A clown walks into a bar. Everybody else gets up and leaves. Not a joke. More of an observation. A lot of people are afraid of clowns.
So there’s this clown, in an empty bar. He turns to the barkeep and says..
The irrational fear of clowns is often discussed in terms of a specific phobia – coulrophopia. The term is informal and doesn’t appear in any diagnostic manuals. Nevertheless there are three commonly accepted theories as to its cause.
The first is that some event in childhood left psychological scars, and that something about the image of the clown is triggering. As may happen with trauma the memory may be deeply repressed, inaccessible to the conscious mind whilst entirely colouring its perceptions. So the coulrophobe can hate clowns but never know why, and it is probably best they never find out.
The second theory is that the fear of clowns results from media programming. The clown has become a cliché of the modern horror genre. Like the movie It, which was clearly inspired by John Wayne Gacy aka Pogo, or Killer Clowns From Outer Space, or the Halloween craze of ‘killer clowns’ pranking people in the streets, inevitably leading to genuine murders. Giving us all a bad name.
The third theory is we really are evil. People have good reason to fear us. There is absolutely nothing irrational about it. Pure evil, creeping up on you unexpected. Jumping out at you with buckets of water. Slapping you in the face with a pie. We are everything you deny in yourselves, the meaningless absurdity of the human condition writ large. The embodiment of Khaos, the Abyss into which few dare look for too long..
None of these theories tell the whole story. I’m speaking from personal experience here. I know all about psychological scars, media misrepresentation and the dark hearts of clowns. Pour me another and I’ll tell you about my childhood.
It is still happy hour, right?