Trypophobia

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So yesterday was Halloween and supposed to be the scary day.  Then, I turn my calendar to November and it shows a picture of an Acorn Woodpecker on a tree.  This woodpecker digs little holes into a dead tree and then stuffs acorns into them.  So you have this irregular pattern of holes some of which were filled with acorns.  I’m looking at this and it is just starting to make my skin crawl.  I actually have moved the calendar to December because I can’t bear to look at this for an entire month.

I will admit that this kind of stuff has freaked me out before.  Look up a Lotus Flower Seed Pod.  Yeah, that did it to me as well.  I decided to get on the internet and after a couple of searches hit on Trypophobia.  There were a couple of sites that had a series of pictures to see what kinds of things triggered it.  Like a fool, I went ahead and clicked through.  Ugh.

Anyway, here’s a link to an article that talks about it.  I have to warn you there is a Lotus seed pod picture there.  Why did they have to do that?  I guess about 16% of the people they tested showed some sensitivity.  If you are one, now you know.  This article claims you can become desensitized by just continuing to look at the images.  No thanks, I’d rather stick to avoid them.

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/trypophobia_most_common_phobia_you_probably_never_heard-119637

It can be funny what an internet search turns up.  There’s a medline study done in Japan.  Here, I’ll just give you the abstract.  Not really sure what some of it means but it looks like real science.

Trypophobia refers to disgust for a cluster of objects, and is considered an extension of disgust for dangerous objects. Furthermore, trypophobic images possess certain spatial properties that can induce perceptually unpleasant states (i.e., visual discomfort). We examined whether trypophobia is associated with disgust sensitivity, empathic traits, and visual discomfort. Japanese adults (n = 126) completed four scales: the Trypophobia Questionnaire, which measures trypophobia proneness; the Disgust Scale-Revised, which measures disgust sensitivity; the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, which measures empathic traits; and the Visual Discomfort Scale, which measures proneness to visual discomfort. Trypophobia proneness was found to be predicted by Core disgust sensitivity (i.e., threat of disease), Personal Distress (i.e., the empathic trait of self-oriented emotional distress), and proneness to visual discomfort. We suggest a number of potential factors relating to individual differences in trypophobia and the possible cognitive and perceptual mechanisms underlying trypophobia.

Yeah, this was a little silly distraction.  All from a stupid calendar page.  I was thinking about writing them to tell them that 16% of the people who got their calendar may get freaked out when they get to November and to not ever use a photo like that again.  But that seems a bit extreme.

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