Coulrophobia: all about the phobia of clowns

Clár ábhair

Coulrophobia: all about the phobia of clowns

With his big red nose, his multicolored make-up and his extravagant outfit, the clown marks the spirits during childhood, by his comic side. However, it can also be a scary image for some people. Coulrophobia, or phobia of clowns, is now widely reported in novels and films.

What is coulrophobia?

The word “coulrophobia” comes from ancient Greek, coulro rud a chiallaíonn acrobat on stilts ; and phobia, fear. Coulrophobia thus designates the unexplained fear of clowns. Classified as a specific phobia, this fear of clowns comes from a single source of anxiety related to the clown, and cannot come from another phobia.

Like any phobia, the subject may feel, in the presence of the object of fear:


  • nausea;
  • digestive disorders ;
  • ráta croí méadaithe;
  • sweating iomarcach;
  • possibly anxiety attack;
  • panic attack ;
  • stratagem undertaken to avoid the presence of the clowns.

Where does the fear of clowns come from?

There are several reasons that can explain the phobia of clowns:

  • The impossibility of decoding the face of a person, perceived then as threatening: this is the most “rational” reason, because in connection with the fear of the appearance, archaic in the man, and considered as a reflex survival. It signifies an inability to analyze others because their features are hidden by makeup or a mask, which is seen as a potential danger;
  • A traumatic fear experienced in childhood or adolescence: an event experienced in the past can mark so much that one develops a phobia, often unconsciously. A disguised relative who scared us at a birthday party, a masked person at a party, for example, can cause coulrophobia;
  • Finally, the impact that popular culture transmits through films on scary clowns and other masked characters (Joker in Batman, the murderous clown in Stephen King’s saga, “that” …) is not insignificant in the development of this phobia. This may concern more adults, and without directly developing a phobia, maintain an already present fear.
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How to overcome coulrophobia?

As is often the case with phobias, it is advisable to seek the origin of the fear. One of the following techniques can be used for this:

Teiripe iompraíochta cognaíche (CBT)

There is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to overcome it. With a therapist, we will try here to confront the object of our fear, by performing practical exercises based on the behavior and reactions of the patient. We thus become familiar with the object of fear (the clown, the image of a circus, a masked birthday party, etc.), by desensitizing the fear.

Clárú néar-theangeolaíoch

NLP allows for different approaches to treatment. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) will focus on how humans function in a given environment, based on their behavioral patterns. By using certain methods and tools, NLP will help the individual to change their perception of the world around them. This will thus modify his initial behaviors and conditioning, by operating in the structure of his vision of the world. In the case of a phobia, this method is particularly suitable.



Maidir le EMDR, rud a chiallaíonn dí-íograithe agus athphróiseáil ag gluaiseachtaí súl, úsáideann sé spreagadh céadfach a chleachtann gluaiseachtaí súl, ach freisin le spreagthaí cloisteála nó tadhlacha.


De bharr an mhodha seo is féidir meicníocht chasta neuropsychological atá i láthair gach duine againn a spreagadh. D’fhágfadh an spreagadh seo go mbeifí in ann athphróiseáil a dhéanamh ar chuimhneacháin a mbíonn an inchinn trámach iontu agus nár nocht siad, rud a d’fhéadfadh a bheith ina gcúis le hairíonna an-mhíchumais, mar shampla phobias. 



Hypnosis is finally an effective tool for finding the origins of the phobia and thus seeking solutions. We dissociate the patient from the phobia, in order to find more flexibility in daily life. We can also try Ericksonian hypnosis: brief therapy, it can treat anxiety disorders that escape psychotherapy.

Cure it in children … and adults


We can start early to desensitize a fear, especially in children, who have perceived a feeling of insecurity in the presence of clowns or masked people.

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Fear is, for them especially, a lack of experience vis-à-vis the situation encountered: it is then a question of gently facing situations experienced as stressful, without rushing or fleeing, by gradually desensitizing the traumatic experience. .

In some cases, the fear of clowns may subside without special treatment after childhood. For others, who will keep this phobia in adulthood, will be able to choose a behavioral method in order to remedy it, and why not, to watch films about scary clowns, in order to differentiate between “bad” fictitious characters. , and clowns encountered in the past or in everyday life, of the order of the comic and amusing character.


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