I have a friend with the following undiagnosed condition. If she sees certain textures e.g.: honeycomb, skin with boils, (in a recent film) skin with dozens of teeth stuck into it, she just doesn't hate it, it throws her into a prolonged state of mental distress. You can see in her face that she suddenly cuts off from the outside world and is deeply upset but can't communicate. She then recovers slowly over days but has flashbacks during this period.

Is this a known phenomenon with a name one can look up? I don't know if it counts as a phobia exactly but maybe it does.

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    Welcome to MedicalScience.SE! For a number of reasons outlined in this meta post, we can not, and will not, give medical advice. If you have a question regarding your personal health, you should see a doctor. For further information on how this site is supposed to work, what is on-topic or not, you can take the tour, visit the How to Ask page and Medical Sciences Meta. I have voted to close this question and this post explains question closure. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 9:22
  • The same would apply in Psychology.SE Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 9:22
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    @ChrisRogers - I am not so sure that the question is personalized advice. The poster gives a background, but simply asks "Is this a known phenomenon or phobia I can look up?" - Substitute ducks for textures, and the descriptions, and the answer would be Anatidaephobia.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 14:12
  • @JohnP It wasn't meant to be a request for personal advice.
    – Simd
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 19:11
  • I agree this isn't a request for medical advice, and it turns out it does have a name.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


It actually does have a name. The term is trypophobia. However, it's not an officially recognized phobia. This is a summary of trypophobia from a rather extensive paper on the subject:


This condition has not yet been recognised by diagnostic taxonomies such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Trypophobia usually involves an intense and disproportionate fear towards holes, repetitive patterns, protrusions, etc., and, in general, images that present high-contrast energy at low and midrange spatial frequencies. It is commonly accompanied by neurovegetative symptoms.

The first documented case of trypophobia was published by Rufo in 1998.

Rufo M. [The little girl who was afraid of holes]. Soins Pediatr Pueric (1998) 18:3.

The article is in French.

  • Do phobias in general cover feelings of distress that don't include fear?
    – Simd
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 20:22
  • 3
    @Anush I'm not so sure feelings of distress can be distinguished from feelings of fear.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 2:07

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