Does trypophobia really exist

Those who are disgusted by these images may suffer from trypophobia

Carol Mathews explained that one theory of why people develop phobias is an evolutionary aversion to dangerous objects. She is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Florida, USA, specializing in anxiety disorders. Fear of snakes, spiders, or heights - some of the most commonly reported phobias - may have acted as some sort of protective mechanism to avoid dangerous situations.

"The argument is that all phobias came about at some point through evolutionary adaptation," says Mathews. "[Trypophobia] seems to be a real phenomenon."

“It's not something we see people come to the clinic for treatment,” she adds.

The anatomy of fear

Although many phobias are protective, people can develop a phobia against almost anything. Phobia catalogs can be found online listing everything from a fear of phones ringing to a fear of clouds. One of the most common arguments against trypophobia as a disease is that people have become more receptive to the psychological suggestion that pictures of holes are disgusting since the phenomenon became popular online.

"It's one of those things that probably has been around for a long time, but is now better known thanks to the Internet and the ease with which it can be accessed," said Mathews.

While she believes that fear of parasites and disease is an interesting hypothesis as to what causes trypophobia, she adds that some research still needs to be done to understand the condition.