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Does this picture of a harmless lotus pod give you the howling fantods? I’ll admit, it squicks me a little.

Jennifer Abbasi reports on the Popular Science blog that there’s something of a grassroots movement afoot to recognize “trypophobia,” an irrational aversion to the sight of clustered holes:

It turns out that I’m not alone. I contacted roughly 10 psychologists for this story, and of those who got back to me, none had heard of it. The evolutionary psychologists I emailed were unwilling to speculate on the potential biological underpinnings for a fear of small, clustered holes. Trypophobia is not an official phobia recognized in scientific literature. For many (though perhaps not all) who have it, it’s probably not even a real phobia, which the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders says must interfere “significantly with the person’s normal routine.” Having just looked at a bunch of holey pictures and videos, I’m severely grossed out, but I can still write this story.

One of the best things about reading is learning a word that suddenly subsumes a bunch of experiences into an unanticipated concept.

Speaking for myself, “phobia” doesn’t quite fit the experience. Some pictures of small holes do evoke mild but utterly inexplicable revulsion in me; but it’s more akin to the unpleasantness of hearing nails on the chalkboard or seeing particularly ill-matched colors.

[Photo credit: The Richards, Creative Commons.]


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