An advertising campaign for the new season of “American Horror Story” has been giving people panic attacks with its disturbing, hole-covered imagery, and the underlying cause is a rare but intense feeling of disgust that scientists are still trying to figure out.
Trypophobia, this fear of clustered holes, bumps, and similar patterns, affects around 15% of the general population.
Some researchers think that the fear is an evolutionary instinct ingrained in humans to avoid dangerous, hole-covered formations in nature, like bee-hives or other poisonous structures.
In this season of “American Horror Story: Cult,” actress Sarah Paulson’s character suffers from trypophobia, and as CNN notes, her overwhelming fear in the first episode of holes in her souffle and a piece of coral in her therapist’s office has also affected viewers with the same condition.
One woman, Jennifer Adresen, told CNN that she had a “full-blown panic attack” with nausea upon seeing the show’s promotional posters for the first time.
Many people have since taken to Twitter to complain about the show’s preoccupation with holes as a triggering mechanism. Some have even diagnosed themselves as having trypophobia.
The scariest part of #AHS is all these tiny holes all over the place. They have me looking at people's pores all kinds of different.
— ?MM? (@BMM194) September 20, 2017
— Ayana Fakhir (@lawgurrl) September 20, 2017
I thought I was the only one that was disgusted by a cluster of holes. Trypophobia is the reason why I can't watch the new season of AHS. 🙁
— Cynthia (@cyn_fox) September 19, 2017
watching the new season of AHS and Sara Paulson's character has a phobia of tightly grouped together holes, and now i don't feel so weird.
— Devòn (@devonrobinson97) September 17, 2017
— jaderrsss???? (@bellavitaoxxo) September 6, 2017
“American Horror Story: Cult” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.