Discovering new phobias: Coulrophobia

Ola Rembiszewska, In-Depth Editor

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An interesting fear that many people surprisingly experience, only recently becoming more common is Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. With movies like “IT” and “American Horror Story”, glorifying clowns as these creepy creatures, it is logical that people are starting to fear them. 

The fear of clowns only got more prominent recently, in 2016, when people started doing scary clown pranks. In some situations, people dressed up as clowns to commit serious crimes, like the John Wayne Gacy case where he dressed up as a “killer clown” and raped and murdered 33 male victims. Around Halloween time in 2015-2016, many people also chose to dress up as clowns, often hiding in bushes and jumping out at passerby’s to scare them. Dressing up as a clown for Halloween is still common today, causing further display of clowns as these evil beings. According to TheSun, a magazine company in the UK, people with Coulrophobia may be shaken or traumatized just by the thought of clowns. Studies show that the fear of clowns may also be because of their portrayal in movies, TV shows and social media outlets. 

Another factor may be because of their unusual and unnatural facial features made by makeup or with the use of masks. This causes the brain to pick up these facial features as a warning sign or threat. 

It is difficult to treat patients with this phobia, but if symptoms are severe, patients may undergo cognitive behavior therapy,  a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns.

Coulrophobia is a strange, but fascinating fear, that surprisingly affects many people globally, around 12% of adults, in most cases starting at a young age. 

 

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