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Scary Clowns or Coulrophobia


The term Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, is a recent word in response to a surprisingly large amount of interest in the condition, particularly on the Internet, where websites have been developed which are specifically devoted to the issue.

The word has no significant coverage in printed dictionaries or medical books, but try an Internet search on Coulrophobia and you’ll discover a host of websites by Coulrophobia (people who fear clowns) or on scary clowns, the condition being one of the most remarked-upon phobias on the Internet.


Much of the interest has originated with a man called Rodney Blackwell – a web designer who said he was seriously afflicted with the phobia. So he decided to set up several website featuring message boards where fellow Coulrophobia could share experiences and he could make some money selling trashy merchandise bearing an ‘I hate Clowns’ logo.

Causes of the phobia

In discussions of the causes of Coulrophobia, experts seem to agree that the most fear-inducing aspect of clowns is the heavy makeup which, accompanied by the bulbous nose and weird color of hair, that completely conceal the wearer’s identity.


Learned Behavior

Children often lean to be afraid of the same things their parents are afraid of. I know a person who has a phobia about bees. His father had a valid fear of bees because he was allergic to them so a sting could be life threatening. Bees were harmless to him because she was not allergic to them. He had learned to be afraid of bees from her father. Since it was instilled in him as an impressionable child, her fear was much stronger than his father’s fear of bees.

Media Hype

The increased media attention to scary clowns may also contribute to its spread. It makes people aware that others are afraid of clowns so maybe there is a reason to fear them. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Social Status

In some groups it is considered hip to dislike clowns. Although they are not actually afraid of clowns they may state that they are. I believe that this faked fear of clowns has helped create the perception that it is much more common is true.




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