Do you have a phobia of clowns? Do you know somebody who has? Are clowns now portrayed as scary rather than entertaining? Why has the perception of a clown now changed? In this short blog, I will give my views on clowns and why I feel the fear of them is rising so dramatically.

Clowns have been around for years, they were first known as a comedy act seen in circus acts and theatres during the 19th – 20th century where they would play the role of a fool and everyday tasks would prove to be difficult providing the audience with a few laughs. Clowns were always portrayed as funny and friendly, they were booked for children’s birthday parties to provide entertainment such as balloon making etc. There are numerous friendly clowns that we have all grown to know and love as children and even as adults. Some examples are;

  • Ronald McDonald (McDonalds mascot)
  • Krusty the Clown (The Simpsons)
  • Binky the Clown (Garfield Comic)

There are many more clowns you may remember over the years, some more than others as they have been around for centuries. There are not only good, friendly clowns though we also have a lot if not more now evil clowns in the modern day. Some examples are;

  • Pennywise (IT)
  • The Joker (Batman)
  • Pogo the Clown (Gacy)
  • Billy (Saw)
  • Twisty (American Horror Story)

Evil clowns are now more common than good as they add a fear factor and seem to be more popular with most the public. However, this is not the case for everyone as clown fear is on the rise and more people are becoming afraid of clowns especially in the younger generation. Some people even have a phobia of clowns, this is known as ‘coulrophobia’ Clowns are being used in many ways to make them evil whether it be for film/tv, Halloween costumes or in serious cases to cause crime. If you just do a simple Google search for ‘clowns’ now the first thing that comes up is ‘killer clown’ ‘clown prank’ This just goes to show that the evil/killer clown is becoming more popular as it is getting a lot more hits on search engines such as Google and YouTube.

Facts & Statistics

Coulrophobia is not laughing matter. More people are being diagnosed with the phobia than ever due to the change in perception of clowns. Some were even afraid of clowns before they ‘turned evil’ so I dread to think how they are feeling now. Symptoms of coulrophobia are;

  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Nausea (actual vomiting in the presence of a clown is rare but can happen)
  • Trembling in any part of the body
  • Pins and needles feeling
  • Increased heart beat
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing regularly
  • Crying and/or screaming
  • Intense feeling of terror or dread

Some statistics for coulrophobia are as follows;

  • Coulrophobia is found to be much more prevalent in children, and in fact the majority of children are at least made uncomfortable by clowns (a 2008 University of Sheffield study discovered this when looking to redecorate a children’s hospital ward– needless to say, clowns were out of the question after that).
  • The fear is actually so prevalent among children that clowns who visit hospitals will usually wait in a child’s doorway and only enter the room if invited to do so by the young patient.
  • Many people with coulrophobia may also have at least some level of fear when it comes to Santa Claus, and children with the phobia have expressed fear of “going to see Santa” around the holidays.
  • It is believed that the phobia is triggered in many people by traumatic events at a young age, either involving clowns, clown material, or masked figures.
  • Some researchers even believe that cases of the phobia spiked in the early 1990s after the film adaptation of Itcame out in 1990, and after Jack Nicholson portrayed the Joker in 1989’s Batman (Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight may have contributed to people’s fears as well).
  • The phobia is estimated to afflict around 12 percent of American adults, and the numbers may be similar in other countries

My views on clowns

I myself have never had any problems with clowns, they have never really scared me and I don’t really find them that entertaining either truthfully… I was never interested in them as a child either. I feel the ‘killer clown’ or ‘evil clown’ has stemmed from new films and TV shows which have portrayed the clowns in that way. I have recently watched the new IT film which was based on the original film back in 1990 and like the original the clown is a killer who keeps bodies. I have also been watching a TV series called American Horror Story. This specific season has the involvement of a cult who commit crimes such as murder whilst disguised as clowns. However, these are no normal clowns we would usually be used to, they are very creepy, strange looking I have shown an example below;

I believe programmes such as American Horror Story have made more people want to dress up for Halloween as an evil clown too, I noticed this year a lot more people as clowns than the previous and I believe this trend will continue for the next few years as it seems very popular. I do feel very sorry for those who have a fear of clowns as this could cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. I honestly don’t know how to tackle the issues though, I don’t think TV shows etc will stop using clowns as an evil, scary character due to the popularity they have which will only mean more views, more money for the broadcasters etc. It’s also impossible to stop people dressing up as clowns for Halloween. I believe the best thing those who fear clowns or have a phobia is seek help from a counsellor or therapist to help tackle and beat your phobia. It will take time and a lot of effort, but it would be worth it in the long run.

Thank you for reading.