Just in time for Halloween Stephen King’s film IT (#IT) is set to open on September 8th. We can be sure that Throughout the U.S. there be a resurgence of Scary Clowns invading communities and terrorizing people. In the past, these reports included attempts by some to lure children into the woods. The Scary clowns have people afraid, police and sheriff’s departments scrambling, and reports of physical attacks on innocent pedestrians.
Every year, about this time, I receive a few phone calls from people with a special fear. The technical term is Coulrophobia – The Fear of Clowns! This fear seems to haunt more people in Gen-Y and Gen-X than prior groups and there appears to be some strong indicators as to why this is.
The boomer generation grew up with clowns such as Bozo and Clarabel during the 1950’s and 60’s. These clowns were associated with fun, laughter and cartoons, the pacifier of the generation. That, however changed dramatically in the early 70’s with the infamous – Killer Clown – John Wayne Gacy (Pogo the Clown).
Originally, clowns were more an adult entertainment going back to the “court-jesters” or “fools”. Beginning in the late 18th and 19th centuries, the appearance of clowns began to shift and the first appearances of the painted white face and exaggerated expression (makeup) entered the scene. These exaggerated expressions, which hide true, and recognizable facial features are in large part the reason for the fear.
Olivia Goldhill, former features writer for The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/halloween/11194653/Why-are-we-so-scared-of-clowns.html) sums up the reaction of many in regards to clowns:
“The more you stare at a clown’s perpetually smiling face, the more it warps into something more sinister.
But the manic joy, the mask of make-up and the excessive familiarity are just a hair’s breadth away from terror.”
It is the grotesque, unnatural appearance of the human face and body which triggers the fight/flight/freeze mechanism deep within our brains. We get a sense of unease which is often amplified by the clown character acting in ways that would otherwise be socially unacceptable. It is this very sense of discomfort and unease that authors such as Stephen King and director Stephen Spielberg tap into in the film IT with the character PennyWise, or the character Twisty the clown in American Horror Freak Show, or the Joker in Batman. In each of these, the clown embodies evil. The fear that often develops in young children who are sensitive to this odd, unfamiliar face (exaggerated features and hair) in a familiar body. Historically, the actual people who have played clowns are themselves, sad, tragic, and often times sadistic people.
Children are taught, from the earliest ages, to avoid strangers. It’s common for children to think that “bad strangers” look scary, like the villains in cartoons. This is a natural growth that results from both the experience of seeing scary scenes, and creating them within their own minds. This taught response, along with the stories reported in the news and social media have heightened the concerns and level of angst parents and communities are having. Schools are reinforcing the warnings, especially among younger children.
While a small percentage of the U.S. population would actually be classified as coulrophoic (having the fear of clowns), they nonetheless do exist. It is particularly difficult for these people during the Halloween season, when there is a greater number of people dressing up as clowns, and is further amplified by constant and increasing number of reports.
Fears or phobias are generally the result of unresolved processing of a traumatic experience. Through hypnosis, the person suffering from the fear often plays a self-reinforcing, though unhealthy, mental loop that confirms the feeling. I have helped a significant number of clients remove a host of fears and phobias that have previously paralyzed them. Hypnosis is a powerful and useful tool in helping people overcome fears and phobias by helping them address and resolve the originating event that is the basis of their behavior. Clients are then able to enjoy life.
Whether you fear clowns, heights, bridges, snakes or spiders, isn’t it time you made a positive change in your life with hypnosis? STOP being controlled by your fear! START living life free of anxiety. I can help you with hypnosis. SEE how! Contact me at – firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my websited – www.hypnomarc.com to request more information and to schedule your appointment – RIGHT NOW!
Marc Marshall, CH CHMI, is a certified consulting and stage hypnotist, author and motivational speaker with offices in Summit, NJ and Shaftsbury, VT. He has helped people make dramatic improvements in their lives through his pain management, smoking cessation, weight loss, reducing stress and anxiety, and resolving fears and phobias programs. Learn more today.