Horrorpedia: Coulrophobia

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My significant other is indeed driving up to visit me today, but I thought I could get away with a quick post before I have to start getting things ready (i.e. – clean the house because sometimes I’m  not as neat as I should be… I’m a writer, not a saint). One of the many things that attracted me to her was her vast intellect. When we met she was a psych student at a nearby college and managed to nab a part time job with me at a local copy center. Our story turned out to be a strange series of coincidences, like a cross between The Twilight Zone and The Notebook and one day I might share it with you all. However, with Valentine’s day coming up, I thought it would be a great time to do a post in honor of her. In fact, I am kicking off a whole new category in her honor.

The Horrorpedia entries will be a delight for the intellectuals among you and, I’d like to think, a resource for the writers among you. This category brings you a bit of information on a variety of topics that are strange, weird, and just plain horrible. They are for the geeky horror fans, such as myself, who enjoy a little learning in their horror. So, I give you the first entry into Rune Morgan Horror’s Horrorpedia.

C is for Coulrophobia

Coulrophobia is the irrational fear of clowns. This term for it dates back to the 1980s and one must wonder if Stephen King’s Pennywise is the cause of this fear needing an actual name. While -phobia comes from the Latin word phobos, meaning fear, the coulro is believed to come from the Greek word kolobathristes (try saying that three times fast), meaning stilt-walker. In a bit of hilarity (ironically for a article on the fear of clowns), the Online Etymology Dictionary states that the term “looks suspiciously like the sort of thing idle pseudo-intellectuals invent on the Internet and which every smarty-pants takes up thereafter.”

A researcher for the University of Sheffield, Dr. Penny (not Pennywise) Curtis, found in a study to prepare for a redesign of a hospital’s decor that clowns are universally disliked by children. It is believed by researchers that the exaggerated features of clowns have something to do with this phobia. A psych professor at California State University Northridge says children are “very reactive to a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face.” Clowns may cause what is knows as the uncanny valley effect; a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which states when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it can cause revulsion among human observers.

Are you afraid of clowns? Do you know someone who’s afraid of clowns? Do you have a scary clown story or piece of art? Share it in the comments below.

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