Are Phobias Genetic? My Family's Struggle with Trypophobia.
The Fear of Clusters and Holes
My nuclear family suffers from what some may call an irrational fear that causes hives, itching, panic attacks, crying, nausea, heart palpitations, crawling skin, and shortness of breath. Though born 19 years apart in different households, my 2 younger brothers and I suffer from an extreme physical reaction to seeing clusters or holes.
This recently coined phobia stems from the Greek word "trypho" which translates into "boring holes." The phobia can be triggered by things such as:
- honeycombs and wasp nests
- coral reef
- bone marrow
- shower heads
- macaroni noodles
- soap bubbles
- frogs that hatch eggs on their backs
- swiss cheese
- And my most terrifying site.. a Lotus Pod
The cause of trypophobia is unknown. Many mental health professionals believe that this condition arises from childhood from traumatic events, such as a "conditioning" effect. Because twins can have this disorder and not grow up in the same home or share the same experiences, there is mounting evidence that phobias may have a genetic basis.
There are 19 between my youngest brother and myself. Though we were raised by the same parents, we were raised in different homes in different parts of the country. I have had this phobia for as long as I can remember. When I was 21 years old, my baby brother was 2 years old. While visiting, I held up a picture of hippopatomuses in a standard coloring book. My toddler brother became very upset and tried to knock the book from my hand. He pointed to the hippos and said "no.. nose holes!" He was referring to the nostrils on the hippos. He demanded the book be removed and would not go anywhere near the book. Because he could not grasp the idea of "suggestibility" that holes were to be feared at the age of two, I strongly believe the roots of this phobia are genetic.
Currently there is no cure for this phobia. Many experts recommend prolonged exposure therapy to lessen the physical and emotional reactions to trypophobia. I can personally say this approach has not worked for me and my family.
If you suffer from this phobia, it is important to not mention it to others. Since most people do not understand this disorder, they often try to present the sufferer with examples of clusters and holes just to see a reaction. Others find the phobia amusing. If you know someone with this phobia, try to be sensitive. It can take hours to recover after seeing these images.
Other Uncommon Phobias:
Alektorophobia- The fear of chickens
Bibliophobia- An irrational fear of books
Chionophobia- The fear of snow
Gephyrophobia- A fear of bridges
Ichthyophobia- An irrational fear of fish
Litchphobia- A fear of law suits
Nebulaphobia- The fear of fog
Selenophobia- Fear of the moon
Thalassophobia- Fear of the Sea