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Old 06-28-2002, 10:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 395
bizzare fear of clusters...<long description>

My girlfriend has a fear of clusters.<following is her first person description of symptoms> Small dots of things in a those pictures in science books of cells magnified...whenever I see certain amounts of dots or bunches I have an immediate reaction. I want to grind my teeth and destroy the clusters, either by breaking them, or eating them . This manifests itself by a gnawing twinge in the back of my molars as indication of my desire to eat them. I also have a tensing of shoulders and a slight cringe. It's hard to tell what will actually set me off, my boyfriend has been trying to pin point it, but its very erratic. A giant school of fish was something he assumed would freak me out, but because they knew where they were going it seemed all right. Maybe if clusters have a direction then I'm okay with them. What bothers me is the tight edges on a coral reef, tons of bugs squarming on the same piece of food, bunches of small flowers that seem to be hugging each other too closely, dots or objects in tight and small bunches. Larger clusters that have greater seperation dont bother me. I wish I could pin poin whats a good cluster and whats a bad cluster in my mind for you, but it really seems to have little logic. All I know is that it makes me feel very anxious and destructive. This strange phobia is not a hinderence on my lifestyle, but my boyfriend and I would both be curious to know if there are any others out there like me, and if there is a way to get over this odd desire to destroy evil clusters. <end first person> I did google search and nothing under fear of clusters or phobia or any variation thereof so figured this would be a great place to ask.
Old 06-28-2002, 11:02 PM
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This is interesting. I have no idea at the moment, but I might try researching it a bit.

One thing that strikes me is that this appears to be a reaction to clusters that are more than purely graphical, right? So a random wallpaper design that has what might be interpreted as clusters doesn't garner the molar action?

I'm grasping. Do you think it's possibly claustrophobic? If not that, we might try to identify the factors that separate a school of fish from a swarm of hungry bugs.
Old 06-28-2002, 11:14 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 395
This is girlfriend in response...actually, clusterish wallpaper does bother me. I think actually this was the first sign of the problem. Sometimes before I go to bed I get a picture in my head of this brownish wallpaper with tight dots and it makes me very agitated. If i saw wallpaper with tight clusters with lots of space in between i could have 2 different reactions..if i looked at it from far away no reaction..but if i concentrated up close on one set of clusters id have a reaction...I think the tightness of the clusters is the key factor. Sometimes I even surprise myself with what I find to be a negative cluster and what I deem as "ok".
Old 06-29-2002, 12:06 AM
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came in here thinking it was a computer question :)

whatever you do, stay away from hard disk drives ... they have LOTS of clusters
Old 06-29-2002, 01:07 AM
Join Date: May 1999
Location: 1313 Mockingbird Lane
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If I had to take an armchair psychologist stab at it, I'd first probe into some other areas, but a guess is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

"Obsessive-compulsive disorder plagues people with intrusive, unwanted thoughts or obsessions. Often a reflection of exaggerated fears that have no basis in reality, obsessions are rarely pleasant. People who have these obsessions recognize that they are senseless. "

I lean toward that rather then a phobia, since it's not so much a fear of those patterns but an agitation and intrusive thoughts about their closeness and order that seem to be the problem.

Old 06-29-2002, 02:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: DC
Posts: 19,401
That doesn't happen to me with clusters, but I do know the feeling. Certain color combinations will do that to me. My reaction isn't very strong, so it is hard to tell exactly what it is that is provoking me, but I do occasionally react with anxiety towards abstract pictures.

The brain is a strange strange place.
Old 06-29-2002, 03:37 AM
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 12,253
Uh, you may not believe me, but I have almost this exact same thing. I've never told anyone about it, because it's too weird and hard to describe. I don't have the teeth grinding thing, though. Whenever I see a cluster-type pattern (the "Bubbles" background on Macintosh computers is a prime offender) it revolts me, gives me this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach, and eventually I have to look away because I can't stand to see it anymore.

I really thought I was the only one.

Things that have set off this "phobia" (I don't know what else to call it) in the past have been: beehives, polka-dot shirts, bubble wrap, and once, a particular test pattern that the local NBC affiliate used when it went off the air for the evening.

Sometimes I think it's because the cluster pattern reminds me of a documentary I saw on burned, blistered flesh once, but then again, I've had this issue since before I saw the documentary.

My God, I can't believe there's someone else out there who has this. I'm almost afraid to admit it myself, because it sounds so bizarre. If anyone can shed light onto this phenomenon, that would be so awesome.

(By the way, the "tons of bugs swarming on the same piece of food" mentioned by the OP was so disturbing to me that I actually had to get up and walk away from the computer for a minute to clear the image from my mind. 'Yuck' does not come close to describing how this image makes me feel.)
Old 06-29-2002, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: in a shame spiral
Posts: 304
I am still in shock that I'm not the only one who has experienced this! I've experienced this before too, but I've always thought that the clusters subconsciously remind me of germs/bacteria. I'm certainly not compulsive about cleaning though. For me, the phobia is not an everyday occurance. It seems to come to mind more when I'm stressed. So, another theory would be that the 'chaos' represented in a cluster also represents disorderliness which, I suppose, causes me stress. Like the previous posters said, it's hard to describe....
Old 06-29-2002, 04:08 PM
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Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
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I have the same thing. Clusters can freak me out.

When bugs cluster together in clumps to breed, I have the irresistable urge to crush them.

Irregular, "organic" clusters freak me out, not geometrical ones.

Just thinking about it stresses & upsets me.
The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
~~~~Hunter S. Thompson
Old 11-23-2010, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Philly, PA
Posts: 2
Agitated with a cluster of dots

I found this site by trying to find out if there were others out there who has similar feelings towards a cluster of dots or circles.
I HATE to see them. I too feel a strong urge to destroy them!! I havent ever had the need to eat them....but i want to scratch them out and destroy them. Omg! what is that! I havent quite had the time to ask a doc about it but it really does bother me. When i see them, I can feel my eye brows get really low and crunched up. I just want to scream and scratch them out!!! For instance, once I cooked something in a pan which required the use of greese. Well, since I didnt wash the pan out immediately, the greese dried up and there were a series of greese dots...omg, i couldnt stop myself from getting a fork and i just scratched them away...i almost couldnt stop myself. I ruined my pan because i was scratching so hard that i scratched marks all in the pan. I saw them on a paper once, (which was an important paper), and i took a pencil or pen or whatever i had at that moment and scratched the paper until it was tore up. All at the same time while trying to destroy them, i get really agitated. Like i said, my eye brows get crunched up and i want to like, whine or scream.
The reason i recently just decided to look into it is because i have a friend who just got a new tattoo, and he sent me a picture of it to my cell phone. Well, it was a picture of the road-runner...with a whirl of dust, and a SERIERS OF CIRCLES..(which was supposed to be the dust spects) *shrugs*, i just exited out of that picture so that i didnt have to destroy my phone!! However, when i saw him shortly there after, (with the tattoo still fresh), i said, "let me see"...and i proceeded to scratch the cluster of little circles...he jumped and decided to cover them so that i dont see them. I dont think i could be around him much anymore. I dont think i could bare to look at them...ugh......
Has anyone figured this weird phobia out yet??
Old 11-23-2010, 04:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,374
Trypophobia, I gots it. It's not really an 'offical' phobia, but that's how everyone seems to reference it.

Anyone who has said 'yeah that's me' in this thread, do NOT google this word without images turned off. Also, pretty much any site that talks about it is going to have a picture that can trigger it.

Last edited by hotflungwok; 11-23-2010 at 04:54 PM.
Old 11-23-2010, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 36,006
Lotus seed pod (like in dried flower arrangements) is the classic "OMGTAKEITAWAY!" trigger for this.
Old 11-23-2010, 06:00 PM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: 54N13E
Posts: 1,143
Meanwhile, in a different corner of the internet.. (Of topical interest, Snopes, but borderline NSFW)
Old 11-24-2010, 02:06 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 77
Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Lotus seed pod (like in dried flower arrangements) is the classic "OMGTAKEITAWAY!" trigger for this.
This. Also, small beehives with the honeycomb clusters exposed blech

Originally Posted by Fish Cheer
Meanwhile, in a different corner of the internet.. (Of topical interest, Snopes, but borderline NSFW)
Yeah, DO NOT click on this if you identify with the OP!

Last edited by Godinama; 11-24-2010 at 02:08 AM. Reason: addition
Old 11-24-2010, 03:11 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Northern Sweden
Posts: 916
I seem to recall that there was an old thread here with a similar subject, together with a picture of something like a frog with a cluster of eggs on it, or whatever it was (vague memory). Maybe my memory is all wrong. From the replies so far, this seems to be somewhat common.
Old 11-24-2010, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Santa Barbara
Posts: 4,316
Originally Posted by Henrichek View Post
I seem to recall that there was an old thread here with a similar subject, together with a picture of something like a frog with a cluster of eggs on it, or whatever it was (vague memory). Maybe my memory is all wrong. From the replies so far, this seems to be somewhat common.
Pipa Pipa (Surinam Toad) video.

That's not really some phobia. I think most people would be freaked out by it.
Old 11-24-2010, 08:58 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 11,319
This has been called trypophobia -- the fear of clusters of holes. I caution people who believe they have this issue against Googling that word, as Google searches now include an image selection even if you don't specify.

However, Wikipedia throws this into doubt:

Originally Posted by Wikipedia
WP:Wikipedia is not for things made up one day. See for someone purporting to have invented this name in 2005. No evidence in Google Scholar for any actual phobia known by this term. ŚLargo Plazo (talk) 13:08, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

* Delete. Likely hoax and borderline patent nonsense: Trypophobia is a serious fear of hole, which results in an all-over itchy feeling and general uneasyness. Google search seems to indicate a pattern of trolling: petitions to dictionaries to include the word, posts to, attempts to insert the word (together with shock site images) in the World of Warcraft forums. - Smerdis of Tl÷n (talk) 15:32, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

* Delete Non-notable nonsense Cardamon (talk) 17:02, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
So the word at least may be somebody's attempt to achieve fame virally, and/or internet overexposure may be causing or at least exaggerating this uneasiness until people regard it as a true phobia. The truth is not immediately obvious to me so far.
Old 11-24-2010, 09:03 AM
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Previous thread: Trypophobia, i.e., Fear of Clustered Holes
Old 11-24-2010, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 12,253
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
So the word at least may be somebody's attempt to achieve fame virally, and/or internet overexposure may be causing or at least exaggerating this uneasiness until people regard it as a true phobia. The truth is not immediately obvious to me so far.
The word may be made-up and "unofficial" but I can assure you the phobia is not. If you look up-thread, my first post on this topic was in 2002, and I didn't know the name of the phobia or even that anyone else in the world even had this phobia. The OP was literally the first time in my life I'd realized that this wasn't some mondo bizarro thing that was particular to me.

To get a sense of the level of revulsion we're talking about here, I'll tell you that the first time I ever cut open a persimmon (possibly a pomegranate? One of them has a cluster of little shiny black seeds in the center, and I can't bear to do a Google image search to figure out which one) I found the center seed cluster (GAH!!) and immediately spun away from it. I think I may have shrieked. MrWhatsit had to handle the cleanup. If he hadn't been around, I would have done it myself, reluctantly, with eyes closed and gloves on. I'm not kidding.
Old 12-28-2010, 06:20 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1
Long time ago I searched for the name of this phobia...and came across a website that listed "picophobia" which I can't find anymore. It stated it was the fear of tiny dots and organelles. I told people I had this phobia, but recently I started searching for the word again and came across many sites like this discussing this phobia.

For me, I realized I had this phobia when I was 5. I looked at my index finger where there was a wound and could see tiny dots (the top layer of skin was rubbed off on a more calloused part of my finger). I couldn't stop staring as a growing tingling emerged in the back of my neck. I get the same feeling when I look at a swarm of ants. I stare in awe and fear with the growing sensation to destroy them all (usually by clawing, smushing and smearing them frantically).

I've had much time to think of why I have this fear and got to experiment with what affects me I'd try to see what images or thoughts would get a reaction out of me. I would test by drawing dots, looking at pictures, etc. If it didn't affect me, I'd imagine it was something else such as cells. I would draw the dots smaller, closer together, more clustered until I could see a resemblance to organelles/blood cells.

I think it is because of the fact they function and live at that tiny scale while there are massive amounts of them. In comparison to my body/scale, they greatly outnumber me and I am made aware of a huge yet tiny world apart of just my experience that I can't fully understand or grasp.

However I found that it is not necessarily the size that triggers the fear. I know a lot of people can't find a rhyme or reason to what triggers it. Some pictures here, some there... maybe my findings will help pinpoint things.

I remember in class there was a book cover sitting on a shelf of a photograph of blood cells grouped together. They weren't tiny, but it reallllly made me sick. It took a lot out of me to act normal and not scream out in class. In the photo, the cells were like 3 inches but I still had the same reaction which made me realize the scale or what I see visually isn't the trigger. It is because I know blood cells are very tiny and seeing those clustered blood cells, you have to think of them in its scale. So it is a battle in the mind for me. I realize some objects do not bother me because it doesn't look like cells too much such as sand.

Here is one test/exercise you can do:

1. Look at illustrations of blood or cells. [] This one does gross me out.
2. Try to detach yourself from it and have it not gross you out anymore.

After googling "blood cells" I was overwhelmed initially by the images; my heart felt tight and it was hard to breathe...but I kept telling myself it wasn't a big deal and they're just images. Then I'm not bothered as much.

If you see a honeycomb structure, you have to ask yourself if you are associating that to something else, it being filled up, the thought of bees going in and out...what is the thought that bothers you most?

I used to have some claustrophobia as a kid but it wasn't too bad. Actually, I loved being in enclosed safe places with my pillow. It's only when I felt stuck or couldn't move that it freaked me out. For example, I would have a dream of going down a tunnel. I could only go one direction (no backtracking) and it kept getting smaller and smaller. It got to the point where I would be squished but had to keep going. Maybe it has to do with the limitations of my body, the amount of access I can get in to places, or just the lack of control overall by feeling stuck. I know some people that are afraid of things that are so huge that are beyond their comprehension. I think this is the opposite spectrum. Perhaps I'm also afraid of small things because they can so easily infiltrate my body so easily and it is beyond my control.

Organic clusters do it for me...The geometric patterns imply clumping and packing to me so that is why it would disgust me, but since it's not too small or organic it doesn't bother me much at all.

These bother me the most:

Agglutinated blood, caviar (I would have my mom squish them all...I can now eat them. I just can't allow myself to think about it or stare at it), tiny boba/bubbles in bubble tea that looks like frog eggs, frog eggs, ants, insect eggs, blood cells/platelets, bone marrow, the disease that occurs on tree leaves that look like blood cells (fungus maybe?), baby spiders, poppy/sesame seeds (well they look like ants/bugs. I have no prob eating them, just can't allow myself to think about what they look like). Oh also sunflower seeds when they're lined up in the flower.

But some holes that are really fine gross me out, but I don't get as much of a reaction from the following as I do with the things above...coral, sponges, when you steam eggs!!!, when you shake up oil and water so there's mini oil bubbles everywhere (lava lamp, or other toys), frothy milk/bubbles (but I have to use my imagination there), Floam(styrofoam balls),...Holes imply something is invading something and we usually associate that to our body. Also when the holes are filled with something, that goes one step further.

And of course skin pores and pimples fascinate me. I want to clean it out, but it's not to the point where I go crazy like when I see maybe there's some OCD involved, but I don't think that's the main issue. However phobias are senseless and grossly exaggerated fears. Also I'm afraid of spiders and bugs...mainly because they can easily invade me. Yes, I know most of the time they won't try to but I get paranoid. I'm alright if I see it in the room, but if it's gone and I don't know where it went, I get scared. I don't want it to touch me or anything (I've had several bad experiences with one going in my ear). Ticks, bedbugs and parasites are nasty too because they prey on you.

I hope that this post helped some people pinpoint the origin or why they might have this fear. As you can tell, I don't have a lot figured out yet and want to get to the root cause of my fear. Overall, I think the heart of the matter is it just has to do with fear of loss of control and self-preservation.
Old 05-30-2014, 02:09 PM
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1
Fear of Swarms and Clusters!!!

I have a fear of swarms and clusters. I have tried to research what this phobia is called but I have not had any luck. Anything grouped close together whether it's moving or not gives me chills and anxiety. I believe this fear stemmed from my childhood and my eldest brothers decided to watch "Candyman" with me in the room and the swarm of bees triggered something in my brain that has stuck with me to my adult years. A cluster of small holes whether in the skin or not, even the sky view of people sparks anxiety. Love bugs causes me to panic as well!!! Along with the fear of clusters and swarms, I have this gut-wrenching fear of snakes but only real snakes whether on television or in real life. The plastic ones (unless they are life-like) does not bother me. I believe this fear was inherited from my mom, but unlike me she was afraid of any kind of snake whether fake or real. I am able to live life with normalcy; unless I see a swarm, cluster, or snake!!! As I think of it I have chills!! After I see any of the above it sticks with me mentally. No matter how much I try to erase the thought from my head at some point I constantly picture it. I am lucky to get my mind off of it every now and then, but then for some reason mentally I picture it all over again. I wish someone could help me with this fear or at least identify it for me so I can better understand my trauma!!!

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