to phase me like this.

But they do.   They really, really, really do!!!

In closing, some experts can only guess that Trypophobia, which is real because it’s been around long before it had a name, may have be the result of evolutionary DNA. clusters or holes or bumps may be aversive because they happen to share a visual feature with animals or conditions that humans have learned to avoid as a matter of survival.      Maybe.   All I know is that my problem is bad.   I can stop looking at a barnacle…even look away but the image is still seared on my mind’s eye.

I think it’s a visual response to a photo or object that goes against our sense of order.  

Lotus pods, barnacles and whale baleen don’t belong anywhere near the word “order”.

Guess I won’t be going to Antarctica.    I hear Iowa is nice.

Wait!!   There are corn cobs there, dammit.

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