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Little Holes the Worms Make
May 4, 2011 7:48 PM   Subscribe

Trigger warning! What do speaker grills, wasp's nests, worm-eaten wood, swiss cheese, surinam toads and lotus seed pods all have in common? Visceral disgust and fear, if you have trypophobia!
posted by Slap*Happy (204 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
My then-gf had this, although I had no idea it was an actual phobia. She'd freak out looking at speaker grills. Wow.
posted by bayani at 7:52 PM on May 4, 2011


Finally! A word for this. I expressed my repulsion for that frog who hatches babies out of its back , and mentioned the lotus pod, a while ago here on Metafilter and someone acted like i was crazy.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:54 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


So...the opposite of ASMR?
posted by marimeko at 7:54 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I used to have tripeophobia, but then I went to a menudo house one night after the bar closed and discovered why they all stay open until 3am.
posted by hippybear at 7:59 PM on May 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Apparently Wikipedia REFUSES to allow an article on this, judging it not a 'real' phobia.

friggin' deletionists.
posted by delmoi at 8:00 PM on May 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh. So I suppose this means that this stuff doesn't freak everyone out?

That possibility had never occurred to me.
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:00 PM on May 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


No reaction here. Some of the images were creepy, though.
posted by defenestration at 8:01 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the last link apparently one trigger can be pancakes that are ready to be flipped, presumably precluding trypophobia sufferers from cooking and enjoying pancakes. English muffins and especially crumpets must also be right out. What a hellish, debilitating condition. I can't even imagine.
posted by jedicus at 8:03 PM on May 4, 2011 [27 favorites]


i am glad to have seen this. this shit's bothered me all my life. never spoke of it to anyone. made myself watch the video, trembling and itching the whole time. not about to become a trypophobiac advocate or anything, just glad to have a little understanding of the problem
posted by kitchenrat at 8:03 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I came into this thread thinking the video was some kind of psych demonstration -- if you tell people that looking at some random thing can make you itchy, they'll get itchy looking at the random thing (though I didn't). I'm astounded that this is real.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:04 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I will never eat, sleep, or grow new skin ever again.

This reminds me of my nightmare where someone gets a cut, then pokes around at it, then pokes around in it, and then discovers a seashell inside the cut.
posted by mittens at 8:04 PM on May 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I was also shocked that the half-cooked pancakes could trigger anything other than mouth-watering.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:05 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


My trigger is the words 'trigger warning.' GRAGRARGGHRGH
posted by mwhybark at 8:05 PM on May 4, 2011 [28 favorites]


Apparently Wikipedia REFUSES to allow an article on this, judging it not a 'real' phobia.

They say there's too many holes in it.
posted by Flashman at 8:06 PM on May 4, 2011 [27 favorites]


What the hell was that CGI frog thing at the 0:37 mark? Because I am not believing such things exist.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:07 PM on May 4, 2011


I really dont get this.
posted by milestogo at 8:07 PM on May 4, 2011


Okay, watched the video without itching (or at least, not scratching and not having a real need to do so. I'm always a tiny little bit itchy, especially if I'm thinking about it.)

But two problems here: First, if you tell people to sit perfectly still and record their time when they start to itch, they're going to think about being itchy, and that'll be enough on its own.

Two: there's a hell of a lot of difference between speaker grills and looking at swarms of things popping out of sinewy holes in a living creature's back. There's a lot to find unsettling in those frogs which is highly unrelated to that fact that there are holes there.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:08 PM on May 4, 2011 [24 favorites]


Human ' Treeman ' begs for help as he turns into a tree.
posted by metaplectic at 8:08 PM on May 4, 2011


Oh. So I suppose this means that this stuff doesn't freak everyone out?

100% agreed! I had no idea this fear was some unique thing, this stuff seems innately creepy to me. The speaker grill doesn't quite work for me, but the fresh lotus pods make me shudder.
posted by dialetheia at 8:09 PM on May 4, 2011


cjorgensen: Ah! That would be a Surinam toad. If you see pics of the eggs embedded in its back, oddly enough, the notion of the thing gets much, much worse. So don't click that link.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:10 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Errr, This link.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:10 PM on May 4, 2011


So don't click that link.

So I guess it doesn't really count as a phobia if the thing that nauseates you also for some reason makes you click links that you know are only going to make you feel even worse....

I wish it weren't summer with a million frogs calling each other in the backyard. I want to go out there with a shovel now.

(Also: Pancakes? Really? No, no, nothing's CRAWLING OUT of the pancakes. So they're okay. For now.)
posted by mittens at 8:15 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm astounded that this is real.

I remember about 5 years ago on a message board far, far away there was a discussion of this brought about by a photoshop of a woman's breast with a lotus seed pod; large number of people were truly freaked out by things like this, the primary offenders being lotus seed pods and Surinam toads. I was in the "I don't get it" camp but there were quite a few who seemed to be legitimately bugged out and it didn't seem to be the power of suggestion.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:15 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unlike the ASMR thread, I will not be testing those afflicted with this for their status as witches. (I remain unaffected by either ASMR or trypophobia.)

I do still have the giant scales and the duck, if others feel the need to sort people out.
posted by hippybear at 8:17 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


That frog is awesome. The male frog: "Here you go baby, let me flick some fertilized eggs on your back." And then evolutionists shit brix. I mean, THAT is the best way for that frog to reproduce? No other way was simpler?
posted by CarlRossi at 8:18 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


It might have something to do with some innate or primitive fear of having grubs or maggots embed in our flesh. At least, I had a nightmare of such, 20 or 25 years ago that I still remember vividly, and that 'experience' is the first thing that came to mind when I looked at the pictures of the lotus pods.
Funnily enough though, as a designer I've got something of a fetish fpr putting random holes in planes of smooth material. I think it looks cool.
posted by Flashman at 8:18 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The lotus seed pods are a little creepy and alien looking but nowhere near as creepy as the people who thought to make bouquets out of them. JESUS
posted by fleetmouse at 8:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


photoshop of a woman's breast with a lotus seed pod

AUGH GOD DON'T REMIND ME! That was the first time I felt it. Just remembering that image still makes me want to throw up.
posted by dialetheia at 8:26 PM on May 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


That frog is awesome. The male frog: "Here you go baby, let me flick some fertilized eggs on your back." And then evolutionists shit brix. I mean, THAT is the best way for that frog to reproduce? No other way was simpler?

Um... not meaning to derail... but what do you mean? Are there documented cases of evolutionists shitting bricks about this frog? You do realize that evolution isn't about what is simple, but is about what allows for survival, right? And a lot of what happens today in animals is the opposite of easy. Witness the marching penguins or the against-the-current salmon thing or any number of other adaptations which are not simple at all. And yet, that's how the animals reproduce.
posted by hippybear at 8:26 PM on May 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


3-D fractals can push this button, too.
posted by egypturnash at 8:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


All these things just look cool to me. My grandmother used to use lotus pods in flower arrangements. I loved finding wasp's nests as a kid.

Well, speaker grills are actually kind of boring. Otherwise, though.
posted by penduluum at 8:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


photoshop of a woman's breast with a lotus seed pod

Yeah, I'm normally okay with Swiss cheese and crumpets, but lotus boob haunted me for days. Eurgh.
posted by nasreddin at 8:28 PM on May 4, 2011


The word "evolutionists" makes me itchy and nauseous. Does that count?
posted by RogerB at 8:30 PM on May 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh, man, my sister has spent her whole life creeped out by a wide variety of things she describes as "holey shit". I don't understand the rhyme or reason; like, a sea sponge with its many pores is seemingly fine, but a honeycomb makes her shiver. She can't look at pegboard. She told me one time that Crocs are especially bad (well, we agree on that one). We've talked about it lots of times; I'm just totally fascinated by it. She tried to explain to me once that the worst holes are the ones that appear to hold something, like the lotus pods, or seem like they could hold something, something bad, I guess.

I thought it was hilarious for the longest time. I sent her a Suriname toad video once, though, and she literally would not talk to me for two months, she felt so betrayed.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:30 PM on May 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Just saying of all the millions of mutations that could have happened for that frog, this was the one that worked. Okay. I'll say evolutionists and biologists were probably surprised. Better? I have to flex my hip internet parlance, or it'll go stale. Word.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:31 PM on May 4, 2011


I started itching around 10 seconds, but regrettably watched through the entire thing. I would gladly look at goatse to cleanse my mind of the last picture.
In addition to revulsion at these hole-type images, I also hate things that look like blisters or bubbles. My mother used to have these wonderful satin sheets, but an occasional pulled thread would create these odd slubs in them that looked like hives. In the end I couldn't look at or touch those sheets, they just made my skin crawl.
Certain polka-dot patterns that are not of uniform size and which are positioned too close together also disturb me.
In 7th grade our health book had a sort of schematic illustrating 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-degree burns, depicting the skin from a profile view, with 1st as a simple straight line with some redness, 2nd as a line with a blistered bump in the middle, which was bad enough, but the 3rd was a straight line with a pit in lieu of the bump. I hated that image. I still hate it, and it still haunts me.
Also, this warning for corrosives gives me the same sense of disgust and horror, and tingling all over my body, but in a bad way. As someone up-thread said, an anti-ASMR.
I am starting to feel a sense of real dread looking at and thinking about these images, so it's time to find some kittens or something.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 8:31 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rice, right about when it's done cooking.
posted by cellphone at 8:31 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was literally just thinking about this the other day while looking at a wasp's nest, thinking how even though it's geometrically perfect, etc. it still evoked a "creepy" feeling in me, in the same way that holey/decaying/fungus-y things do.

I assumed it was a natural aversion, since a lot of these things are "bad" for us. Much like yellow or black stripes on stinging insects, poisonous reptiles, etc. Seemed like evolution was allowing the wasps to build a place that says: "This place will harm you, we don't want you here," and we're compelled to oblige.

Granted, there are some more benign examples in nature and our man-made lives, but anything organic with holes in it tends to immediately invoke phobias of Rot Grub
posted by ShutterBun at 8:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somebody, put all of these spotty, holey things through a photoshop pointillism filter!
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:34 PM on May 4, 2011


No no no no no no no no. I know you said not to look, and I didn't mean to. Honest, I didn't. But then I just Googled trypophobia, and the first damn thing they show is pictures of seed pods!

But The Boyfriend mentioned that the video -- he watched it; I couldn't -- had a lot of objectively gross things in it. Like the toads. The thing is that it should be noted these sorts of shapes can freak a person out even when they've got nothing to do with toads or worms.

I explain it like this: If you take a soft, wet bar of soap, and you press the tines of a hairbrush into it, you'll make an indentation. Looking at that indentation would seriously upset me, same as looking at the holes in used floral foam.
posted by brina at 8:35 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I knew I have this, but then I took the test and was all like, ah, I won't itch while watching this.

I made it to the second image before I realized I was scratching my leg.

Also uggggh those frogs.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:38 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Barnacles!

Also, this guy from Ninja Scroll.
posted by Nomyte at 8:38 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Saos!
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:39 PM on May 4, 2011


Son of a bitch. I don't have trypophobia. But the first nightmare I ever had, the one that gives me willies to this day was a dream about the back of the Samaritan Toad.

I was five, I had read about this creature in an encyclopedia, with a picture. That night I dreamed that I was in the city, and all the buildings had holes in them, like swiss cheese...or the back of the Samaritan Toad. The issue was that if you went into, or crossed the plane of the buildings, any part of your body would get the holes in them...like the back of the Samaritan Toad. There was a huge pile of toys for the taking in between two buildings, in an impossibly narrow alley. I knew that if I grabbed one, I would get holes in my hand...but I risked it anyway. I retrieved a toy from the top of the pile, and in my hand and entire forearm, were suddenly dozens of fleshy holes...like back of the Samaritan Toad.

I shit you not. That thing gave me permanently embedded heebie jeebies for life, and this damn video didn't make me itch...but it made my hair stand on end. I watched it to the bitter end, and believe me, it wasn't easy.
posted by Xoebe at 8:42 PM on May 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


I totally asked about this in the ASMR thread. My lady is a certified trypophobe and is freaking out right now.
posted by mike_bling at 8:46 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't know this existed before, but I don't mind that other people have it. More pancakes, English muffins, and Swiss cheese for me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:48 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Y'all should stay away from the Machino Henmaru manga, "The Holes," then.
posted by adipocere at 8:48 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, we can't go snorkeling because of this. Coral is real bad.
posted by mike_bling at 8:50 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you for finally identifying this! I have explained my reaction to porous surfaces to many friends, but no one seemed to share my heebie-jebbies about coral, seed pods, and other holey-clusters. Clicking on those links definitely set me up for some nightmares tonight, though.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 8:50 PM on May 4, 2011


Ok. I didn't get it all so I googled around for the aforementioned lotus seed breast. Ahhhhh! It completely clicked. The breast picture was much more intense than the video. It's just a google away but I won't link it here. I don't know if I have any itches now but I want to shudder for about 10 straight minutes.
posted by milestogo at 8:51 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poor Dede the treeman, understand that surgery has helped. HPV is a bitch. See also jackalopes.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:52 PM on May 4, 2011


I used to have this wonderful Dover book of engravings of animals, and the Surinam toad image in it just freaked my shit out. It wasn't so much the "holes full of things" aspect as it was the "little fetal frog limbs straining out like the arms of sinners in Hell" thing.

Seeing this video has actually made me feel better about the beasts. It's hard for me to dislike something that pops out into the world like a little Pokemon when it's born.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 8:54 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, also. SCRATCH IT! SCRATCH IT ALL OUT AND SCRATCH UNTIL ITS FLAT AND SMOOTH AND I DON'T CARE IF IT BLEEDS AND STOMP STOMP STOMP THE THINGS INSIDE TO DEADNESS!


It must be some kind of innate anti-parasitical reaction, right?
posted by leotrotsky at 8:56 PM on May 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


It made me want to draw.
posted by Scoo at 8:57 PM on May 4, 2011


Same thing with Dede, I just want to take a belt sander to the guy. Being that guy's surgeon must have been so satisfying.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:57 PM on May 4, 2011


I have a little of this. The lotus skin and the Suriname toad really squicking me. For me, I think it's related to my phobia of needles/injections/IVs. I don't have a name for that, but it's real enough that I had to be treated for it as a condition of hospital admission as a teenager. There was a real fear of me freaking out and attacking people over it.
posted by immlass at 9:01 PM on May 4, 2011


Hmm. I'm not perturbed by lotus seeds, but the cover for the new Toro Y Moi album makes me absolutely nauseated, and it seems a bit related to this-- interruptions in skin surfaces. Like gills. Ugh, gills.
posted by jokeefe at 9:04 PM on May 4, 2011


One of the images from the "worm-eaten wood" link above is of the niftiest-looking guitar I have ever seen. [Note: the holes here are large, widely spaced, and irregular. I don' t find them itchifying at all, but YMMV.]
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:07 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do have to say, I am completely incapable of watching people get shots. House, E.R. and a lot of other shows are nearly unwatchable for me sometimes. I end up with my hand blocking off the screen at arm's length so I can continue to watch without having to see the needle enter the skin.

I'm also not good with getting shots.

I'm oddly capable of doing all kinds of sticking, poking, prodding, extracting, etc to my own skin, however. Can't give myself a shot, but I can dig out an embedded splinter with a needle with no problem.

I'm sure there's something very very wrong with me.
posted by hippybear at 9:09 PM on May 4, 2011


Hmmm, I wonder if people who suffer from this have an unusually extreme reaction to squeezing blackheads (positive or negative).
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:09 PM on May 4, 2011


I saw this right after it was posted, but had to walk away for a while and breathe deeply.

Didn't even have to click on the link - I knew instantly what all those things had in common because I have this phobia and I always, always have. But it wasn't always so bad. Like, when my sister and I were really little, we used to use pencils to stab lots and lots of little holes in sheets of paper, and then stand back shudder at them afterwards. It was like making our own horror movies or something. It was very awful, but in sort of a nice way.

That photoshop of the breast with the lotus seed pod, on the other hand, is a far more sinister type of thing. I wouldn't be surprised if seeing it took ten years off my life; I'll certainly never be the same. There's a part of my mind that will always be dark, and a part of my soul that will always be screaming, and a part of my heart that will never really be able to love anything ever again. Because of HOLES.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:11 PM on May 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


This is fascinating! I had no idea that so many people find this stuff so uncomfortable. (I think lotus seed pods are just about the cutest thing I've seen today.)

Off to google the breast pic...

Nope. Doesn't faze me in the slightest.

Spectacular post, Slap*Happy, thanks.

posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:11 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knew of it, tried to watch anyhow, got about 40 seconds in before I had to stop.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:12 PM on May 4, 2011


Ugh, at the end of that video, "you could almost call it a cross between telekinesis and subliminal messaging" = instant loss of any credibility.

I now understand wikipedia's stance on this!
posted by pahalial at 9:12 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I end up with my hand blocking off the screen at arm's length so I can continue to watch without having to see the needle enter the skin.

Yeah, this is me too. My husband tells me when I can look up again and watch the screen. But "not good with shots" before hypnotherapy for me didn't just involve hyperventilating or passing out; it involved screaming and hitting people and panicked, violent attempts to escape. Itchy skin from lotus seed pods doesn't begin to touch my terror of needles.
posted by immlass at 9:13 PM on May 4, 2011


Are people who have this phobia bothered by images of dead cholla wood? It looks like this when it's still alive.

I'm starting to think that my complete aversion to mandelbulb images may be something like what people are talking about with how they react to the images linked in this FPP. Although I don't get itchy. I just start to lose my mind, starting with a sense of dread that grows and turns into a back of the mind screaming after a minute or two that gets more intense until I'm afraid it will start to come out my mouth without me knowing it.

(I know that sounds a bit hyperbolic or poetic... but I assure you, it is not. I've tried repeatedly to examine mandelbulb renderings, and I simply. can. not. do it.)
posted by hippybear at 9:14 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought he said kinaesthesia. Did he really say telekinesis? I mentally substituted in kinaesthesia, but I wasn't really listening.
posted by Xoebe at 9:16 PM on May 4, 2011


This picture of Silk Button Spangle Galls on English Oak from a Boing Boing post several months ago affected me at a very primal level. Oh god.
posted by Auden at 9:16 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


You probably don't have this phobia even if looking at what appears to be a japanese woman teeming with black worms hiding in holes in her skin makes you itchy. You might have it if the image causes you to have an intense physical reaction including high heart rate, hyperventilation, and an intense desire to get away from your screen. Phobias are the kind of thing where people who really have them are pretty easy to tell apart from people who don't. An arachnaphobe isn't somebody who flails around and brushes themselves frantically if a spider falls on their shirt, it's somebody who screams and runs away if there's a spider in the room.
posted by tehloki at 9:18 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I just start to lose my mind, starting with a sense of dread that grows and turns into a back of the mind screaming after a minute or two that gets more intense until I'm afraid it will start to come out my mouth without me knowing it." -- hippybear

We call that a bad trip in these here parts
posted by symbioid at 9:21 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, again, I've got no problem whatsoever with speaker grills or swiss cheese or paper punched with a bunch of holes or what have you. The things here that freak me out are the ones that seem like they objectively should not be. Lotus seed pods on their own are fine, but transpose that onto a human and that's just fucking wrong, and more than a little horrifying. Sponges are fine, but make the back of a living amphibian a writhing sponge with smaller frogs crawling in and out of it and you can fuck right off. That shouldn't be.

The guitar is indeed nifty-looking, but also vaguely disturbing to me in that it seems to imply that it's infested with worms.

So maybe I'm not trypophobic at all, but just uneasy with vermin.

I also have a problem with needles, though. I think that's more of a "control over my own body" thing, though. And I still managed to get a tattoo back in the day.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh look, another feeling I don't have.
posted by dirtylittlecity at 9:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


OK, this seems like the right time to ask if anyone besides me is freaked out by the feeling of wooden Popsicle sticks? Just thinking about the texture of those things makes me cringe. Is it only me?
posted by davebush at 9:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's remarkably not like any of the negative ego spirals I've had on the rare bad trip... It's much more Lovecraftian, I think. The ego spirals I can talk myself through and can maintain a good sense of self by reminding myself that there's a drug in my system and it will all go away eventually. This mandelbulb thing, though... it feels much more lizard brain to me. Doesn't involve anything about my ego or a bad trip feeling at all. It's completely unbidden, and I can't reason myself out of it.
posted by hippybear at 9:24 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


uhhh.... unicorn chaser, stat!!!
posted by 2N2222 at 9:29 PM on May 4, 2011


Oh look, another feeling I don't have.

Are you sure about that?
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:30 PM on May 4, 2011


Volcanic rock evokes a similar "looks like it was created by parasites and/or decay. Ick!" feeling in me.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:32 PM on May 4, 2011


Those squicked out by various unnatural holes in humans (photoshopped or real) but not by other holes are subject to a more common body horror [warning: TV Tropes] reaction than actual trypophobia, I think.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sad that in spite of my intentions, my earlier comment was exactly what I didn't want it to be - a joke about how bad this stuff makes me feel.

It's just such a stupid feeling that I can't talk about it seriously. But the worst examples, like the lotus breast, are gravely disturbing to me, in a way that even something like picking actual maggots out of actual flesh, which I've unfortunately had to do a few times, has never been. The day I saw the lotus breast as a teenager I really believed I had ruined my mind forever and I would never be able to move on. It took me a solid weekend of meditation* to come to terms with it. A fucking picture on the internet. It's just really hard to explain.

*I don't meditate.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:35 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Actually, this whole phenomenon reminds me of my favorite entry (on Zschokke's chancres) in The Thackeray T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases.

(If you find wasps' nests, lotus seed pods, etc., nifty, and you aren't bothered by depictions of skin disease, you should definitely read the piece I linked. If you find them horrifying, you should stay far, far away.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK, this seems like the right time to ask if anyone besides me is freaked out by the feeling of wooden Popsicle sticks? Just thinking about the texture of those things makes me cringe. Is it only me?

Strangely enough my neighbor mentioned that to me this past weekend; she planned on making popsicles from mango pulp but wanted to find alternatives to the wooden sticks because the "texture on my tongue makes me shudder". I couldn't grasp it- how often was the popsicle stick on your tongue? Can you use tongue depressors ever? Toothpicks?

a question for the trypophobes: are there other non-things-in-holes that bring out the same feeling? Is it like the uncanny valley for you, or more uncomfortable?
posted by Challahtronix at 10:10 PM on May 4, 2011


Is it like the uncanny valley for you, or more uncomfortable?

I should have previewed; two or three cars parked under the stars cleared this one up.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:12 PM on May 4, 2011


I'll just leave this here.

You probably don't want to click that.
posted by danny the boy at 10:14 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


if anyone besides me is freaked out by the feeling of wooden Popsicle sticks?

I have a friend that hates them too - he can't stand the thought of anything wooden in his mouth. Wooden chopsticks and toothpicks bug him too. I found this out when we shared a popsicle and once I was done my half, I absentmindedly chewed on the stick, and it weirded him right the hell out.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:14 PM on May 4, 2011


I absentmindedly chewed on the stick, and it weirded him right the hell out.

Just reading that made me cringe and get crazy goosebumps on my arms.
posted by davebush at 10:17 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That photoshop of the breast with the lotus seed pod, on the other hand, is a far more sinister type of thing. I wouldn't be surprised if seeing it took ten years off my life; I'll certainly never be the same.

Ugh, god yes. I'm not sure my reaction is quite as overt as what you clarify in your next comment, but it's definitely high up my list of Shit I Wish I'd Never Seen. Working on the internet kind of means needing to be inured to shock images, and I basically am—goatse.cx long ago lost the ability to generate in me any feeling other than a sort of vague familiar affection, like, oh, it's my old friend the shockingly distorted anus—but that fucking lotus seed breast photoshop is still a no-clicker.

I'm not sure how much of my own reaction to this stuff is trypophobia in the broad sense that it's being defined here and how much of it is more of a body horror thing as DevilsAdvocate suggests, but it's certainly not just the latter. Honeycomb doesn't particularly bother me, for example, but some other porous inanimate things absolutely give me irrational squicks.

I suddenly recall that I was really bothered by the scene in Nightmare on Elm Street 3 where the punk girl dreamer when confronted by Freddy found herself with a few new talkative orifices on each arm hungry for some intravenous drugs, and that was a gross image that I carried with me for years and years until I finally got around to rewatching the film and was underwhelmed in the clear light of adulthood.
posted by cortex at 10:23 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh man, the sensation, sound and mere idea of chewing on a wooden popsicle stick is the worst thing in the world.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:24 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


can't can't can't can't look at a single link. I only was able to read/skim through the first 20 or so comments, then blast down here to write this.

It seems that not every example people've listed (that I was able to scan through) affects me particularly, but most line up and confirm that this is a thing I have, and I know I have always had. Fish gills, when I was maybe 7 or 8? is one of the earliest triggers I remember. Fuck! I'm itching as I type!

I won't ever be able to come back to this thread (and if there was a 'hide this thread forever' option, Facebook-style, I'd use it) but I at least wanted to say "thanks", since now I know that this is a real thing, and it has a name, and I have had this thing since long before I ever knew that (many?) others also had this thing and put a name to it.

I'm trying to (and hope I successfully do) forget what the actual name of the thing is... it's enough to know, next time I see something that makes me feel that way, that others do too and it's not just something weird about me. That is all. (See you in some other thread!)
posted by rodeoclown at 10:25 PM on May 4, 2011


Poor Tree Man is at the very top of the list of Shit I Wish I'd Never Seen. I thought maybe I would just forget about him over time, but then I had to go and read this thread.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:28 PM on May 4, 2011


Yes yes and yes again! There are a few .gifs out there that combine lotus seed pods and girl's breasts or fingernails that gave me nightmares for months. I hate this so much that I just can't explain the loathing that I feel. So much so that I don't even have to look at the examples in the post. I just know what is meant. Enough so that I'm already freaked out by it.

Now that I know that there is a word for it, it still doesn't help!

Ick, squick, eew and fuck!

I will now scrape my fingernails on a blackboard to clean my palate.
posted by Splunge at 10:29 PM on May 4, 2011


There's this certain imageboard I hang out at. Most of it is terrible, but there are one or two sections which are good enough if I want to kill some time, especially as they tend to be microcosms of the entire place...well, sort of, but that's not important.

What is important is that there was a thread I read some time back which was about this sort of thing. Holes. Gross stuff. Gross stuff in holes. Holes with gross stuff in them. Et cetera, et cetera.

I am wondering if anybody here has encountered a certain pornographic Japanese comic.

...That's an awfully vague description, but if you've seen it, you knew at once what I was talking about. As for me, I worked hard, very very hard to repress that memory. And now, thanks to this thread, it's back again.

Consider this a sort of half-hearted vengeance.

(...Then again, maybe I'm remembering it worse than it actually was. I'm definitely not going to look it up to make sure. No, I'm going straight into the shower. Straight into the shower. Brb, scrubbing forever.)
posted by KChasm at 10:29 PM on May 4, 2011


ts;dw too scary;didn't watch
posted by Cranberry at 10:36 PM on May 4, 2011


Uh oh.
posted by telstar at 10:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will now scrape my fingernails on a blackboard to clean my palate.

Mind if I join you while I rub this worn-down pencil eraser on some paper?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:42 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, how do you guys like Alias's sixes last video?
posted by aubilenon at 10:43 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


OTOH, pancakes? Okay. Now I'm hungry. But I can't make food. My mind might just fuck with me. Does anyone else have that happen? You're in the middle of a great snack and your brain does a, "Let's fuck with me" thing? Is this just me?

Eating a nice sandwich or something and suddenly you HAVE to think of the most disgusting thing in the world?

Or for me, eating a tuna sandwich and chomping on a bone that the processing plant missed. That's it. Spit out my mouthful and throw the whole damn thing away. That's why I often put potato chips on a tuna sandwich. Lots of crunches mean no anomalous crunches.

And salmon. I worked for a deli many years ago. I was one of the guys that sliced the lox so paper thin that it would melt in your mouth. The first thing that I did was go through the lox and pick out every bone with a pair of needle-nose pliers. That was what you were supposed to do. But I was a perfectionist. And I got every damn one. Why? Because I might eat a slice. I hit a bone, I puke.

They loved me there.

Also why, while I would love to have one of those whole cooked fish at a quality Asian restaurant, the idea of there being a bone that was missed in the plating...

I'd ruin the evening. No more need be said.

Sorry if the mental picture squicked anyone.
posted by Splunge at 10:50 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, the lotus seed breast was freaky. On balance, I probably shouldn't've googled it.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:52 PM on May 4, 2011


Or mentioned it.
posted by Splunge at 10:55 PM on May 4, 2011


davebush: "OK, this seems like the right time to ask if anyone besides me is freaked out by the feeling of wooden Popsicle sticks? Just thinking about the texture of those things makes me cringe. Is it only me"

For me it's loosely packed cotton like the kind you find in a bottle of vitamins or cotton balls. If anything I buy that ends up having a layer of that I need to find someone to take it out for me. It doesn't even do to use pliers or something to pull it out. There's just something wrong about it. I'm perfectly fine with Q-tips though.
posted by mindless progress at 11:19 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mind if I join you while I rub this worn-down pencil eraser on some paper?

Fucking stop that now

Next you'll be jamming forks together. Ugh ugh ugh. Oh god.
posted by jokeefe at 11:19 PM on May 4, 2011


This is a joke, right? Video of oozy larva-like stuff is not a test of whether you have "an intense, irrational fear of holes" (Urban Dictionary). Holes in living bodies, holes with other living things slithering in and out, holes that are clear signs of bizarre diseases or infections you don't ever ever ever want to get, will make lots of people lose their appetites (as I just did, foolishly eating my breakfast while watching that video), but such a reaction is not special or pathological.

To test for fear of holes, drill various numbers of plain holes (including zero holes) in pieces of otherwise fairly neutral materials (wood, metal, paper) and in various arrangements, then test lots of people under similar conditions to see whether a few people (compared to most other people) have an unusually negative reaction to clusters of holes in things.

What any normal person might have is a (natural, rational) negative reaction (fear, disgust) to holes in things that, because of the texture or configuration, make you naturally think of having such holes (invasions, infections, diseases) in yourself. That would hardly be worth a special -phobia label. "Ooo, he's made uneasy by the thought of a person having little squiggly animals coming out of gaping holes in his body! What an odd guy! Give him a label!"
posted by pracowity at 11:25 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mind if I join you while I rub this worn-down pencil eraser on some paper?

That only bothers me if it's real old and makes pink-grey smudgy marks.

and that's more "I wish I could fucking erase this" than "AAAARRRRGH NOW I HAVE TO STEEL WOOL MY BRAIN"
posted by aubilenon at 11:26 PM on May 4, 2011


Captain, perhaps we should send a probe.
posted by clavdivs at 11:28 PM on May 4, 2011


I just remembered the fingertip things. You must not look up the fingertip things.

Will not eat. Will not sleep. Will not look at fingertips...

Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

posted by Splunge at 11:29 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite way to disgust people is to talk about surinam toads when they're eating pomegranates.

I'm a bad person. At least it's fun.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:48 PM on May 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


One of the few recurring nightmares that I used to have, and can still recall vividly was that I got itchy and started scratching all over.. and wherever I scratched, a scarab beetle started forming and popped out.. making me itchier.. and you can guess the rest. I lived alone at the time, so I am not sure if I ever screamed/sobbed in my sleep.

It has been many years since I had that dream last, but this post revived some horrible memories.

Not the OP's fault. I should probably have seen this coming. And now I am itchy all over. Fuck.
posted by vidur at 11:54 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember the first time I saw the Surinam toad. It went something like this... La di da, watching a nature show about the Amazon... oooh pretty birds... ewww ugly frog and then suddenly toad babies are exploding out of the Surinam toad's back in slow motion, in slow motion, in slow motion. AHHHHHHH MY EYES! I felt sick for days. The slo-mo images replayed in my head for months every time I closed my eyes. I never thought much about holes or pods or stuff exploding out of them until I saw that damn Surinam toad show. Nothing since has triggered as severe a reaction. However, a couple years ago some bird's nest fungi showed up in our raised garden beds and I nearly threw up. (and yeah, there's no way in hell I'm not watching the video)
posted by wherever, whatever at 12:13 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to look at any of the links. I'm scratching just thinking about it. Something I always knew I had but I didn't discover there was a name for it until I read an AskMe about it sometime last year. Just like others, the lotus pod breast haunted me for days.
posted by liquorice at 12:23 AM on May 5, 2011


Probably not trypophobes favorite song.
posted by telstar at 12:30 AM on May 5, 2011


I remember the first time that I played Fallout 3. The radroaches were so damn realistic. I unloaded all my ammo on the first one I saw.

And the rest killed me.

It took me days to get over that. And I will still not eat radroach meat. Molerat meat, sure. Roach meat, no way.

On that note, I am waiting for the summer here in beautiful downtown Brooklyn. I have a basement. It is cool and damp. When the heat is on, I usually have a few radroaches down there. I mean huge suckers. My washing machine is down there too. I just love when I turn on the basement light and hear, yes I said HEAR. The stomping of giant roach feet.

I have gone down there armed with various devices to protect myself. And it usually works. Until the day that a ten pound roach dropped from the ceiling on to my neck.

The sound that I made caused car alarms to go off outside the house. I tore off my tee-shirt and the sucker was in it somewhere. I stomped on the shirt and was sure that I had killed it. Then it nonchalantly scuttled out of the balled up shirt.

It was the moment that I understood that spiders were a good thing.

I never used to kill spiders. Now I bring them into the house from outside. I am actively trying to cultivate plants that attract praying mantises. I have been trying to purchase a power loader like the one in Aliens.

What was I talking about?

What's that sound.

Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu...

posted by Splunge at 12:32 AM on May 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by wuwei at 12:52 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


OMG I totally have this and didn't think it was an actual thing!

I get the same reaction for anything "swarming", and not just normally scary stuff like bees or bats, but even non-dangerous swarms like swallows.

*shudder*
posted by like_neon at 1:49 AM on May 5, 2011


Oh man this thread is giving me SO MANY IDEAS of things to Photoshop onto flesh. Horrible, horrible ideas. Gifs of Surinam toads popping out of people's faces.

*muah ha ha ha ha*




If you ever want to get back at me, just chew with your mouth open. Chew Twizzlers with your mouth open. HOWLING. FANTODS.


This also reminds me of a dream I had. I was sending a package to a friend, so I wrote him a letter about it.

Dear ***,

A couple nights ago, I had a dream I was sitting at my living room desk writing a letter to you, very much like this one, except with more small talk.

As I wrote, I felt something moving in my arm. I poked at the movement with the end of my pen, and noticed a knob moving just beneath the surface of my skin. I prodded and squeezed it further, and a luminous green bulb emerged. I pulled at it, and another spherical segment followed, and then another. I deduced it to be some kind of worm. I pulled it out by wrapping it around my pencil. It was about three feet long, I thought. I would have measured the thing, but the segments would disconnect and float into the air, sometimes individually, sometimes in groups of three or four. They grew brighter as they hung in the air, then expanded and popped, with a flatulent little pfrtht noise.

After I had pulled the worm out entirely, I noticed my arm was covered with small purple abrasions. They didn't hurt, and apeared to be several days healed, as they were rough to the touch. None of them were near the site from whence the green thing emerged, but I was certain the two were related.

Not sure what the dream meant.

Probably that I'm a lesbian.

posted by louche mustachio at 1:52 AM on May 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is interesting! I'm pretty sure I don't have this, but watching the video still made me slightly uncomfortable (and made my legs itch a bit, too!) I wonder if being told what to expect can bring on a slight reaction even in those who don't have the phobia?
posted by anaximander at 2:09 AM on May 5, 2011


Had a dream a few years ago wherein I had yellowjackets under my fingernails. I incorporated the image of my nails cracking open and the yellowjackets crawling out into a story I wrote. It was definitely creepy to me at the time, but now it's just a thing I remember with no unpleasant feelings.

Jawless fish, however, no fucking thank you.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:25 AM on May 5, 2011


Speaker grilles and worm eaten wood don't bother me, it's the holes that have a little rim around them, as if something has dug into flesh and caused it to swell.

It's only a little shudder looking at an image though, and that frog is pretty cool. But I would probably be much more freaked out if I had holes like that on me. Stuff could get in there!
posted by lucidium at 3:14 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have something I can only describe as a fear of "structure". Beehives make me a little uncomfortable, the sorta grill-like structure in crumpets, biological things that look like they have more complicated small pieces than they have a right to.
posted by curious_yellow at 3:17 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


At the dinner table, when we (family) were served fish, how come i was always the only one that got a missed bone in my fish, does any MeFi's remember that they also had the unique problem of getting a bone?
posted by taxpayer at 3:41 AM on May 5, 2011


You sure can learn a lot of interesting things on the internet.
posted by Daddy-O at 4:36 AM on May 5, 2011


If you go to a certain restaurant in Italy, on the 13th of any month, and you see a salt shaker with "wormwood" etched on the side, ask the busboy with bad skin for the devil's hair di mare special. He'll ask you how you want the tentacles cooked. Say "al dente". Then follow him into the kitchen to see the colander of chthulu.

And that is how creepypasta is drained.
posted by condour75 at 4:37 AM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hah! I had no idea this was a thing. My best friend has always thought I was weird/crazy for this.
posted by torisaur at 4:42 AM on May 5, 2011


Then it's agreed: the Trypophobia Support Group will meet here Thursdays.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:45 AM on May 5, 2011


Woah, there's a name for this?!

I've had this my whole life. Certain patterns just make my skin crawl.
posted by TheKM at 4:51 AM on May 5, 2011


Yeah, I can't look at a cob of corn that someone has sliced the kernels off of without getting ill. I thought it stemmed from a food poisoning incident that followed my parents slicing off some corn kernels from my ear of corn to give my sister - the anger I felt at my Big Boy Corn being defiled combining with the later queasiness from improperly prepared stuffing in my young mind.

But now, yeesh. I dunno.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:58 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I made a dessert last summer where you take peaches, slit them all over, and insert almonds in the slits before baking the whole thing with spices. Well, I was also taking lots of pics of food that summer as practice with my new camera. The pics went on Facebook and an already-neurotic-as-hell acquaintance flipped her shit telling me the peach full of slits made her want to puke and puke and she really wished I'd kept it to myself. She said something when one of Spanish honeymoon pics was of a plant in one of the public gardens, pale green and star peel shaped, with lots of small fuzzy pinkish dots/marks all over. People are odd sometimes.
posted by ifjuly at 5:02 AM on May 5, 2011


I do not have trypophobia, was not bothered in the slightest by the video, and love crumpets. But this little number that came up on the Youtube sidebar? AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!
posted by Go Banana at 5:04 AM on May 5, 2011


Wow. That reminds me of several years ago, when I was looking up, IIRC, bot flies and came across a series of photographs of the larva implanted in a woman's nipple, as they matured and ate bigger holes and eventually left, leaving gaping holes. I lost my appetite for 24 hours and had nightmares for a week. Shock images never had that effect on me before or since, but I do find some of the linked examples strangely horrifying.
posted by indubitable at 5:08 AM on May 5, 2011


Oh jeezus. Yes, mindless progress, I am right there with you about the medicine bottle cotton. I'm glad I'm not the only one.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:34 AM on May 5, 2011


I walked away from this thread before midnight (US Central) to go to bed, and in the less than 30 minutes between laptop down and bed, I'd managed to scratch my arms and legs and parts of my torso violently red. I'm sure my dry skin didn't help, but apparently I was set off worse by the video (phobia or body horror or whatever) than I thought I was.
posted by immlass at 6:09 AM on May 5, 2011


I clicked the surname toad link and was surprised... at how banal it was, I thought it was less 'gross' then the lotus pods. Looking at this stuff like the lotus pods and the toad is like "yeah, I guess that's kind of gross". I find those infected plant things really gross too, actually worse then the holes like the pods/toads. The photoshopped breasts don't even bug me that much, but I think I would be pretty freaked out if I thought they were real.

The infected plants are usually bumps or growths, rather then holes, though. I suppose with the pods and toads those holes are supposed to be there, while the plant infections are actually a disease. The toads of course are kind of gross because they are animals living in those. Thinking about all this is kind of perturbing, but not really that bad. The pictures just don't bother me that much.
posted by delmoi at 6:14 AM on May 5, 2011


I did not need to know what a surinam toad was. The HORROR.
posted by MsVader at 6:28 AM on May 5, 2011


I'm glad to know this has a name. The episodes of Spongebob in which he shoots things through his sponge-holes or things pass through them have this same effect for me. (Just writing that made me feel a little queasy.) But I imagine that's intentional.
posted by Francolin at 6:29 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: cotton and popsicle sticks... Who here has ever rubbed two marbles together?
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:53 AM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Weird. I never know this sort of thing bothered people. But then again, I am an entomologist, and really enjoyed studying parasitology in university. Which also explains why when I see things like this, like the time I found some bot flies in my ex-girlfriend's dog, my first thought is "Cool, lets take a look at that!"
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:54 AM on May 5, 2011


I actually do get a little uncomfortable around stuff like this. Now I have a word for it. Well, other than "weirdo".
posted by HostBryan at 7:04 AM on May 5, 2011


That photoshop of the breast with the lotus seed pod

So... I'm not going to google this at work and I've obviously never seen the image... but it's just a photoshop? There's nothing actually wrong with her? It's just a juxtaposition of two images? *scratches head* I trust you all that this is genuinely disturbing, and I'm not sure I want to look it up when I get home, but I just don't see WHY it would be so disturbing. Breasts are fun to look at. Lotus seed pods don't bother me. So I don't see why the two would be so disgusting.
posted by desjardins at 7:22 AM on May 5, 2011


Btw, my thing is urethral sounds. I cannot watch something go into a penis. I don't think that's so unusual, though.
posted by desjardins at 7:24 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


desjardins, it's shopped together to look like the breast skin has the texture of the lotus seed pod, as if there are lots of holes in the actual flesh, and the seeds are visible in the holes.
posted by lucidium at 7:30 AM on May 5, 2011


My problem isn't being freaked out by the things, it's obsessively wanting to pick the seeds out of the pod or pick those damned eggs out of the frog's back! Not itchy--frustrated!!!

On the more extreme end of the scale, what about folks who just want to watch this over and over...
posted by kinnakeet at 7:51 AM on May 5, 2011


Yeah, you owe to to yourself to watch this bot fly removal video, just to be certain about your proclivities.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:54 AM on May 5, 2011


The only one that strikes me as a little yucky is the lotus pod. I think, though, that I would not mind seeing and holding the thing in the round. More sensory info and context would render it a lot less creepy for me personally.
posted by Mister_A at 7:54 AM on May 5, 2011


but it's just a photoshop? There's nothing actually wrong with her? It's just a juxtaposition of two images?
Yeah if the pods don't bother you the photoshops shouldn't bother you too much. If it was real human skin, it would be a sign of some awful disease, but as a photoshop it's not that problematic so long as your brain can keep it straightforward. OTOH if your brain processed the image as 'real' while knowing it was fake it could bother people, I guess. It's hard to know.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 AM on May 5, 2011


photoshop of a woman's breast with a lotus seed pod

I find this image, and my reaction to it, absolutely fascinating. The first time I saw it I was completely filled with revulsion, and the image haunted me for days (other holey thing don't seem to have this effect on me, fwiw) but there was something about the combination of those two images that made my skin crawl.

But, and here's where my brain screwing with me becomes a curiosity to myself, I couldn't stop seeking it out. Mainly because I was trying to figure out what the breast had been photoshoped with (I didn't know it was a lotus pod when I first saw it and assumed it was some sort of insect thing) so I kept coming back to this thing that completely disgusted me, in an effort to better understand it.

That's when I realized that my own mind hated me and was trying to make me suffer. Yay.
posted by quin at 8:08 AM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


The lotus seed pods were one of the least gross things in that video, to me. I actually really like them, and would totally be that person using them in bouquets. The frog freaked me right out, but not for the same reason - more for a "OH GOD THAT MUST HURT" sort of thing.

On the other hand, I'm totally squicked out by moths and butterflies, so who am I to judge?
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:18 AM on May 5, 2011


Im in the "it does bother me but lotus pods are kinda creepy looking" camp.

Now I watched the video and wondering (and somewhat surprised no one has mentioned it yet)....WTF is up with those 2 fingertips???? Maggots? Frostbite?
posted by ShawnString at 8:22 AM on May 5, 2011


Oh also, it's interesting how we tend to group phobias based on fear (heights, for example) in with phobias based on disgust. It seems to me that there must be a difference in how they work in the brain, and I wonder if the latter is harder to treat. The human disgust reaction is incredibly strong.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:35 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The lotus seed pod freaks me out, as do the worm tracks in wood. The photoshop of the lotus seed pot on the breast was the worst.

The man-made, regular stuff like speaker grilles don't bother me. Wasp nests do, especially when there are creepy crawlies. I've occasionally seen things like clusters of spaghetti noodles that give me a similar creepy feeling. It's the irregularity of it, the organicness, the naturality that makes it (to me) so unnatural.
posted by no relation at 8:48 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one set off by watching someone lick a popsicle stick or wooden coffee stirrer.
posted by jtron at 8:54 AM on May 5, 2011


I think there is a lot of overlap between this fear of organic holes and fear of parasites. I didn't get squicked out by any of the images but there would definitely be a point where you could turn those images into a visible infestation of parasites and you could completely squick people out.

The surinam toad definitely comes close because we see the immature frogs emerging from the skin much like a parasitic infestation. The woman + lotus bulb also tends to venture really close to the infested with botfly maggots fear that many people would rationally have.

There is also a fear of losing bodily integrity that most people seem to have to a least a mild degree. Holes into things kinda implies loss of integrity, infection, etc. As a result we seem to have at least a mild disgust.
posted by vuron at 9:01 AM on May 5, 2011


as a photoshop it's not that problematic so long as your brain can keep it straightforward. I guess that's kinda the heart of the condition. Some brains apparently are just wired to react to any rendition of that kind of thing as weapons-grade squick fuel. Photoshopped or not, holes aint good. As others have pointed out, it also goes beyond mere body horror, since the offending surface can be anything from a piece of paper to the dorsal area of a HELLSPAWN DEMONFIS&*$@%&(%$(& ^h^h^h^h

LOST CARRIER
posted by ShutterBun at 9:12 AM on May 5, 2011


I was able to make it through this whole thing, but if they would have included pictures of diverticulitis or that one fake holey picture from snopes, I would have lost it.
posted by drezdn at 9:26 AM on May 5, 2011


I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one set off by watching someone lick a popsicle stick or wooden coffee stirrer.
posted by jtron at 10:54 AM on May 5 [+] [!]


It's the idea of a splinter in my tounge, I think, that makes this so repellant. Just thinking about it makes me clamp my mouth shut as though a popsicle might force it's way in at many moment! It's funny. This is why I never quite finished popsicles.

Also, chalkboards - I like them, I use them today, but I couldn't go near them when I was younger (made school awkward at times).

I worked with a woman who couldn't even think about cotton balls. People put them on her keyboard all the time just to mess with her. And my mom - she really, really hates handling newspaper - it's so dry!

This is really interesting. Though my examples are not related to trypophobia, the whole fear/disgust thing must be related, somehow. I get this only in that certain perforated metal screening makes me nervous and irritable, now, after a bad experience with it that I can't get in to here, in all fairness - it's too horrible :)
posted by marimeko at 9:33 AM on May 5, 2011


dear god, what the hell are those fingertip things? what is that? What the fuck is that?

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHH.
posted by stray at 9:56 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to say I'm not sure that this is exactly my condition, because I refuse to click any of the links besides the seed pod one. The seed pods don't bother me because I grew up with those in lots of dried flower arrangements in my house. But I do have this horror of certain textures, especially when it deals with flesh or fleshy surfaces. Don't have problems with English muffins, pancakes, coral, swiss cheese, etc, but there's an indefinable attribute of textures that freak me right the fuck out.

TRIGGER WARNING: If you have a problem with parasites, let me suggest you NEVER GET scabies. My husband and I got scabies from our best friend, who got it from his college-aged sister. Scabies is actually tiny little microscopic bugs that burrow under your skin and lay eggs. You have to coat your skin in pesticide to kill them, and then the eggs that are under your skin can still hatch, so you have to do it again. And sterilize all your clothes and everything you own, pretty much. When this happened, let's say I developed some type of insanity where I was convinced I still had them under my skin, and treated myself with the poison over and over. Every little bump on my skin was proof they were still there. It took several doctor visits where they assured me it was IMPOSSIBLE that I still had scabies to finally convince me I was being crazy. But, yeah, I don't freaking recommend it.

I need to go shower now. *shudder*
posted by threeturtles at 9:58 AM on May 5, 2011


The fingertip thing is another photoshop job, this time using lampreys' mouths.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:59 AM on May 5, 2011


The fingertips looked like a variation on a foot ulcer to me. Warning do not google that image if you might have this condition.
posted by koolkat at 10:00 AM on May 5, 2011


The fingertip thing is another photoshop job, this time using lampreys' mouths.

Thank you. It's a photoshop and no one is gonna convince me differently.
posted by stray at 10:03 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fingertips showed up in a GIS and I just assumed they were fake
posted by delmoi at 10:06 AM on May 5, 2011


I looked at them for about half a second before desperately closing the tab, so they may be very obviously fake...but UGH.
posted by stray at 10:12 AM on May 5, 2011


Until the day that a ten pound roach dropped from the ceiling on to my neck.

Well, as long as we're freaking each other out: I grew up in a house infested with giant water roaches. (It was Houston, whatcha gonna do.) One day I put on my nightgown that had elastic at the cuffs. About five minutes later I was sitting on the couch and felt my sleeve, to feel something crunch in it. I thought it was a leaf or something. I opened my sleeve at the wrist to get the leaf out, and a huge, live cockroach flew out of my sleeve. EEEEEEEEE.

Several years ago I worked as a researcher into child development in poor neighborhoods in Houston. Sitting for hours in houses infested with cockroaches was routine. I developed a unique style of fidgeting designed to keep cockroaches from crawling up my legs. Only once did I ever just freak the fuck out and leave because the roaches were too bad. One time I went on a visit with my boss. One of the kids was playing with some toys on the floor, and there was a roach crawling through her hair, but she didn't realize, so my boss reached over and picked it out of her hair. Same visit, a roach landed on my arm while I was taking notes. I stood up and brushed it off and stomped it. Unfortunately, I also said, "Fuck." My boss later said, "You handled that situation well, except for that one word." Thanks, boss. Thanks. Go back to your clean ass office now, please.
posted by threeturtles at 10:14 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


canyoufeelthemsquirminginyou?
press press

posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:22 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking - symbolism is really important here. I'm Buddhist, and lotuses are a frequently used symbol, so that's probably why they don't squick me out at all. They have a strong association with peace and enlightenment for me. Information (includes illustration of a lotus in bloom)
posted by desjardins at 10:23 AM on May 5, 2011


Oh my god ohmygodOHMYGOD!!

Can we call a moratorium on videos of things with other things living under and subsequently emerging out of tiny burrows in the flesh of said thing?

Please?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:27 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


torisaur: "Hah! I had no idea this was a thing. My best friend has always thought I was weird/crazy for this."

These are not mutually exclusive. ;P
posted by symbioid at 10:45 AM on May 5, 2011


Thank you everyone for clearing up the fingertip question. I saw the video earlier and couldn't stop that image from making me feel anxious. Knowing it was fake somehow helps!
posted by erinfern at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2011


I've tried 3 times and I can't even read this thread, much less click on any links. I didn't think I had a problem with little holey things, but clearly I do. Gah!
posted by travertina at 11:00 AM on May 5, 2011


So I'm sitting on my lunch break, thinking about this thread, and a vision came to mind; I'm picturing a guy, half his face seems to be badly burned and he wears an eyepatch. At some point in the story, he gets intimidatingly close to another character, and you see the burn scars on his face are actually sockets, and all around the patch, above and below, a dozen or so small black alien insect eyes open to stare unblinkingly out of the holes.

Did my subconscious just come up with his out of thin air, or was this in some old horror movie or something? I suspect that if it looks like what my imagination is coming up with, it could absolutely terrify someone with a bad case of trypophobia.
posted by quin at 11:11 AM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought it was just me. I have this nightmare where this bleeding sponge infection takes over everything it touches....ugh. I think it has it's roots in a healthy fear of parasites, because they bring out the same itchy feeling in me. So gross. Foam of any kind is a problem. Mostly I just don't look at it. Or think about it. Ugh.
posted by domo at 11:19 AM on May 5, 2011


quin needs to start doing visual design for Cronenberg movies.
posted by hippybear at 11:19 AM on May 5, 2011


Ack. I have always had some innate repulsion to these sorts of things as well and never knew it was so common -- holes, pock marks, abcesses, a zit/blackhead after it has been popped and there is just that open hollow in the skin. Skin that looks like tripe. Tripe. All these things. That nasty ass frog. Oh, I do not feel good right now just thinking of this.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:25 AM on May 5, 2011


Cracked earth onscreen or in person fills me with revulsion and has for as long as I can remember. I become nauseated and all I want in the world is for it to be smoothed or fixed or taken away. I experience blind panic unless I can look away. Images of magnified skin has a really similar effect. I never knew what it was called until now. I'm gonna pass on the links, though.
posted by nuala at 12:09 PM on May 5, 2011


If you guys hate surfaces that are riddled with tiny holes from which smaller items might emerge, you'll love this picture. Go on, click. Check it out. Pretty sweet, huh?
posted by Greg Nog at 1:01 PM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


In Atwood's The Edible Woman, the main character starts to identify with food and therefore cannot eat certain things. At one point she is disgusted with birthday cake because the texture on her tongue feels "cellular, like the bursting of thousands of tiny lungs." That line always bothered me.

Also: injera.
posted by cranberrymonger at 1:30 PM on May 5, 2011


So, I clicked on that trypophobia YouTube video earlier this morning, watched it briefly, got really squicked out (as I knew I would) and then forgot about it.

Later I go to the YouTube homepage and am greeted by videos "Recommended for You."
These include: "Human 'Treeman' Begs for Help" "MRSA Infection 2" "Surinam Toad" "Monsters Inside Me: Maggots" and "Frog Birth"

All with screenshots. Very explicit screenshots. ugggggggh

I'm going to go shower with bleach now.
posted by castlebravo at 1:30 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was gonna ask about foam, earlier. And bubble wrap. Is bubble wrap a trigger for this? Or is it too convex or clear/ not dark enough?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:49 PM on May 5, 2011


Is bubble wrap a trigger for this?

I have some things wrapped in ancient, crackly bubble wrap in my garage. I think it's kind of icky and I suspect anyone who was seriously freaked out by this kind of thing would be more bothered than I was.
posted by immlass at 2:05 PM on May 5, 2011


I've always thought of this as less of a phobia, and more of a "visual allergy".

One of my most vivid memories from childhood is of noticing the pattern in the bubbles in the bathtub at about the age of 6 and completely losing my shit. Full on hysterical dread, nightmares for days, and a very serious interest in taking showers from that point forward. Just thinking about it now makes me a bit anxious and uncomfortable.

The only link above I clicked on was the lotus pod, and I lasted about .5 seconds before every hair on my body was standing on end.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:52 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of those things bother me, and some don't. I've found that the difference in my reaction lies in whether or not the surface is flared outward at the hole. Having an edge like that gives the impression that something came/ tore out of the object, which is the disturbing part, for me.
posted by shesaysgo at 3:15 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]



Another treat who find this more fascinating than horrifying: Kobe Abe's novel The Kangaroo Notebook, which is about the misadventures of a guy who suddenly starts growing a thatch of alfalfa sprouts all over his skin.

And for those who want to ponder the nature of revulsion: The Anatomy of Disgust by William Ian Miller.

Both are highly recommended (to those who won't be immediately reduced to a pile of convulsing jelly by same.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:17 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not too bad with the holes. The nightmares I have tend to include clusters of mushrooms growing out of my skin. And they break off but keep growing and the stalks and more of them pushing their way out oh god.
posted by jokeefe at 4:14 PM on May 5, 2011


kchasm I am wondering if anybody here has encountered a certain pornographic Japanese comic.


...Damn you. DAMN YOU KCHASM.
posted by castlebravo at 4:46 PM on May 5, 2011


That's when I realized that my own mind hated me and was trying to make me suffer. Yay.

Ha ha. Oh god, quin, this. This! I've come back to this page 3 times now today and looked the lotus/breast shop back up. Each time I recoil, but I feel somehow compelled to keep going back to it. And I had forgotten it for awhile. I think the first time I caught it, I literally gripped the sides of my chair arms and went "Eeeeeeeee" softly.

The video, enh, not so much. Maybe a little "ee" at a couple of toads together.
posted by cavalier at 5:32 PM on May 5, 2011


I hate this thread for connecting, in my mind, the mouth-watering sight of almost-done pancakes with that repellent fucking toad.
posted by palliser at 6:51 PM on May 5, 2011


I decided I'm not brave enough to google the lotus breast after all.
posted by desjardins at 7:50 PM on May 5, 2011


To save you googling desjardins, here you go; breast worst of the web.

Seriously though, if you get the heebie-jeebies about this stuff, let this one go. It's not worth getting the image in your head.
posted by quin at 8:20 PM on May 5, 2011


Just stopped in to say that swiss cheese and pancakes never really bugged me, but seeing one of those lotus seed pods (even if it's dried out). I didn't know about those toads, but now I'm starting to get all squicky and I'm gonna go do something else now.

Okay, I gotta confess something. I wanted to read through the entire thread, but I started clicking all of your links. I had to quit about halfway through. This stuff is like grade A nightmare fuel to me.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:11 AM on May 6, 2011


Seriously though, if you get the heebie-jeebies about this stuff, let this one go. It's not worth getting the image in your head.

God I remember seeing that a few years ago. Seriously people, don't fucking click that. Not worth it.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:12 AM on May 6, 2011


I recall someone who took the lotus breast thing one further and made it into an animated .gif with a very slow rate. Every so often, with a little dithering of the dark, you'd get an impression that something in one of the holes had just wriggled.
posted by adipocere at 8:33 AM on May 6, 2011


Just remembering the lotus breast gives me the willies. Weirdly, I think I've seen lotus seed pods in person and not been bothered, but the pics... ewwww.

When I was in the Air Force back in '89, the dorm (yeah, that's what we called them) that I lived in didn't have any air conditioning (or maybe I did and my roomie was just odd -- actually this is the more likely explanation). This was in San Angelo, Texas, and it was summer, so... yeah.

Anyway, my roommate liked to leave the door to our room open (for air or whatever, I don't know). And Texas and summer means bugs.

Two or three times I'd feel an itch at the back of my neck, reach up to scratch it, and come away with something wriggling. Once it was a millipede.

That doesn't give me one-tenth the willies that the lotus breast does.

(Funny thing. A bunch of us here with this phobia keep coming to this thread and we keep talking about it. We sure like to set ourselves off, don't we?)
posted by no relation at 9:06 AM on May 6, 2011


I recall someone who took the lotus breast thing one further and made it into an animated .gif with a very slow rate. Every so often, with a little dithering of the dark, you'd get an impression that something in one of the holes had just wriggled.

I remember that too. I also remember closing my laptop, leaving the house, and drinking myself to blackout. EWWWWWWWWWW.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:43 AM on May 6, 2011


At the beach I've seen a multitude of closely spaced holes in the sand. Each had a little crab in it. Does such a sight trigger this reaction?
posted by yesster at 3:01 PM on May 6, 2011


I knew that there was something vaguely uncomfortable about some types of these images...and now, after viewing a few of the lotus pod images, and then experiencing OCD-like thoughts about them...well, I'll be damned. I think this thread may have actually GIVEN me trypophobia.

It is so hard to explain why those images are so unnerving - it's not nausea, it's not itching, it's not fear.

It's just...not right.
posted by davidmsc at 7:11 PM on May 6, 2011


At the beach I've seen a multitude of closely spaced holes in the sand. Each had a little crab in it. Does such a sight trigger this reaction?

Of course.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:43 PM on May 6, 2011


I don't have a phobia, but these images definitely stir something in me. Kind of a morbid fascination? Like quin, my mind keeps coming back to them, but usually it's just to inure myself to whatever in them affects me.

I first noticed it with electron microscopy pictures.

We can do a little study, if you like. Rank these pictures in order of how disturbing they are (starting with the most):
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

The pictures are all fairly innocuous; you may not even have a reaction to them. I'm curious to see if they do provoke anything, though.
posted by Eideteker at 11:14 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


1 - NEAT!
2 - looks like fish eggs
3 - I want to pilot a little tiny space ship around the structure Fantastic Voyage style
4 - Koosh Ball!
5 - It looks like a kind of candy that I'm failing to remember the name of.
6 - Not fish scale... snake scale
7 - I feel like I'm looking at the worlds smallest hornet's nest.
8 - NEAT!

I'm pretty sure I can't count this one as a phobia either (damn it! I'm sure I'll find one one day!). But were any of them to have tripped a feeling, I bet it would be 7 or maybe 6.
posted by quin at 12:19 PM on May 9, 2011


I don't know what the hell I'm still doing in this thread, but...

That's funny, quin, because I was going to say 7 was the least bad, along with 5. To me, none of those pictures is absolutely terrible but I still don't like any of them, at all. (AT ALL.) 2, 6 and 8 are the worst, in ascending order of badness, I think. 2, because the dots are all clustery and I can't handle clusters of anything, and the other two because of HOLES.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2011


I don't have this phobia, so none of them are bad, but if I had to pick, #3 would be the worst. It just looks like something is going to come out and grab you from beyond the blackness.
posted by desjardins at 1:01 PM on May 9, 2011


Hahaha, my mind must have insta-shielded me from 3. That one is fucking awful!
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:17 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eideteker, I love them all, though 1, 6, and 8 give me a particularly wonderful "Fuck yeah, biology!" feeling.

I'm starting to suspect that I may have a touch of the opposite of trypophobia, however. (Not trypophilia, because that'd be a bit, too, ehm, yeah. Not Trypophilia.)

Still, all of these ordered organic patterns just make me happy, especially the ones like the lotus seed pod where you can see a bit of flowing randomness in balance with a regular geometry. (I did have a strong, negative reaction to the lotus pod breast image the first time I saw it, but knowing that it's not an actual parasitic infection alleviated my heebie-jeebies completely.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:58 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would you describe the sensation you get as a frisson?

I don't really get delighted or revulsed so much as COMPELLED. Like, it's a visual puzzle and I must figure it out, as if I were Rain Man trying to decypher "Who's on First."
posted by Eideteker at 6:44 AM on May 10, 2011


ooh I love them all, but 1 and 8 especially would be gorgeous as silk scarves
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:30 PM on May 10, 2011


Ahhh! look at these SHOES.

This thread gave me trypophobia. Curse you all.
posted by milestogo at 8:42 AM on May 13, 2011


Speaking of phobias, it's a good day for triskaidekaphobia.
posted by desjardins at 8:55 AM on May 13, 2011


Oh god I wish someone hadn't linked to this thread. I managed to miss it whenever it was on the front page.

Cell division is my reliable trigger for instant nausea - I loved the X-Files, but there were a few seconds of the intro theme that I always had to look away from. Just a bunch of cells under a microscope, splitting and looking... unhealthy. Holes in pancakes also bug me, but now my husband makes those so I can eat them again. I'm ok with honeycomb and wasp nests.

The lotus boob had me wanting to throw up for a week when I first saw it last year (thanks, MeFi!). I'd be perfectly happy, going about my business, and then the image would pop up in my mind and I had to pause until I stopped wanting to hurl. There is no fucking way I'm ever going to look at that toad.

I do think of it as a disgust reaction more than a danger reaction. The first time I remember getting it (nausea plus goosebumps all over and elevated heart rate) was when I found a cup of homemade relish in the back of the fridge when I was about 7. It had mold on it - lumps of green and white, bubbly and furry.

Oh man just reading this thread has made the goosebumps happen.
posted by harriet vane at 1:44 AM on May 22, 2011


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