My whole childhood and early adulthood (mostly during childhood) I had a recurring nightmare.  In it, my skin was slowly turning into a honeycomb-like texture.  I had this nightmare for most of my childhood, but never told anybody about it until I was an adult.  But since then, I’ve had a “fear” of holes.  I’m not sure “fear” is the right word… maybe aversion.  Things with series of holes (sponges, honeycombs, seedpods, English muffins, the way little bubbles come to the surface when garlic is cooking in oil, olive loaf meat, etc.) make me uneasy, sick, itchy, and give me physical anxiety symptoms (the shakes, skin crawling feeling, nausea, spins/dizziness, heart racing, etc.)  I’ve explained this to my wife… but I don’t think I’ve talked about it with anyone else really beyond saying “ugh, I can’t stand holes.”  But before tonight, I’ve never really verbalized or had words for why/how holes affect me.

Then tonight, I saw a photo on someone’s Facebook wall of a Surinam Toad (google it and you’ll see what I mean)…. I googled it and immediately started shivering and got ill.  That google search though brought up the word Trypophobia and I started reading and I was shocked.  I seriously had no idea anyone else on the planet felt the same way I did, let alone there was a word for it.  Many people’s forum posts and articles were describing “me”.  It’s not a debilitating anxiety for me… because it’s rare that I see something that triggers it, but I definitely won’t have a career as a beekeeper.  But reading that other people suffer the same anxiety felt like a break through moment for me for some reason.  It’s been the ONLY recurring nightmare I’ve had as a lifelong issue (once I got robbed at gunpoint and I had recurring nightmares surrounding that for a few months but it went away, and other situations like that), so to find out there are other people is reassuring somehow.

Reading all about it, of course forced me to see tons of photos about it tonight… and now I have shivers and chills, electric crawling skin, and nausea… but it still feels like a weight off my shoulders for some reason.  I’m not going to post any photos here, but if you do an image search for Trypophobia, you’ll find hundreds and you can see what I mean.

Anyone else reading this have the same type of physical reaction or recurring nightmares?  It’s 1:20am and I doubt I’ll be able to go to sleep now.

Trypophobia test:


Posted on June 12, 2011, in anecdotes, health, mental health. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. i never knew this was “a thing”. i have a thing with holes too, i had a dream about having a mechanical hand with mesh skin over it and ever since that, things with holes skeeve me out. herd to explain but i suppose you understand.

  2. Okay, totally weird random observation, here, but could your trypophobia have started after the getting robbed at gunpoint? Because, well, think of it — looking down the barrel of a gun — that hole is the dangerous part you have to be afraid of looking into. Just a thought; hope this wasn’t too creepy to think about.

  3. My father and I (and apparently my aunt and one cousin on the paternal side of my family) have the same kind of aversion to things like honeycombs.

    Thank you SO much for mentioning the phobia — I figured others had to feel the same way my father and I did — but didn’t think to find a name for it. I’m eager to call him later today to let him know!

  4. That’s really interesting, because I have a sort of aversion/fascination reaction with things like that. I think honeycomb is one of the coolest things around, and the Surinam toad is really creepy yet fascinating. I kinda want to look at pictures of it, but I know it will creep me out. I have a sort of grossed-out fascination with squeezing zits and blackheads because it leaves this gross but cool empty pore behind… This is the only kind of thing that affects me this way; most things I either just like or just dislike. Thank you for sharing this about yourself.

  5. Thank you for this – I feel the same way. I also didn’t know it was an actual “thing” until I read this post. However, I opened the website and had to immediately close it because I cannot look at those pods with the holes. I just cannot do it. I’m probably going to have nightmares tonight and feel sick the rest of the day. Ugh.

    Is there anything to do about it? Besides avoid avoid avoid?

  6. It’s amazing to hear someone else put words to this feeling I’ve had all my life. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it to anyone. It’s something I don’t think about very often until I see a photo or something and I get the jibblies. I have the same aversion/fascination that Hippolyta described. It’s wonderful to know that there are others out there with the same weirdness I have!

  7. Oh my goodness, I never knew this was a thing either. I hate recurring patterns of holes or raised bumps or anything like that. *shudder*

  8. Okay I read this post and goggled the toad… then goggled the word… I must stop listening to you because I don’t think I have that phobia and it still grossed me out and made me nauseous… I think it was because of an email I got about some sort of parasite that supposedly laid eggs in a woman’s breast and there were photos… I looked at it and got physically ill… it turns out the email and the photos are a hoax but to me it looked real and I have never been the same since… some of those pictures resembled the ones I saw… too creepy…but thank you for the word to add to my vocabulary.

  9. So, this is actually the first day I’ve known of your blog, but I decided to browse back a couple of posts after catching up on the Starbucks situation, and this post just blew my mind. I didn’t know there was a name for the phenomenon (I actually clicked on this post because I was curious what “trypophobia” meant, or if this was just about some prog-rock band’s latest album), and I also didn’t know there were other people who have the same reactions as I do.

    I know the picture Jeannie is talking about having received in an email – I haven’t actually seen the picture in …7 years? At least 7 years, possibly more. But having read her description of it, I immediately remembered it, and I’m not feeling so hot right now. I’m generally a pretty resilient person with regard to traumatic events, but that image was burned into my retinas. I can’t look at lotus pods anymore without getting queasy as a result of that pic.

    Anyway, just wanted to chime in. You’re definitely not alone, and apparently neither am I!

  10. OMG – I finally went on line after all these years because I was watching a movie that had a honeycomb of gross holes on someone’s arm, and got that sick feeling again (like I have since I was about 4 or 5 years old and had a pair of shoes that the inside padding came out of and revealed a bunch of honeycomb holes that I had nightmares about for years). On Google, I typed the words “skeeved by holes” totally not expecting to find a thing. Imagine my surprise when I came across your blog. Now I know it has a name. Seems to affect mostly women, huh? And as Hyppolyta says above, I too have a need to get blackheads and such out of the skin – it’s almost an obsession and I feel overcome if someone doesn’t let me remove it (or remove it themselves). Seeing it just festering there makes me sick.

    Thanks so much for the new knowledge!!

  11. I can barely look up anything about this phobia without it making me want to hurl. Why do people who write about This add pictures to their sites that affect us
    “sufferers”?! Two of my kids have it, the first one reacting to a circle pattern saying she felt sick when she was two! I think mine came from my mother having shingles when I was seven and I had to paint some stuff on the scab circles she had. Ewww – can’t even think about it without wanting to head for the bathroom!

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