Coulrophobia, the terrible fear of clowns: what it is, causes and symptoms

When you see a clown instead of laughing, do you burst into tears? You may be suffering from coulrophobia, which is the phobia of clowns. Little studied but known for decades, widespread in both children and adults

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Do you get chills every time you see a clown? You may suffer from coulrofobia, the terrible and uncontrollable fear of clowns.

In fact, clowns, although born to entertain the public, often arouse fear, but those who suffer from coulrophobia, seeing them feel real terror.

A fear that, although not well studied, has been known for several decades, and is partly related to the growing presence of clowns in horror films. Just think of the terrible IT.


Coulrophobia: what it is

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Coulrophobia is the phobia of clowns, an irrational and uncontrollable fear that affects both children and adults, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the case.

It is not a pathology recognized by international manuals and there are not many studies on it, apart from a research conducted on 1160 children hospitalized in the pediatric wards of the Carmel Medical Center, started to collect data on the extent of this phenomenon in the pediatric wards.

Of the children examined, 14 were shown to be afraid of clowns, that is 1,2%, with an average age of 3-5 years, mostly female. Interesting data which, however, are not enough to understand the phenomenon on a large scale. Which in any case exists.

Coulrofobia: cause

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Apparently those suffering from coulrophobia perceive in an extremely threatening way the characteristic and unnatural traits of clowns, such as their facial expressions, very bright make-up, forced smile, artificial emotions that hide their true identity. All things that disorient the brain causing estrangement.

Healthline specifies that even watching horror movies with negatively painted clowns can greatly impress children, triggering a lasting phobia. Not to mention any traumatic experiences involving clowns and the case in which the phobia was transmitted by a family member with the same disorder.

Symptoms of coulrophobia

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The symptoms of coulrophobia can be different and more or less severe depending on the case. Symptoms listed by Healthline include:

  • panic attacks
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • excessive sweating
  • feelings of dread
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid heartbeat
  • crying, tremors, anger

If the phobia strongly affects the quality of one's life and has persisted for several months, it is best to talk about it with a professional who can advise, if necessary, adequate therapy.

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Other unusual phobias:

  • Ablutofobia
  • Tripophobia

  • Pediophobia

  • Somniphobia

  • Xanthophobia

  • Kenophobia

  • Koumpounophobia

  • Nomophobia

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