I recently did a project on phobias, specifically coulrophobia. Coulrophobia is the abnormal fear of clowns. I thought I'd share a few things I learned about this condition.
Those unfamiliar with phobias should know that they are defined by an irrational fear of a specific object, situation, or activity. Some sufferers will experience a tightness of breath, sweating, nausea, shaking, or trouble speaking. They are often caused by a traumatic event or genetic predisposition. Ten million americans suffer from phobias and women are twice as affected than men. Some treatments for phobias consist of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, flooding, and medication.
Coulrophobia is one of the most common phobias around. I happen to suffer from it as well. The first time I went to the circus was around the age 7 with my father. I never liked people touching me as a kid. I was always taught never to make eye contact, speak, or touch strangers. Within minutes of settling into my seat, some strange clown marches over to me and begins to pinch my chubby cheeks. My initial response is to kick him as hard as I can. Let me tell you there's nothing scarier than an angry clown who's just been kicked in the shin. Well, I never went back to the circus and I never trusted clowns again.
So what is it about clowns that is so scary? When you think about it, it's impossible to gauge a clown's true intentions. The painted on smiles make it hard to differentiate if the clown is friendly and happy or evil and menacing. The exaggerated features can be very unsettling especially for a child. It kind of all goes back to the fear of the unknown.
Of course later in life, my fear was heightened by movies like IT and KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE. Let's not forget Pogo the clown aka John Wayne Gacy or Crazy Joe Davola from Seinfeld. I was always convinced that Bozo and Cookie were secretly child molesters. And have you ever been to Circus Circus in Las Vegas? That place is like a bad acid trip!
Many celebrities also have a fear of clowns. Daniel Radcliffe aka Harry Potter has openly talked about his fear of clowns. Johnny Depp has mentioned having nightmares as a child about evil clowns leering at him. P Diddy has a "no clown" policy in his tour contract.
My fear has subsided a bit as I've gotten older. I still cringe at the thought of the circus however. It's strange how one little experience in our childhood can affect the rest of our lives. What are you afraid of?