The fear of clowns is pretty common and fairly well documented. It actually has an official name – Coulrophobia … clown phobia.
When you think about it though it’s quite a strange phobia as clowns are supposed to make people laugh and be happy! They are most associated with the circus, kids parties, amusing antics and generally having fun.
As kids we are expected to like clowns – and, don’t get me wrong, many do. But for others they stimulate feelings of hatred and fear – merely the sight of a clown can send certain children into panic.
It follows on that when a child develops a fear of clowns it’s highly likely to grow into an adult with coulrophobia. The reverse is not necessarily true either such phobias can start at any age so it’s possible that a coulrophobic adult had no fear of clowns as a child.
Coulrophobia is the scientific name referring to the fear of clowns. According to Healthline, an American website that provides health information and advice, 7.8% of Americans experience this fear. This statistic shows that if you are suffering from this phobia, you are not alone. Scientists further assert that the 1990’s film, IT, directed by Steven Spielberg, fueled the rise of coulrophobia. In fact, researchers attribute the many cases of this phobia today to that particular film. They affirm that it was since the production of the film that the number of people suffering from the fear of clowns increased.
What other people experience with joy, people suffering from coulrophobia find it hard to cope with. For example, a person with the fear of clowns finds it difficult to remain calm in events like festivals where people dress as clowns. The dreadful feeling that people experience whenever they see a clown is what makes them uneasy. It’s important to point out that the irrational fear of clowns affects both children and adults. Knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for coulrophobia is helpful in managing the condition. Learn more about coulrophobia below.
There are various causes associated with coulrophobia. Traumatic experiences happen to be one of them. Just like it is for many phobias, the fear of clowns finds its way into someone’s life as a result of a past traumatic experience involving clowns. It could be that a person had an experience with a clown that inflicted intense and lasting fear. From that moment, the brain records that clowns are terrifying and once you meet them you should flee from them. This explains why people who face traumatic experiences might stay with the haunting feeling for a long time, if something is not done about it. Children, in particular, can experience traumatic events that fuel the development of coulrophobia early in their life. According to FEAROF, Psychologists point out that children below the age of 4 are highly reactive to unfamiliar faces. If they are exposed to clowns at this age, chances are high that they may develop this phobia.
Pop culture and media also contribute to people developing this fear. There are so many scary films in the entertainment industry today. This is an industry that continues to grow with every passing day. Thus, when people glue themselves to such forms of entertainment, it’s likely that this fear will develop. There is an association between terrifying clowns in different forms and platforms of media and people being frightened by them. Healthline highlights that watching too many of these films and videos can have a big impact on someone in regards to coulrophobia. Especially for young people who have a lot of time to spend watching scary films, those who are not emotionally strong can find themselves developing the unreasonable fear of clowns. However, there are people who can view a frightening clown in a film just once and the brain records it as something to be afraid of.
Learned phobia is also another cause of coulrophobia, though this one is less common. Through repeated learning and experiencing a particular thing or phenomenon, it automatically becomes part of you. Getting rid of what one has learned in such a way can be difficult. This is where the concept of learned phobia comes in. Learned phobia simply means that a person learns the fear of clowns from someone very close or from a trusted figure. Given that people learn more about the world from the older people they look up to, when they see them being afraid of clowns, they also tend to develop the same fear. For example, if a child sees his mother being terrified by clowns, he may grow up knowing that clowns should be feared.
There are physical and mental symptoms associated with coulrophobia. The following are some of them:
You weren’t born with particular fears or anxiety – instead you have developed them along your life journey so far. In very simple terms Hypnotherapy works by re-setting the mind to produce the rational response to a specific situation or environment that you had before the phobia was initially triggered off. Find Out More >
Neuro-linguistic programming or NLP combines neurology and linguistics and creates a sort of programming that helps people change their thinking habits, help them deal with anxiety, stress, depression and overcome particular fears. In short, this means taking a specific fear or phobia and disassociating and reframing the experience to prevent the irrational response. Find Out More >
In simple terms Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT as it’s more commonly referrred to, is a talking therapy which takes your specific issue, fear or specific phobia and focusses on your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and how they affect your behaviour and emotions in respect of this issue. It takes on the notion that your thoughts (cognition) creates emotions which, in turn, controls our reactions (behaviour). Find Out More >
If the mere thought or sight of a clown fills you with fear and terror then take a look at one of our recommended, self-help treatment programs that are all guaranteed, proven and effective.