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10 Psychological Reasons Why People Find Clowns Scary

Many individuals experience real coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. Even without a full-blown phobia, everyone seems to agree that clowns are just a bit frightening. But have you ever wondered why? Rationally, a clown is merely an individual wearing makeup and ridiculous clothes, but they still have the tendency to provide almost everyone with the creeps.

The Painted Smile

There is something unnatural about the fact that clowns are always smiling. We are realistically mindful that this red, painted smile is fake. Yet it makes it harder to tell when the individual using the makeup is revealing real emotion.

Johnny Depp stated that when he was a child, he had problems about clowns. He claims that painted-on smiles make it impossible to figure out if clowns enjoy or concealing the fact that they are about to bite your face off.

In Psychology Today, Dr Jordan Gaines Lewis wrote that a clown’s painted-on smile restricts the feelings that we can interpret from its face. Even in the very best scenario, we may feel uncomfortable or irritated by a clown. However, this pressure can contribute to the terror.

They Are Creepy And Hard To Sympathise With

When clowns have makeup on, they normally stay in the character at all times. It is easy for us to understand that acting is a job. However, it is extremely difficult to understand the inspirations behind the performance and career of a clown.

They’re Unpredictable And Untrustworthy

Clowns are insane and part of their comedy is that you’re never sure what they will do next. They might spray you with water from a flower on their t-shirt or throw a pie in your face. Part of a clown’s identity is doing over-the-top things that would not typically be considered regular habits.

According to an article in Scientific American, clowns are “tricksters”. We are never ever sure what they are going to do next because clowns are attempting to push the limits of what other individuals will tolerate.

Mass Hysteria

In 2016, the “killer clown” phenomenon started, with a growing number of video footage and reports of weird clowns doing weird and disturbing things in cities all over the world. Time called it “clown hysteria.”

While most of these clowns were merely loitering and attempting to play a prank, they were all suspected of criminal intent.

There were even 9 clown-related arrests in Alabama. Juveniles who impersonated weird clowns as a trick during school hours were implicated of making “terroristic risks” due to the fact that they were interrupting classes and terrifying trainees with coulrophobia.

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In sociology and psychology, this is an example of mass hysteria, a phenomenon where an illusion is shared by a group of individuals who identify something as a threat. No matter how illogical this fear may be, it causes extensive panic.

Fear Of The Unknown

Dr Penny Curtis from the University of Sheffield saw that the paediatric medical facility had multiple paintings of clowns on the walls. She decided to survey 250 children aged 4 to 16 who were staying in the health centre to discover out how they felt about these images of clowns. The results of her study showed that the clowns gave the huge bulk of these kids the creeps.

The conclusion from this research study is that the kids just discover them to be “frightening and unknowable.” Taking a look at a painting of a clown is not the same as taking a look at an image of a kitten. Children and grownups can see a picture of a kitten and they automatically have an understanding of exactly what a kitty is. The image of a clown reveals an abstract animal that is tough to categorise. They almost look like an alien, except we know in our heart that they are just clowns.

Popular Culture

Humans have two kinds of fear: innate fear and learned fear. An example of an innate fear would be the fear of heights. Fear is a typical part of our survival impulses.

An example of learned fear would be John Wayne Gacy, who was a serial killer who dressed up like a clown in his free time.

In the years following his criminal activities, clowns ended up being major characters in scary movies. Watching Stephen King’s Poltergeist or IT can make most individuals afraid of clowns.

Inferiority And Superiority Complexes

In a study by the Theodora Foundation, the researchers took a trip with clowns to paediatric health centres in Ontario, Canada. In their findings, the scientists pointed out that kids may feel better about themselves if they can laugh at someone else for being ridiculous or silly. This provides terminally ill kids with a desperately needed ego boost.

However, this kind of humour may not be the best for the average person. In Psychology Today, individuals who act superior toward others are actually really insecure and are seeking a peace of mind from others to feel excellent about themselves.

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In other words, the average person with a fair amount of happiness and self-confidence does not look to laugh at someone like a clown. Since lots of people do not want or need that sort of laughter in their lives, it feels unpleasant to be around a clown who is attempting to force it upon you.

Childhood Trauma

In a documentary by National Geographic, a lady who suffered a childhood trauma involving clowns openly screams and weeps in fear when she sees them. When the psychologist brings a clown to the office, the terrified female can hardly keep it together.

In an article from Psychology Today, one lady states the terrible experience of ending up being a volunteer on the Bozo the Clown TV show when she was a child in the 1960s. She was forced to rest on his lap and see up close that he was frowning regardless of his painted smile.

It is likely that lots of other people with a major case of coulrophobia had comparably terrible experiences at a circus or birthday celebration that resulted in their fear of clowns.

They Just Aren’t Funny Anymore

If we see a clown falling on a banana peel or striking their buddy over the head with a huge hammer, this would be an example of physical, or “slapstick,” comedy. Nevertheless, slapstick has not been popular for a long time due to the fact that society has excessive sympathy for the pain of other people.

Kids and adults might end up being uncomfortable when they are anticipated to laugh at an event which they simply do not find amusing.

Freud’s Uncanny Theory

In his 1919 publication “The Uncanny,” the world-famous psychologist, Sigmund Freud, discussed that we can be scared by something that can be familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

A real-life example is kids will be scared when they see an amputee since they can not understand why the person’s legs are gone.

Harvard professor, Steven C. Schlozman, elaborates on the theory in comparison to clowns. He describes that a clown has similar functions to a human who has a mouth, a nose, eyes and hair. However, a clown’s body parts are bigger such as giant shoes, abnormally large lips painted on a white face and a red nose. Therefore, this can cause fear and discomfort.