Coulrophobia Scares Clowns
Written By: VeeKay The Clown

Coulrophobia is a real phobia. It is the fear of clowns. But are those who claim to be afraid of clowns, or hate clowns, real?

On January 1, 2006, Alex Waterfield (Columbia News Service) wrote an article in The Orange County Register (The OC, California, USA) - Health & Family - segment of the paper titled, "Clowns are no fun for many people."

The article gave a lot of credit to the "ihateclowns.com" website, and it seemed geared to the view of those who hate clowns. Including a group of clown haters from Sarasota, Florida, the circus capital of the world, who are trying to prevent the city from displaying life size statue of clowns, as well as images of clowns.

IS IT REAL OR FAKE?

Being a clown I run across those who are truly afraid of clowns, and those who pretend to be afraid of clowns.

COULROPHOBIA SCARES CLOWNS

Those who are victims of coulrophobia would do their best to get away from the situation, quietly, and without calling attention to themselves. For some, the fear is so great that they would go into convulsion or even faint at the site of a clown.

When I spot a person walking away, head down, in a fast pace, or see that "look" in their eyes, I quickly walk away.

THE FAKERS ARE FAKING IT

Those who are fakers, especially, teenage girls, will yell, scream, shout, and loudly declare how much they hate clowns. All this they will do to call attention to themselves, and get sympathy from their boyfriends, and/or their group of friends.

Often, when they are alone, away from their friends, these same girls would smile, even kid around with the clown. Unfortunately, these fakers end up scaring younger kids around them. What they see as a joke, it turns harmful to others.

THE PROBLEM - PARENTS & FRIENDS

Parents / grown-ups are guilty of scaring young ones. Some will force their terrified child to approach a clown, to their own amusement. Others, thinking they are doing the right thing, bring the crying child closer to the clown, hoping that long exposure will take away the fear. The child feels hopeless, as the parent hold him or her in front of them. This action increases the fear and will have a lasting effect on the child.

Then, there are those who threaten a child by saying that if they do not behave, the clown will come and get them.Sometimes, so called friends would ask a clown to scare their friend, child or even spouse. Don't you just love friends like these?

And of course, we have the problem of amateur clowns, often calling themselves professional, who do not know when to back away from a terrified child or adult. Often, they try to impress the parent by trying to win over the child. The result, a parent may have to tell the clown to "GO AWAY!"

Some of these amateur clowns will relentlessy pursue a fearful grown up, to the laughter of onlookers. The truth is, a professional clown, especially circus clowns, will not play an embarrassing trick on its audience, or put an individual in a spot where he or she would be humiliated. Good clowns will play these kind of tricks on themselves to the delight of the audience.

HOW TO DEAL

I have encountered all these types and more. When a child is afraid, I quickly cover my face; make myself as small as possible and walk away. If the parent insists on bringing the child toward me, and I can't get away, I get down on my knees, or make myself as small as possible, do not make eye contact, but soothingly tell the child that "I am just as scared." And that "I will stay right here, I won't move," and I keep my head low, looking down.

One of my favorite lines is to tell the child is, "When I was a little clown, I was afraid of children too, but now, thanks to you being nice I can see that children are nice and won't hurt me." If the child calms down, often they do, I tell them the story of "my life" and what it was like to grow up as a clown. I tell them, "As a baby, my parents knew I was a clown because I spoke funny. When I begun to talk, I talked funny. I always like food that tasted funny. But I bathed everyday, because I did not want to smell funny. And I knew that I did not have to fear dinosaurs or pirates, because everyone knows that dinosaurs do not eat clowns, because clowns taste funny." (When I met the person whom became my wife, I knew it was true love because she looked at me funny.)

Even though I get a smile or giggle from the child, who is still not too sure about the clown, I don't approach the child. I just wave and back away slowly, allowing the child to choose to shake hands with the clowns at he's or hers own time. Often, after watching the clown interact with other kids, this same child will join in the fun, and even hug or shake hands with the clown.

By giving the person, or child, their space and time, they will eventually come around. Or at least be less scared of the clown.

CONCLUSION

Yes, the fear of clowns is real. So, here are some suggestions to clowns.

If the person is truly afraid, the clown should turn away from the individual.

If the child is terrified, don't try to win them over. Walk away, and in a smooth soothing voice let them know that they are safe, that you know that they are afraid and that you are going away. Wave good-bye. If the child waves back, smile and continue to walk away. Do not make eye contact, if possible, until you're far away.

If you can't get away, cover your face, and make yourself small. Even get down on your knees, to make the child face safe and in control. Your actions will assure that the next this child you meets you or another clown, he or she will feel a bit more comfortable. And you will have given "clowns" a good name.

VeeKay - the Original Zoot Suit Clown

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