Coulrophobia (coul¦ro|phobia) n: Extreme or irrational fear of clowns.
I know I’m not alone when I say I am scared of clowns. A lot of people I’ve acquainted myself with will say the same. Additionally, some more will say they are only fearful of the sad-faced clowns, or creepy-looking clowns, or Pagliacci-type clowns, but not afraid of kid’s birthday party/circus clowns.
My uncle (actually, a family friend) is really a clown. He doesn’t paint on a smile and wear a ridiculous dotted onesie with fluffy buttons, and a gentler, less-scary man you will never meet. But whenever I visited their house, the pictures and the clown paraphernalia gave me the willies. It’s just funny to me that I actually grew up with a great reason not to be afraid, but here I am.
The BBC’s report on the study [of coulrophobia] featured a child psychologist who broadly declared, “Very few children like clowns. They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don’t look funny, they just look odd.” *
Well, that and a little movie called Poltergeist.
This is not to say that I find clowns who are purposely trying to be terrifying scary at all. I loved the clown on American Horror Story. I’m not afraid of horror at all, I’m really not afraid of anything that is trying to be scary, because it is not inherently scary. Its scariness only exists outside of me, yet what people are afraid of is personal and specific to them.
I have a number of related fears that support the reason I think that I fear clowns. I think I fear anything with a face that is either expressionless and/or not their own and/or does not express itself in a way that matches its voice. Ventriloquist dummies, baby dolls and those Citibank identity theft commercials (like the one with the man sitting with his beer talking about his outfit that “lifts and separates!”) all flip me out for the same reason that clowns do. I just have no idea why I think the concept itself disturbs me so much.
What I just typed is resounding in my head. I think I call it “fear” but it is actually “disturbed”… probably other people confuse the two as well and say “I’m afraid of clowns” or “I don’t like scary clowns”. What I don’t get, though, is why I am so disturbed as to react fearfully. I love all things disturbing. I’m macabre in the way that I seek out that “off” feeling, and yet, when faced with this specific type of disturbance, I get all sorts of panicky.
The therapy I need is not for fear of clowns, it is for why am I so weird that only specific facets of my weirdness frighten me. Why are none of the children related to me or borne of my friends allowed to own or play with a baby doll? I’m not afraid of Barbie or action figures, it is just baby dolls, and of course clown dolls. Why?
I do believe I need help!
* Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-and-psychology-of-clowns-being-scary-20394516/#Wc6uzhyEVQGiCqYx.99
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