Clowns are supposed to be funny entertaining kids and providing them amusement. But many of us do not feel very comfortable when we encounter a clown.
Behind the painted face we get the sense of something sinister and unsettling. Turns out that this fear of clown is not a rare thing and there is actually a term for it.
Coulrophobia: Phobia of the Clown
A face painted white, a huge red nose and large polka dot tie- clowns don’t seem very natural from the beginning!
Coulrophobia is used to describe people who are scared of clown. It is not an official diagnosis and not recognized by the WHO. It is a recent happening and doctors and scientists know very little about it.
The condition leads to physical symptoms similar to fear like panic, irregular or racing heartbeat, nausea and sweating. The trend is more common in children than in adults.
The Right Ingredient for Horror Movies!
The fearful and sinister image has been used to create the scariest screen clowns in many movies around the world. The face of the clown has sent chills down our spines and paced up our heartbeats more than any ghost movie.
We can take the example of the classic horror movie of Stephen King, “It”. We can see Pennywise, the serial killer clown spreading terror among the audience.
Mention should also be made of movies like Poltergeist where the creepy crown doll in the movie prompted many children to their toy clowns. Apart from horror movies there have been many horror games featuring scary clowns found in portals like the Red Flush casino. You could play for hours, either for free or fair real money.
Yet, while all that is great, have you wondered what makes us scared of clowns in the first place? Let’s find out!
To understand that, let’s look at a bit of the origins of clowns in the first place.
The Origin of Clowns
Fools or comedians were the staple entertainment in the ancient Greek and Roman theatre. These “clown” characters were funny, but also brought up the harsh realities of life and suffering in their performance. Clowns usually portrayed a rustic buffoon characters and continued to be an important part of the daily entertainment all the way to medieval times.
Later the jesters of Shakespeare also portrayed themes of dark revelations and death. You can take the fool of King Lear as an example.
In the 19th century when modern circus became popular, clown characters started to develop as we know them today – with their white make up and oversized clothes and shoes.
The Uncanny Mask
You know nothing about the man or his emotions behind the clown face. He can be a jolly fellow or even a depressed soul. The mask hides emotions and renders an uncanny feeling in us.
Freud had proposed this notion of uncanny where the distorted image of something triggers feelings of uneasiness.
Clowns that Kill
Some real life clowns had the sinister element in themselves strengthening the fearful notions. John Wayne Gacy, a clown who performed birthday parties and events was a serial killer. He killed, assaulted and tortured more than 33 young men prior to his arrest.
Though it didn’t involve any killing, a series of events described as “creepy clowns” occurred globally in Europe, Asia, Canada and US in 2016. Creepy looking clowns were found hanging around in neighborhoods, woods and other places just like in games of Red Flush casino.
History, culture, movies and psychology condition us to be scared of clowns.