Sunderland student with “fear of small holes” speaks out about American Horror Story posters

Phobia: Lauren McLeish who has trypophobia – a condition that causes her to vomit, have panic attacks and faint.

[DISCLAIMER: This post contains images that might trigger individuals who have trypophobia]

A Sunderland student has spoken out about the latest American Horror Story (AHS) posters that trigger her trypophobia.

Posters for the new series have caused Lauren McLeish to break out into a cold sweat, causing her to remove the posts from her social media.

Miss McLeish said: “[I was] worried things would get worse if I continued to allow myself to see it. Panic attacks, sickness and vomiting are the worst things that could happen. At the very best it would be a case of just feeling nauseated and uncomfortable for a while.”

The condition has left the 21-year-old unable to view objects with small holes in them.

“I’ve been sick in the past depending on the severity of what I’ve seen. I’ve ran out of garden centres before, when I’ve seen certain flowers and greenery that has small holes,” she added.

A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.

The condition, which is classed as a phobia, affects the University of Sunderland broadcast media production student on a daily basis.

Miss McLeish said: “I’m constantly on the look out for things to avoid and know that there’s certain places I have to be really careful, like garden centres, or I’ll end up either being violently sick or fainting.

“It’s something that occupies my mind quite a lot.”

On one occassion, the student experienced a bad episode of trypophobia, due to the fear and discomfort of seeing a boat with battle holes in it.

Miss McLeish was at a museum, when she saw a large piece of metal from a ship with tiny holes in clusters across it.

As a result she had a panic attack, was violently sick and then fainted as a result of seeing the ship in such a condition.

The student from South Shields believes the condition is stigmatised.

“I think it’s overlooked as a genuine phobia. The very definition of a phobia is that it’s irrational! I’m not very open about the fact I suffer from it because I know that it wouldn’t necessarily be taken seriously, further highlighting the fact there’s a stigma attached to it.

“I think you have to experience it yourself or see someone actually go through it to get an understanding of what it’s like but I also think there’s no need to be negative about what other people find difficult and are phobic of,” she said.

Photo by Lauren McLeish.

Despite the posters triggering her condition, Miss McLeish does not want to see the posters removed.

She added: “I think they should stay. It goes with exactly what the show is which appeals to your greatest fears and it may ruin their marketing strategy to remove them.”

Be of like mind. The official poster for #AHSCult is here.

— AmericanHorrorStory (@AHSFX) July 27, 2017

If you are affected by these images or want support contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or email

For general information contact Mind’s Infoline, from 9am–6pm on weekdays, on 0300 123 3393, 86463 via text or via email at

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