Coulrophobia: Symptoms and ways to improve

Clown is a masquerade character built with the purpose of bringing joy and laughter. However, many people fear and obsess excessively about clowns. This condition is known as the fear of clowns, also known by the term “Coulrophobia”.

clown fear syndrome

The clown is a character built for entertainment purposes but “accidentally” causes obsession with some people

What is fear of clowns?

Clown is a character created to entertain and bring laughter to people. This character is said to have appeared since ancient Egypt. The person playing the clown will make up his face to look funny and always smile to entertain the nobility. It was not until the 16th century that the clown was mentioned in the English vocabulary, and by the 19th century, the character became popular in circuses, movies, festivals, etc.

Although the character brings laughter, some people are extremely scared and panic when they see the clown. Many people think that the clown’s face looks weird and haunting instead of funny as the general way most people think.

Coulrophobia refers to an excessive, intense, and persistent fear of clowns. The fear will last for at least 6 months and cause obstacles in life.

The term Coulrophobia began to be mentioned in the 1990s and is of Greek origin. Although not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) or the WHO International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) but the term Coulrophobia is still commonly used.

In fact, a lot of people have feelings of fear and panic when they see clowns. The reason is because they feel unsafe when their real face is hidden under makeup. In addition, the way the makeup is colorful, ostentatious and exaggerated also unintentionally causes an unfriendly look for some people.

Signs of fear of clowns

Clown phobia is characterized by a strong, phobia, and insecurity fear of seeing a clown. Some people even become scared at the thought of a clown’s face. Coulrophobia can affect anyone but affects more children.

clown fear syndrome

Clownphobia is characterized by an excessive obsession and fear of clowns

Signs of fear of clowns:

  • There is a constant feeling of fear, anxiety, and insecurity about encountering a clown
  • Dodge to places where clowns appear such as circus, fairs, carnivals, Halloween, birthday parties, etc.
  • Some people don’t even dare to look at the pictures and watch video clips of clowns
  • If unfortunately encountering a clown, the patient will become panic and extreme fear. The excessive fear response triggers physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, breathing rate, shortness of breath, pale skin, profuse sweating, nausea, tremors, etc.
  • When seeing a clown, young children often react by crying, screaming and trying to hide behind their parents

Compared to other phobias, Coulrophobia has less impact on life because clowns only appear in certain circumstances and situations. Meanwhile, syndromes such as fear of the dark, fear of chickens, fear of driving, etc. will cause more trouble.

Causes of fear of clowns

Some small-scale surveys show that about 7.8% of the US population has a fear and phobia about clowns. This number is not small, so although it has not been recognized, the term “Coulrophobia” is still used very commonly.

clown fear syndrome

Horror movies inspired by clowns are a factor in increasing the incidence of Coulrophobia

Similar to other phobias, Coulrophobia is thought to be related to negative past experiences. Here are some factors that can trigger an intense fear of clowns:

  • Due to skepticism: Some people react with suspicion when meeting a clown. Because they do not know who is behind the makeup and costumes that look colorful and colorful. Doubt makes many people feel fear and insecurity when seeing clowns.
  • Excessively exaggerated makeup: The clown’s face is often dressed in white with a big round nose, wide mouth and big eyes. This make-up brings humor and laughter to everyone. However, in the eyes of many people, this face is somewhat bizarre and
  • exaggerated. They felt both familiar and strange and sensed a hidden danger behind that smiling face. This mentality prompts the brain to create a fear response so that the body senses danger.
  • Effect of Horror Movies: Excessive fear of clowns can be attributed to horror movies. Many movies are inspired by clowns because this is a character who never shows his face. Horror content and images can instill fear of clowns in the mind.
  • Negative experiences: Like other phobias, clowns are related to negative past experiences, such as being intimidated by a clown or being kidnapped by a clown. a person dressed as a clown… The amygdala in the brain will remember the feeling of fear when experiencing these events. Since then, unconsciously creating a feeling of panic, fear and insecurity when seeing the clown.
  • Family influences: When living with someone with claustrophobia, children can learn from their loved ones’ reactions. Over time, this reaction deepens in the mind leading to feelings of fear, panic, and crying at the sight of the clown. Strong fear also prompts avoidant behaviors such as refusing to go to the circus, work, or refuse to attend festivals.
  • Tragedies related to clowns: In the past, clowns were very popular for their silly expressions and smiling faces. However, the tragedies related to clowns such as people acting as clowns have creepy laughter expressions unconsciously while sleeping, many people dress up as clowns to easily harm/kidnap others, etc. Most people are afraid of this harmless character. Up to now, the clown is still a symbol of humor and fun, but there are many people who are obsessed and overly afraid of this character.

Coulrophobia can occur at any age but is more common in children under 3 years of age. In addition, women will have a higher risk of developing this syndrome than men due to their sensitive and weak personalities.

Is the fear of clowns dangerous?

Compared with other phobias, clownphobia has little effect on quality of life. Because clowns only appear in some situations such as circuses, festivals, Halloween parties, etc. Therefore, people with this disease can avoid to feel fear and panic.

What is coulrophobia?

The fear of clowns can affect the experience of life

However, clowns can appear suddenly in shopping malls, parks, etc., causing patients to panic, panic, and lose control. When faced with fear, the person cannot control his or her emotions or behavior. This causes feelings of inferiority and lack of confidence. With young children, they may be isolated and ostracized due to an unreasonable fear of meeting a clown.

Overall, the effects of clownphobia are not as profound as that of other phobias. However, Coulrophobia can increase the risk of panic disorder and cause prolonged states of stress and anxiety. In cases where the fear of clowns has a significant impact on quality of life, treatment should be considered to prevent long-term consequences.

How is Clown Fear Syndrome Diagnosed?

As mentioned, Coulrophobia is not recognized in ICD-10 and DSM-5. Therefore, there will be no precise diagnostic criteria for this syndrome. However, doctors can rely on experience to diagnose and advise appropriate solutions.

Coulrophobia is usually diagnosed if the patient has constant feelings of fear, insecurity, and even panic when thinking about or seeing a clown’s face. In addition, the patient must have avoidance behaviors to the park, the circus or anywhere where the clown appears.

Similar to other phobias, Coulrophobia is diagnosed when symptoms persist for at least 6 months and must have significant effects on quality of life.

Methods to improve the fear of clowns

Clownphobia does not necessarily require treatment. As mentioned, clowns only appear in certain situations, so they can be completely dodged. However, treatment will be considered if the syndrome is affecting life experiences such as avoiding movie theaters, supermarkets, parks, and circuses, and causing panic attacks in public places. .

Similar to other phobias, clownphobia is treated with medication and psychotherapy.

1. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a method commonly applied in the treatment of psychological problems in general and the fear of clowns in particular. This method is carried out in the form of conversation with the aim of eliminating unreasonable fear of clowns, reducing anxiety, insecurity and avoidance behaviors.


Psychotherapy is an effective method in reducing irrational fear of clowns

People with claustrophobia will be considered for the following 2 therapies:

Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy is also known as exposure therapy and systemic desensitization therapy. This method helps patients overcome their fear of clowns and other specific objects/situations. The specialist will expose the patient to the clown through visuals, then increase by video exposure and finally face-to-face contact. During therapy, the therapist helps the patient learn to cope with and control the fear. This will help the brain adapt and stop reacting to fear when exposed to the clown.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is administered in tandem with exposure therapy for the best results. This method helps to change somewhat negative and distorted thinking (thoughts), thereby helping the patient adjust emotions and behavior in a positive direction. CBT is currently the most commonly applied psychotherapy thanks to its high applicability and optimal effectiveness.

2. Drug use

Similar to other phobias, medications are rarely used in the treatment of clownphobia. In cases where the patient exhibits excessive anxiety and stress, depression, several medications can be used.

Drugs considered for the treatment of clownphobia:

  • Beta-blockers: Most people with claustrophobia become panic, agitated when exposed to clowns. This reaction leads to a variety of physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, and more. In this case, your doctor may prescribe beta-blockers to relieve the physical symptoms. and calm the patient.
  • Sedatives: Sedatives are considered for use in patients with stress, anxiety, and insomnia. The characteristics of this group of drugs are high efficiency and quick action, but there is a risk of addiction. For this reason, sedation is only used for short periods of time when needed.

3. Relaxation therapy

Clown syndrome causes persistent insecurity and anxiety. People with the syndrome always feel unsafe when going out for fear that the clown will appear suddenly and themselves will fall into a state of panic in public.

Relaxation therapies will help patients manage stress and anxiety caused by claustrophobia. Besides, these therapies also help a lot in dealing with fear and negative emotions.


Relaxation therapies can be used to reduce stress, anxiety and insecurities caused by claustrophobia

Relaxation therapies for patients with claustrophobia:

  • Meditation: Meditation has been shown to have benefits for mental health. People with psychological problems should meditate every day to release negative emotions and rebalance energy in the body. Daily meditation also helps reduce physical symptoms caused by fear of clowns such as nervousness, heart palpitations, headaches, etc.
  • Practice yoga: Psychologists encourage people with Coulrophobia to practice yoga regularly. This subject helps to relax muscles, relieve stress, regulate blood pressure and breathing rate. Regular yoga practice will help improve mental health and reduce physical symptoms associated with psychological problems.
  • Other measures: People with claustrophobia can also apply some other relaxation measures such as using herbal teas, journaling, massage, aromatherapy, playing with pets, listening to frequency music. high number…

In addition to the above measures, consider joining groups of people who are afraid of clowns for support. The practical experience of other patients will be of great help in the treatment and management of the disease.

Despite being mentioned a lot, the fear of clowns (Coulrophobia) has not been studied in depth. However, current solutions can somewhat control the fear and obsession about clowns. If you suspect that you have this disease, you should see a psychologist for support.

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