FEAR OF HOLES: Trypophobia and other things that keep Houston on edge

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- While we believe Houstonians are some of the bravest people around, there are a handful of things that really creep us out. Oddly enough, a sponge might be one of them.

We turned to Google Trends to analyze all the ways a Houstonian might get the heebie jeebies, and learned many of you might suffer from trypophobia: a fear of holes.

In a January 2015 paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, An T. D. Le, Geoff G. Cole and Arnold J. Wilkins described a sometimes intense phobia people have for irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps.

Few studies have been conducted to explain why this fear exists, but some researchers theorize the phobia formed over the course of human history, associating trypophobic shapes with danger or disease.

The term trypophobia first popped onto the scene on an online discussion board in 2005, but according to Google Trends, did not enter Houston's consciousness until 2009.

HOUSTON'S GREATEST FEARS: Search trends since 2004

Searches for "fear of holes" in the Houston area have surged since 2012, hitting a peak in the month following Hurricane Harvey.

According to figures from Google Trends, there was a 151 percent increase in searches in September 2017 for 'fear of holes' in Houston. Could fear of snake holes or even sinkholes after the floods spurred the sudden surge in interest?

Whatever the case, a fear of holes captivates Houston, just behind a fear of heights (35 percent of searches) and a fear of clowns (25 percent of searches), according to Google's data.

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Specific phobias are distinguished by an intense and "irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger" and limited to a very specific thing or situation.

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