Who’s Laughing Now?!

What makes clowns so scary? Is it the creepy red smile? The big shoes?  The orange hair? What is it that makes a lot of people’s stomach do flips every time they see a clown on TV or at an amusement park?

Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, is one of the top ten phobias. The term is derived from the Greek koulon, meaning limb, this refers to clowns and circus performers who walk on stilts. Coulrophobics experience symptoms ranging from mild anxiety to outright panic attacks when they see people in clown costumes or even just makeup. But why? What makes a clown, which is supposedly a symbol of fun and happiness, so scary to so many people?


Get ’Em While They’re Still Young
One popular theory about Coulrophobia is that it starts from a traumatic event during childhood. When you’re very young, even the most ordinary things can be really frightening because we don’t have a larger context in which to place them. Though you would think the circus would be a nice place for kids—with its bright colours, popcorn, cotton candy, and games—the sensory overload can be intensely upsetting to them.

That was certainly a lot of Coulrophobics experience as a child. They hated the loud sounds of the circus, but even more terrifying was the clowns’ slapstick comedy, in which they intentionally hurt each other with their pranks. Some children get unnerved so much that there are instances that they go home in tears. A clown’s ability to inflict and endure physical pain while maintaining that huge, painted smile means there’s more evil to Bozo than meets the eye.



Reality Is a Lot Scarier Than Fiction
For those of who’ve had bad experiences with clowns; the terror becomes more real than any other. After all, the fear of clowns is based on reality, rather than on fantasy. Zombies, werewolves, and vampires are horrifying in the abstract, but you don’t expect them to actually come staggering off the big screen and into our everyday lives. Clowns, on the other hand, are all too real. Way too real!


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