Despite their main goal, which is to make people happy and create an atmosphere of joy and happiness, some people feel extreme fear that can reach the phobia of clowns, and they can’t bear to see them or to be in them. the same places with them.
It may seem trivial or illogical, but this fear can also control some adults, not just children. A 2016 study of 1,160 children found that 1.2% of them were afraid of clowns, and this percentage is increasing. in another study involving adults and conducted by Chapman University in 2016, it showed that 7.8% of Americans are afraid of clowns.
What is the hidden secret behind this horror of people dressed in pretty colorful clothes and trying to do acrobatic moves to make the crowd laugh?
Frank McAndrew, a psychology professor at Knox College, told TIME that the fear of clowns has historical roots: “Clowns have long been considered shady people,” he said.
He attributed the feelings of fear towards them to their history in medieval Europe and said: “Clowns were made to scare people, and if you go back to the beginning of the history of the clown, they were always evil and deceitful.”
Also in the Middle Ages, the faces of many clowns were mutilated to make them smile all the time, by cutting off some of the muscles that allow the face to frown.
The fear of clowns can also stem from the masks they wear and their effect on their behavior. Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss has indicated that the freedom that masks give to those who wear them can cause fear to others.
In his book, The Way of the Masks, he said, “It feels like a person whose face is covered can act outside the constraints of social norms and will face no consequences for their actions.”
A crisis of confidence
Another reason behind this fear is the hidden feelings and thoughts in the clown’s head that others cannot know.
Psychiatrist Rami Nader told Time magazine that the reason for the fear of clowns is that we don’t know what’s going on in the mind of the person wearing the colorful mask.
“The clowns are dressed in colorful costumes and faces with wide smiles, but those who look at them don’t really know how they feel, which causes an ingrained sense of distrust and what they present to people does not is not how they really feel,” he said. said.
The “Wrinkles” clown mentioned the same reason during a documentary about his unique story called “Wrinkles the Clown” in 2019, and said, “You know there’s a person under that mask, but you don’t. don’t know his identity, which makes people afraid.”
And “Rinkles” is an American in his 70s, and he decided to occupy his time after retirement by working as a creepy clown.
And Rinkles devoted his work to scaring naughty kids in exchange for getting money from their parents, or attending parties and doing pranks and tricks, and in 2015 he told the “Washington Post “that he received hundreds of phone calls a day asking for his services.
An alarming smile
Steven Schlossman, a psychiatrist at Harvard University, said one of the reasons clowns are scared is their never-changing smile, and he said, “We know smiling is a good thing, and yet we can’t always smile, and if you smile all the time, that means there’s something wrong.” Which can make clowns very scary.”
With their scary history, the recent trend of artworks has reinforced these negative feelings towards clowns, as many films and series have shown them threatening and deadly, which has further “tarnished” their reputation.
Psychology professor McAndrew said: “When people hear the word clown, the first thing that comes to mind is killer clowns in movies, and some remember serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and it’s hard to get over all of that.”
John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer and killer in the 1970s who became known as “Killer Clown” for his work as a volunteer clown, but behind that flashy exterior lurked a sadistic killer.
In addition to these reasons, there are those who really suffer from the fear of clowns, known as “culrophobia”.
“The sight of a clown attracts the attention of young children of two years or older, because it appears with a familiar body but its face is unfamiliar, and during this period children are more likely to develop phobias “said Ronald Doctor, professor of psychology. at California State University, told Business Insider Therefore, exposure to these strange faces can really scare them later.
However, not everyone who is afraid of clowns actually suffers from a phobia, as psychiatrist Nader explained: “For a person to be diagnosed with a phobia, the fear of clowns must be a reason for feeling pressured. extreme and prevent him from practicing his life.”
“Luckily, clowns don’t roam the streets, so it’s very easy to avoid them or at least not come into frequent contact with them, and this fear rarely disrupts the way of life of those who suffer from it.”