10 Reasons Why We Like But Secretly Fear Clowns

What is it with clowns, comical but deep down somewhat fearful?

By Madiha
10 Reasons Why We Like But Secretly Fear Clowns

Are You Scared of Clowns?

Every kid is scared of something; outside the window, in the cupboard or under the bed. There is always something that terrorizes children. It can be a scary monster, hairy beast, and even a funny-looking clown.  
Where most children and even adults are scared of something that looks scary, some are afraid of clowns; the funny looking guy who is always doing something to make people laugh.

Are you one of them? The people who are scared of clowns? What is it about the clowns that make them horrific? Does the appearance of the clown make you uncomfortable and the big smile on his face makes you shiver? Or is it something in his eyes? If you are one of those people who find clowns terrifying, you need to read on because in this article are shared reasons why people find clowns scary.

Do You Have Coulrophobia?

Phobia is an irrational or extreme fear of something. Some people are afraid of heights, others are afraid of water and some others of closed spaces; every fear has a certain name. Coulrophobia is the irrational fear of clowns. It isn’t the kind of fear that that is more like startling; it’s something beyond control. It is a kind of fear that gives you goose bumps; it keeps you awake at night and terrorizes you in broad daylight. 

How to know if you have coulrophobia or not? If it does not affect your day to day life or has not impacted you in a way that makes you feel terrified of events or places where you can get in contact with a clown then surely it is not a phobia. Coulrophobia is an intense fear of clowns that may or may not have roots in a traumatic past event. It can trigger a panic attack and nausea. If the fear of the clowns is interfering with normal functioning; it is coulrophobia. Following is a list of symptoms to help you identify if the fear of clowns is just discomfort or something serious.

The physical and psychological symptoms related to coulrophobia are
•    Panic
•    Anxiety
•    Shaking
•    Dry mouth
•    Feelings of dread
•    Preoccupation with clowns
•    Feeling of terror
•    Chest pain
•    Difficulty breathing
•    Increased heartbeat
•    Sweating
•    Intense emotions like crying, screaming, etc. 
If you experience one or more of these symptoms during an encounter with a clown or during watching a movie, you have what is called coulrophobia.

10 Reasons Why You Are Fearful of Clowns 

Whether clowns disturbed you when you were a kid or you have recently developed uncomfortable around them; there is surely a reason for the fear and discomfort. If you cannot watch a movie featuring a clown alone, avoid visiting a place where there can be a clown or cannot even think about it but still don’t know the reason behind it, please read on as we are mentioning 10 reasons why you are fearful of clowns.

1. Scary Movies

The way certain characters are picturized in movies can have an impact on the viewers. The costumes, the make-up, the dialogues, and the situations are to make those characters immortal; in pleasant or terrifying ways. Some characters leave an impression on the mind in such a way that it starts living with the person and makes their life a living hell. Pennywise the clown from the movie “IT” lives in sewers and preys upon children. The movie can surely develop a fear of clowns in children to an extent that it turns into a phobia.

2. Traumatic Past Experience

Whether it was a birthday party, a school event or a funfair; an uncomfortable encounter with a clown can develop fear in children. Since the clowns are real people in a get-up and you can’t know their mental condition (can be disturbed individuals, sociopaths, and even criminals), a weird act, a certain gesture or even looks can terrify children to an extent that they become paralyzed with terror and this feeling of trauma grows into a full-fledged phobia.

3. Clowns are Not like Normal People

Children may feel estranged around new people and strangers but that would hardly evoke fear leading to phobia. The exaggerated, large and unnatural features of the clowns can be a reason why people especially children get afraid of them. Another reason for being afraid of clowns can be the inability to know actual facial features hidden behind the masked features. The big smile painted on the face of a clown may have hidden behind it a face that is the opposite of what it looks like.

4. Clowns are Unpredictable

Any unpredictable act can scare a person. Clowns are known for being untrustworthy. No one knows or can predict what they are going to do next. They can throw a pie in your face and spray water on you during one of their acts. The way they pull a stunt when no one is expecting makes them unreliable. This is the basic nature of man that he fears unstable and unnatural things or acts and marks them as unsafe. The feel of insecurity evokes fear which can take the shape of phobia in a few people.

5. Clowns are Creepy

Anything that deviates from natural becomes somewhat creepy. Bigmouth and bulging eyes, colorful clothes and abnormally big feet make clowns creepy and scary for many. Although not everything that looks creepy can be terrifying clowns can leave you petrified by making a loud noise accompanied by a sudden jump in front of you or “eye am watching you” gesture.

6. Clowns are Not Funny Anymore

There was a time when clowns for solely made part of any show to make people laugh at their funny acts. TV shows, circuses, and movies featured clowns to lighten up the environment. Since movies like Poltergeist, It, Clown, Krampus, and Stitches, clowns are not funny anymore. The jumpy, laughing and bubbly character has turned into supernatural, human/child-killing monsters. After watching those movies, even if you consider them harmless, deep down you will fear them.

7.    Learned Fear of Clowns

Not all, but some fears are learned behaviors. If a sibling, friend, parent or a loved one is afraid of something, we usually develop a fear of the same thing. This learned fear is not as intense as innate fear but can be quite restraining. 

8. Clown Hysteria

Once an idea gains popularity, you start seeing it everywhere; even on the streets. Clown hysteria started after the popularity clowns gained through movies like “It”. When the killer clown phenomenon began, even the Times magazine called it Clown Hysteria. Creepy clowns started doing strange things on the streets and the video footage goes viral. In Alabama alone, 9 clown-related arrests were made. Although most of them were pranksters it also stirred a wave of fear among masses around the world. It was the time when Americans were more afraid of clowns than terrorist attacks.

9. Fear of Unknown

Clowns were brought at the hospitals to cheer up sick and ailing kids. Several studies found out that the clowns, instead of cheering the kids up, terrified most of the kids. The fear of clowns has increased because of their appearance in horror movies but it was also found that children who had not watched any such movies also feared clowns because of how they looked and behaved. 
Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27966019 

10. The Uncanny Effect

A thing that is familiar and unfamiliar at the same time is categorized as “uncanny”. Freud believed that humans fear things that look familiar but have unfamiliar characteristics as well. Dolls, robots, zombies, and clowns come under this category as they look like humans but are different in several ways. Distorted features, exaggerated makeup, unusual clothing, oversized shoes and weird hairstyles of the clowns create an effect that scares people.   

How Do I Overcome My Fear of Clowns?

Fear of clowns is real. From mere discomfort to night terrors, fear of clowns can turn into coulrophobia for the weak of heart. It all comes down to how you developed it and what were the reasons behind this intense feeling of fear. If the cause has been identified, you can work on overcoming the fear of clowns. There are several tried and tested methods to overcome or remarkably reduce your coulrophobia.  

1.    Identify the Cause

If you want to treat your phobia, you need to understand the root cause of it. 

2.    Understand that it’s an Act

Clowns are human wearing a costume. If it is in a movie, the clown is a character and is simply playing its part. The same goes for circuses and other events.

3.    Expose Yourself Slowly

The more you avoid the things you fear, the more the fear gets intensified. To overcome a fear of anything, you need to come in face-to-face contact with it. You can take it slowly but this is how you overcome an irrational fear of anything.

4.    Meet a Clown Backstage

It might not be easy but meeting a clown backstage and viewing them getting ready for the act can help you overcome your fear. You will get to see the actual person behind that makeup and realize that he isn’t as scary as you perceive him.

5.    Read a Book

Overcome Your Fear of Clowns: How To Stop Your Coulrophobia: Angie Walters

Angie Walters has written a book titled “Overcome Your Fear of Clowns”. In this book, you will find everything about coulrophobia. From its origin to causes and treatment, the book is a self-help guide on how to lessen your fear and overcome your phobia of clowns.

6.    Seek Medical Help

Sometimes phobias can become life-threatening. If your symptoms have intensified and nothing seems to work, you should immediately seek medical attention. There are several therapeutic interventions that can treat phobias very effectively. 

Related Article: 20 Ways To Grow Into A Fearless & Mentally Strong Person
20 Ways To Grow Into A Fearless & Mentally Strong Person

Do you want to be a fearless and mentally strong person? Here are 20 ways that you can transform yourself into the person you want to be.


Circus, birthday parties and outdoor events are all fun and excitement but if you are avoiding these events because you are afraid of bumping into the giggly cheerful guy called “clown”, you, my friend, are on the verge of developing coulrophobia. It is about time you start looking for symptoms, causes, and treatment so you can watch “clown movies” just the way your friends do; fearlessly.  



Popular on Panda Gossips