The image of a clown can bring up a lot of different emotions within people. While usually associated with fun, playful or entertaining thoughts, clowns can also be associated with negative imagery and their presence can be downright terrifying for some. Because this fear is usually tied to emotional causes, there is no simple “cure” of coulrophobia. There are, however, several different treatment methods available for those who are looking to overcome their fears.
Symptoms of Coulrophobia
While coulrophobia may seem humorous from an outside perspective, a person suffering from the fear of clowns may experience severe panic attacks in these types of situations. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling of terror or dread
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Causes of Coulrophobia
Those with coulrophobia may also take extreme methods in their personal lives to avoid clowns or, if faced with a stressful situation, may find the quickest escape and leave the situation unannounced immediately. So what is to blame for this irrational fear? Many feel that it is a combination of traumatic experiences and imagery that can cause this irrational fear. A fear of clowns, while oftentimes initiated by a negative personal experience, can be based within negative media imagery. Clowns are a relatively common theme throughout horror films and are commonly employed as a scare tactic by popular media. The idea is similar to that of the Trojan Horse, where something commonly nonthreatening is used to instill fear or dread, thus surprising an audience and altering their mental association with the character. While most children see clowns as fun-loving jokesters and an opportunity for entertainment, an adult who has just seen the Stephen King movie “IT” may have a completely opposite perspective.
Treatment of Coulrophobia
Treatment methods usually used in overcoming coulrophobia commonly employ exposure therapy. This allows patients to slowly become more familiar with clowns on a gradually increasing basis. Patients will begin with a discussion of their fears and probable roots, then move onto seeing pictures or videos associated with clowns. The eventual goal is to be able to be comfortable in the same room as a clown. This process allows patients to become more familiar with their fears and eventually desensitized to them.
Coulrophobia can cause panic and fear in situations that may seem common to many others. While avoiding a children’s birthday party may seem like an obvious treatment, clowns can be found in a variety of other social places. If you want to rid yourself entirely of your irrational fear, visiting with a professional or exploring self-help options is likely your best path towards recovery. Be sure to do some Internet research to become more familiar with the phobia and find out which treatment method you would be most comfortable with.