Why Are People Afraid Of Clowns?

Why Are Clowns So Scary?

I watched the adaptation of IT when I was around 6 years old. From the moment I saw Tim Curry’s face change from the happy smiling clown, to the evil, rabid man eating alien, that did it for me, I hated clowns. I think Pennywise the Clown had that effect on a lot of people, which I suppose means Stephen King did a job well done.

But I don’t think the fear of clowns stops there with people. The fear of clowns is called Coulrophobia. Why do people fear clowns? A lot of people say it’s because they’re afraid they’re hiding behind the painted smile and make-up. It makes sense because it’s so easy to hide an identity behind it.

Some people dislike the laughs of clowns and believe they are evil, as they are often depicted in films such as, Killer Clowns from Outerspace, IT. Evil clowns are common theme in today’s culture.

pogo the clown
In reality, some clowns truly are evil, in the case of one John Wayne Gacy otherwise known as Pogo The Clown. Gacy was convicted for the rape and murder of 33 boys and young men in the 1970s. He liked to dress up as “Pogo The Clown” in neighborhood block parties to entertain little children. After he was caught and convicted, he spent his days on death row painted… what else? Clowns.

john-wayne-gacy-clown-art
Another theory on why people are afraid of clowns is that because clowns have permanent, overstated expressions painted on their faces – usually of joy but not always, it causes the observer to have hard time in measuring facial expression as a precursor of action and for those who are nervous of their surroundings, possibly because of past traumatic events, they are unable to interpret and therefore predict what this creature may do to them. This is heightened when we observe the “happy” clown performing some aggressive behavior – it becomes too much to take – creating intense confusion and fear.

I have to say, personally, it’s a bit of everything for me. I can’t even look at a clown without getting spooked, and John Wayne Gacy’s story certainly won’t put your mind at ease. How about you? Why are you afraid of clowns?

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