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Coulrophobia (fear of clowns): causes, symptoms and treatment

Coulrophobia (fear of clowns): causes, symptoms and treatment

May 10, 2021

The clowns they usually produce different feelings and emotions In us. We usually associate them with fun and endearing moments; to the pure entertainment of when we were children and enjoyed their occurrences.

However, for a small percentage of the population, the figure of the clown is associated with sensations negative and unpleasant , to the point that they feel genuine dread. It is what is known as'coulrophobia 'or fear of clowns.

The fear of clowns: the role of the subconscious in the coulrophobia

Clown phobia is often closely related to latent emotional causes in the person's subconscious, so there is no simple treatment to cure coulrophobia. However, there are different methods and techniques of treatment that help to help with a good rate of improvement to those who suffer from this fear.


Symptoms of coulrophobia

The visible part of clown phobia is panic, fear and the anguish of the phobic in the presence of the image of the clown. Although this fear is often perceived as something ridiculous or funny by third parties, the subject who experiences the phobia phobia can trigger severe anxiety attacks in the situations described.

Others associated symptoms to the fear of clowns are:

  • Feeling of intense fear
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Tachycardia and irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing

Causes of clown phobia

The causes responsible for this irrational phobia are several, and each case is unique. Most people affected by coulrophobia report having experienced a negative personal experience around the figure of a clown. However, most experts in clinical psychology and phobias maintain that the fundamental cause would be found in the imaginary created by the media (TV, movies, series) about clowns.


The figure of the clown has been used regularly in horror movies as a technique to cause fear to the spectator. Thus, the filmmaker creates a cognitive dissonance very effective, using a figure commonly associated with entertainment and fun as the opposite: a sadist or a psychopath, thus surprising the public.

There is also a great consensus among mental health professionals that one of the main causes of coulrophobia is due to the makeup features that clowns use. The bright colors, the exaggerated eyes and smiles, the red nose, are shocking stimuli for a child's mind, and can even cause fear, in the same way that some children are also afraid to sit in the lap of a child. Santa Claus.

The fear of clowns, consequently, may have one of its origins in the distrust generated by the histrionically made-up face, which does not allow to glimpse the authentic facial expression.


Treatment for coulrophobia

Many parents choose to try to prevent their children with fear of clowns from finding themselves in situations where there are clowns, such as birthday parties . This may seem a reasonable measure if the fear is very intense, but the truth is that clowns can appear in different contexts. The best treatment to overcome the coulrophobia is that a professional in psychotherapy can develop based on a good diagnosis, to adapt the remedy to the causes of irrational fear.

The most common techniques and methods of treatment for fighting clown phobia usually include psychological therapy , that through habituation, allows people with phobia to make progressive contact with the cause of fear (clowns, in this case), so that bad sensations gradually diminish.

In the course of psychotherapy based on desensitization , the anguish experienced should be diminishing. The first sessions tend to revolve around discussion and reflection on fear, and then start to see images related to the object of phobia: clowns. If the treatment is taking effect, the patient should be able to be comfortable and without suffering any of the symptoms of coulrophobia even in the presence of clowns in the same room. The process of desensitization makes it possible for people with clown phobia to become familiar little by little with their fear and, finally, become desensitized to the phobia, overcoming it.

Bibliographic references:

  • Durwin, J. (2010). Coulrophobia & The Trickster. Trinity

What Is The Name For The Fear Of Clowns (May 2021).


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