The recent wave of creepy clown sightings in six states, and most recently in Georgia, has people on edge.
The police seem to be baffled as to who is behind the face paint. If they truly present a danger to the public, or if they are simply clowning around, for lack of a better phrase, remains undetermined.
What’s happening exactly? People dressed as clowns are being seen in wooded areas at night in various spots in the U.S, and some school kids claim they saw one while waiting for the morning school bus, and promptly “ran for their lives”.
Police are threatening the pranksters with the fact that they will face charges if and when they are caught: it’s not cool to intimidate the public.
But as disturbing as the whole thing is, it does bring to light the strange and interesting phenomenon of coulrophobia: a fear of clowns.
Why are certain people prone to find those dressed up in playful costumes, scary? Especially those who are meant to entertain and spread cheer?
Apparently, it can begin in childhood. Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, a psychologist who runs a phobia and anxiety treatment center in San Diego, stated to smithsonianmag.com that the fear can start very young.
“It (a fear of clowns) starts normally in children about the age of two, when they get anxiety about being around strangers, too. At that age, children’s minds are still developing, there’s a little bit of a blend and they’re not always able to separate fantasy from reality,” she commented.
Wiederhold went on to explain that most kids grow out of the fear, but that about 2% of the adult population still suffers from the phobia. This is usually because these individuals find it problematic reading a clown’s true emotions, under all that face paint.
Incidences like these recent unsettling sightings don’t help the matter any, obviously.
Hopefully these pranksters will be caught, if indeed they do truly exist.