“Intense phobia” is really a disease? After reading this, maybe it will be cured!

Today, let’s talk about a word that everyone may be familiar with now: intensive phobia.

If you can’t understand that word, imagine these scenarios with me:

On the surface of the pond, there are densely packed large patches of frog eggs;

The dry lotus pods stare at you with seemingly countless black holes;

On the reef by the sea, the barnacles are firmly covering the whole reef;

In a huge hive, countless bees are coming in and out;

In a strange fashion exhibition, the models were covered with black and white patches all over their bodies, and even the skin on their faces was densely covered…

Well, if you have no psychological fluctuations at all when imagining the above scenes, and you can’t even understand what is special about these scenes, then congratulations, you don’t have trypophobia.

But if you feel an uncontrollable sense of disgust or even nausea in your heart when imagining these scenes, then unfortunately, you may be a dense phobia like me.


What is “Intensive Phobia”?

“Trypophobia” is not a very historical word, it actually appeared for the first time in 2005.

On this day, an Irish netizen named Louise created this new word.

She defined the term as an involuntary fear of something that punches a hole, and she coined the term because she was a “victim” herself.

She will have this kind of indescribable fear of bubbles in lotus pods, honeycomb, cheese and even chocolate. When she sees these “holes”, it’s like someone grabbed her heart fiercely in an instant, and the fear emerges spontaneously born.

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When the word was coined, it quickly attracted a large number of people like Louise who were afraid of “holes” on the Internet, which made scientists pay attention to this strange phenomenon.


Why are we afraid of density?

Some scientists believe that the reason why humans feel “disgusted” is actually the body’s self-protection mechanism.

The feeling of “nausea” allows us to avoid some pathogens, which are usually found in rotting food, poisonous plants, puddles of vomit or dead animals.

Think about it, do these images make you unconsciously sick? (With the sound of “yue”, we retched violently and turned our backs in embarrassment, but escaped an attack of pathogens.)

And what harm will the density bring to the human body?

Think of lice, fleas, and even ticks crawling over the surface of an animal’s skin. Perhaps trypophobia arises precisely because we unconsciously want to avoid these pests.

In addition, if unfortunately infected by pathogens, our skin will also fester due to infection, and the picture is also quite dense.

Therefore, the fear of density is actually our own protection. When we encounter potential danger, before we realize it, our body has instinctively persuaded us to “run”.


How to treat intensive phobia?

Although it is a self-protection mechanism, it is uncomfortable to see a little denser things, and sometimes it really makes people suffering from secret phobia very painful.

Therefore, of course every patient with intensive phobia very much hopes to overcome it. But it is a pity that if you want to defeat secret terror, you may need to accept secret terror first.

When I was a science editor, I often had to deal with dense images of all kinds.

For example, humpback whales are covered with barnacles, toads are jumping around with frog eggs on their backs, and dogs’ inflamed legs are full of ticks…

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Because of work, I have to face my fears, often with nausea and face the whole screen of pictures like this.

Miraculously, my trypophobia has become less severe over time.

The density of bubbles on the surface of coffee is not enough to cause me fear.

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Of course, the secret fear has not disappeared. When I face the densely packed photos of ticks, I still feel the uncontrollable nausea in my heart, but I can still persist in finishing my work.

In short, I have a lower range of intense panic attacks and less nausea.

In fact, this is a very important therapy for the treatment of intensive phobia: exposure therapy.

Repeatedly looking at the dense pictures until the state of numbness, this “self-protection” firewall will be broken by yourself.

However, the process of exposure therapy is quite painful, and if you are not careful, it will cause psychological damage. If you really want to use exposure therapy to change yourself, remember to pair it with some relaxation exercises and don’t be too hard on yourself.

For example, after looking at the dense pictures for a while, I will look at the furry animals for a while to relieve the huge psychological pressure.

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Of course, if your secret fear is not serious enough to affect your life, you don’t necessarily need to be so hard on yourself, so why not be a little bit afraid?


Audit|Tang Yicheng, content chief editor of Beijing Science Popularization Mental Health Promotion Center

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