Fear Of Clowns (Coulrophobia): Origin, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The fear of clown coulrophobia is explained by the fear of the physical appearance of clowns. His white painted face, huge red lips, abnormally large feet, and a strange look of a character he does not know can scare the little ones due to their “different” and masked appearance.


It is sometimes necessary to go back in time to go to the origin of this reluctance towards clowns. If you stumbled across a movie with a nasty clown, the images might have caused a little shock to your head. Left buried in your unconscious. Ideas could well awaken in adulthood. As Professor Antoine Pelissolo, a psychiatrist specializing in anxiety disorders points out, “the mere fact of having seen a clown at least once in your life in a terrifying context can be enough to create a phobia.

You might also like to read: Fear Of Vomiting: Origin, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.


Clowns are supposed to make us laugh

Clowns are supposed to make us laugh, but often their painted faces make us anxious more than anything else. They have become protagonists of horror movies as well as children’s parties. Some psychologists specializing in anxiety disorders explain the reasons:

Her makeup

  • We usually look at people’s facial expressions to understand how they work, but we cannot use this technique with clowns as they are masked.
  • We never really know what they think, which puts us in an insecure situation!

His good mood

  • Clowns are always happy, and we tend not to trust people who are always happy, with big smiles on their faces.
  • They must be hiding something.

The context

  • If we see a clown in a circus, in his family environment, usually we will not be afraid, but we will put him in the middle of a forest, and immediately we think that we are in a horror movie!
  • The cliché also holds for the girl in a school uniform.


  • Like claustrophobia or agoraphobia, the mere sight of a clown puts your body on hyper-alert.
  • The fear is such that it leaves no room for reasoning; the heart races, and the muscles stiffen.
  • Some will even try to defend themselves through violence to protect themselves.


  • So what to do in case of a sudden (panic) attack? For clowns, as for everything else, running away is never the solution:
  • “Avoiding and running away from clowns all your life is not the solution, and it only aggravates the phobia,” the specialist emphasizes.
  • In the case of children, the most constructive method is to reassure them by desensitizing them little by little to get used to the “clown.”
  • Fear comes from ignorance, from lack of experience.
  • By accustoming our children to the clown’s presence, through photos or videos, for example, they will be able to face their fear gently and in small doses.
  • In adults, the first thing to do to overcome the phobia is to talk about it.
  • No longer denying it and taking responsibility for your anxiety is an obvious and essential step in the fight against phobia.
  • Some experts recommend regularly watching movies with “bad” clowns for 5-10 minutes.
  • The goal is to get used to it little by little and deprogram fear, the goal being, in the long run, to make the difference between “funny” clowns and scary clowns.
  • Some may also undergo cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, generally recommended for people who are seriously afraid of clowns.
  • Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is designed to confront your fears in the presence of a psychotherapist.
  • The proven method dramatically improves the lives of phobics by reducing the stress, spasms and anxiety attacks that were part of their daily lives.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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