Bad Experiences In Childhood
Bad experiences when you are young can also cause phobia of clowns. Children who were scared by evil clowns in horror movies tend to carry that fear into their adulthood and eventually develop a phobia of clowns.
Kids who were exposed to scary pictures or images of clowns or personally met someone similar to a masked person might also get affected by this type of phobia.
What Is The Most Common Phobia
7 Most Common Phobias & How They Affect PatientsArachnophobia Arachnophobia is possibly the most well-known of all phobias. Ophidiophobia Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes. Acrophobia Acrophobia, or fear of heights, affects over 20 million people. Aerophobia Aerophobia is fear of flying and affects an estimated 8 million people.More itemsMay 30, 2019
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The Uncanny Valley Effect
Its important to remember that clowns are people. People in elaborate costumes, but people nonetheless. As a result, they have human bodies and faces, like everyone else. But this is where problems arise.
The uncanny valley effect is a phenomenon whereby things that look human but arent quite there are incredibly unsettling. It appears to be a fundamental reflex. Slap a pair of googly eyes on a sock and youve got yourself a loveable puppet that nobody has any issue with, but a highly-realistic android with an almost-but-not-quite-identical face to that of a real human is often very off-putting. Ventriloquist dummies share a similar scary reputation to clowns, likely for this reason.
One theory is that they make us think of death and corpses which should be avoided due to danger and risk of illness. But whatever the underlying cause, human faces that deviate from the norm are upsetting. And clown faces differ in very elaborate ways the huge painted-on smiles, the crude colours, the greatly-exaggerated eyes, all of these and more combine to provide a recognisably-human face which doesnt behave as it should, which is very unsettling on a deep subconscious level.
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Harmless Harlequins Or Killer Clowns
Monsters, ghosts and ghouls, oh my!
Halloween is right around the corner and people are getting spooked at haunted houses, going out trick-or-treating and looking their scariest for Halloween parties.
For some people, though, theres one costume that may be more unnerving than the rest: Clowns.
But why are people afraid of clowns? How did the modern-day jester become a scary Halloween costume and movie icon? Having a clinical phobia of clowns is rare, but it does exist. For most people, a fear of clowns is probably a combination of human psychology, mixed signals and pop culture.
CoulrophobiaIf you or someone you know experiences extreme fear and panic of something that is ultimately harmless, you may have a phobia.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that fixates an irrational fear on an object thats not actually harmful. Phobias can cause panic attacks, sweating and nausea. There are many types of phobias and many different triggers. General phobias such as agoraphobia are triggered by being in crowds of people, leaving home or traveling alone. Things like heights, blood, animals, spiders and more can trigger isolated phobias. Coulrophobia or literally a fear of someone who walks on stilts, is the unofficial word for the irrational fear of clowns. This term arose sometime around 1980, but is not yet an officially recognized phobia by the World Health Organization.
And you might want to steer clear of that sewer grate.
Why Do We Avoid Eye Contact
For those without a diagnosed mental health condition, avoidance of eye contact could be related to shyness or a lack of confidence. Looking someone in the eye while speaking can feel uncomfortable for those without a lot of practice making conversation or who tend to prefer not being in the spotlight.
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The Animals That Are Most Often The Object Of This Phobia Are:
- Spiders, in this case we speak of arachnophobia
- Dogs, whose phobia is called cynophobia
- Mice, in this case it is musophobia
- Snakes, whose phobia is called ophiophobia
- Cats, in this case we speak of ailurophobia
- Birds, in this case it is an ornithophobia
Among the fears associated with animals, there are also some wacky phobias that dont actually exist, such as Anatidaephobia. It is the strange fear of being watched by a duck. Another absurd phobia: luposlipaphobia, which corresponds to the irrational fear of finding yourself running around a table in socks. Pursued by a pack of wolves, when the floor has just been waxed.
Certain Behaviours Can Be Creepy
This is the case for some people, according to the work of Frank T. McAndrew, a social psychologist who has become something of an expert in clown fears. He , which can help explain the disconcerting feeling clowns give rise to for many of us.
McAndrew and colleagues recruited 1,341 volunteers aged 18 to 77 and asked them to fill out a survey about the characteristics and behaviours they saw as creepy. The results showed men are more likely to be seen as creepy, and unpredictable behaviours made people uncomfortable, such as strange patterns of eye contact.
Clown characteristics such as a big mouth and bulging eyes were not seen as particularly creepy on their own, but they did enhance the creepiness of inappropriate behaviours, like vulgar conversation topics, or bringing lizards to the office. The occupation right at the top of the list for creepiness was, in fact, clowns.
The results were consistent with my theory that getting creeped out is a response to the ambiguity of threat and that it is only when we are confronted with uncertainty about threat that we get the chills,said McAndrew.
For example, it would be considered rude and strange to run away in the middle of a conversation with someone who is sending out a creepy vibe but is actually harmless at the same time, it could be perilous to ignore your intuition and engage with that individual if he is, in fact, a threat. The ambivalence leaves you frozen in place, wallowing in discomfort.
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Inferiority And Superiority Complexes
Throughout history, part of a clowns purpose was to help with the spectators self-esteem. Court jesters were meant to be laughed at for being so stupid, and clowns are often the same.
In a study by the Theodora Foundation, the researchers traveled with clowns to pediatric hospitals in Ontario, Canada. In their findings, the researchers mentioned that children may feel better about themselves if they can laugh at someone else for being silly or stupid. This gives terminally ill children a desperately needed ego boost.
However, this type of humor may not be the best for the average person. According to Psychology Today, people who act superior toward others are actually very insecure and are seeking reassurance from others to feel good about themselves. According to Greater Good, a University of California, Berkeley, publication, happy people do not feel the need to be superior to others.
In short, the average person with a fair amount of happiness and self-esteem does not seek to laugh at someone like a clown. Since many people do not want or need that kind of laughter in their lives, it feels uncomfortable to be around a clown who is trying to force it upon you.
Physical And Psychological Symptoms Of Coulrophobia
Physical and psychological symptoms of this phobia include but are not limited to the following:
Profuse sweating Crying or screaming from fear Anger or agitation from being near a clown Shortness of breath Anxiousness, anxiety or a severe panic Shaking from fear
Managing these symptoms are one way of dealing with your fear of clowns, but you can attempt to overcome the phobia by going a bit deeper.
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Can You Be Diagnosed With Coulrophobia
If your fear of clowns is beyond reason or affecting your quality of life, it might be best to see a mental health specialist who can help determine if you have coulrophobia.
They will ask how you feel when you see a clown, when your fear of clowns started, and if you always respond this way. Theyll also ask if you actively avoid clowns and how behaviors related to the phobia affect your life.
Your provider will also want to rule out any other possible medical conditions that could explain your symptoms, such as paranoid personality disorder and panic disorder .
Villainous Clowns In Books And Movies
The roots of clown phobia are within the media especially the films and books that depict clowns as villains. Many movies and plays have depicted villainous clowns or actors playing a villain taking up the disguise of a clown.
What strikes Coulrophobic people the most is the fact that what was expected to be an entertaining and funny character suddenly turns into something sinister?
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Why Are People Afraid Of Clowns
Coulrophobia is no laughing matter. This irrational fear of clowns can cause panic and nausea. Although its a rare phobia, many people find clowns creepy if not downright scary. Why? The answer lies partly in the prevalence of evil clowns in popular culturethink Pennywise in Stephen Kings It . However, according to researchers, there are actual psychological reasons why we fear clowns.
To begin with, a clowns makeup can be unsettling. It hides not only the persons identity but also that persons feelings. Worse, the makeup can result in mixed signals if, for example, the clown has a painted-on smile but is frowning. Then, theres the uncanny nature of the makeup itself. The oversized lips and eyebrows distort the face so that the brain perceives it as human but slightly off. That oddness is heightened by a clowns bizarre costume. In addition, clowns are highly unpredictable as well as mischievous, which puts people on edge. Are they going to squirt water at you or give you a flower?
They Just Arent Funny Anymore
Throughout time, popular comedy has changed depending on current events and a natural evolution of cultural taste. For example, if we see a clown falling on a banana peel or hitting their friend over the head with a giant hammer, this would be an example of physical, or slapstick, comedy. However, slapstick has not been popular for some time because society has too much sympathy for the pain of other human beings.
Our discomfort with clowns could partially be attributed to cultural changes in what we find funny. In an interview with NPR, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie mentions that people were wary of clowns for years. Then, in the 1960s, clowns had a sudden rise in popularity with characters like Ronald McDonald and Bozo the Clown. McRobbie believes that their popularity was simply a fad and that society is back to its normal state, which is to see clowns as creepy rather than funny.
Children and adults alike may become confused and uncomfortable when they are expected to laugh at something they simply do not find to be funny. It is common for people, especially children, to feel social anxiety and fear in situations where they are not sure how to react.
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Terrifying The Master Of Terror
But if youre spooked by clowns, youre in good company. Writer Stephen King, famed master of the horror-fiction genre and creator of the demonic clown Pennywise in the novel It, told the Bangor Daily News on Sept. 9 that clowns really can be terrifying.
King admitted that seeing a clown outside of the characters typical context, such as a circus or a birthday party, could be unnerving yes, even for him.
If I saw a clown lurking under a lonely bridge , Id be scared, too, King said.
Clown phobias aside, a typical circus or birthday party clown is unlikely to cause anyone harm. However, officials in Greenville are still on the lookout for people behaving suspiciously while dressed as clowns, and have announced plans to arrest and charge anyone violating standing city ordinances against wearing costumes and identity-concealing masks in public spaces.
Unless, of course, it happens to be Halloween.
Originally published on Live Science.
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What Are The Cures For Coulrophobia
Just like treating other phobias, curing fear often isnt easy.
Cognitive behaviour therapy can be used to help sufferers change their unproductive thought patterns.
This allows them to distinguish that their intense fear is in their imagination.
Other treatment that is taken on by acrophobic patients includes behaviour therapy, counselling and hypnosis.
In some cases, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed to help relieve the stressful symptoms.
Causes Of The Fear Of Clowns
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 someones 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.
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing
This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders. It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia.
First, the therapist collects the patients history of different fears. They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has.
They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks.
People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli.
The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear.
In the case of Coulrophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of clowns. They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients feared stimuli.
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They Are Creepy And Hard To Sympathize With
When clowns have makeup on, they typically stay in character at all times. With regular actors, the public is accustomed to understanding a general idea about their career.
We also understand that there is a difference between the person we see on the cover of magazines and the behind-the-scenes clips versus the characters they play on TV or in movies. It is easy for us to understand that acting is a job, but it is very difficult to comprehend the motivations behind wanting to perform as a clown as a career choice.
In the textbook titled New Ideas in Psychology, researcher Francis McAndrew conducted a study, explaining different stimuli that constitute creepiness. He defines being creeped out as feeling slightly threatened but not enough to run away.
So you wallow in a sense of discomfort and unease while being around this person because you are ignoring your natural instincts to run away due to politeness. When McAndrew polled people on their opinions of every occupation that exists, clowns were considered to be the most creepyeven more than funeral directors and taxidermists.
What Does Coulrophobia Mean
Coulrophobia is the abnormal fear of clowns.
Some people have phobias, which are fears associated with specific objects or activities. These abnormal fears are typically considered irrational because the object of the fear isnt usually harmful. Often, these fears are formed around a traumatic event.
Many people have a fear of clowns, but usually it doesnt rise to the level of true coulrophobia.
Example: I could never go to the circus because I have coulrophobia.
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What Causes Coulrophobia
As stated above, representations of evil clowns in media is a big contributor for instilling this phobia in young or anxious minded adults.
Clowns and court jesters have been around for thousands of years. Even Emperors and kings in Egypt, China and Europe allowed their court Jesters to mock them where no else could. It was a pretty important position in court. The clown or the Fool was the village idiot who was allowed to be blasphemous. He might have been a harmless eccentric who was obscenely humorous or uninhibited in his sexual acts. In fact: in many Pueblo tribal celebrations, clowns performed sexual acts like masturbation, intercourse, sodomy etc in front of the entire tribe. These associations are known to exist in modern pop culture and media representations.
Psychologists also believe that, like in case of other specific phobias, the fear of clowns could be deeply rooted in childhood, mainly because children below the age of 4 years are highly reactive to familiar body type and unfamiliar faces. One phobic, for example, recalls having visited a fair as a young girl where she encountered a foul-smelling, yellow-teethed clown who got in her face.
What Is A Phobia
A phobia is described by the NHS as an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.
They are more pronounced than fears and tend to develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger regarding a situation or object.
If a phobia sufferer doesnt come into contact with the source of their problem very often it may not affect their life although in some cases even thinking about the thing they fear can give a person anticipatory anxiety.
If a phobia becomes very severe, the person suffering may organise their life around avoiding the aspect thats causing distress.
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