Creepy Clowns Psychology: Why People Get Scared Of Them

First Posted: Oct 04, 2016 04:42 AM EDT

Creepy clowns have been making headlines during the past months. Reports say there have been sightings of clowns scaring people in 10 states in America. Amidst these happenings, psychologist Frank T. McAndrew tries to explain the origin and reason why clowns scare so many people. Ronald McDonald is not an exemption, for many people hate him as well.

In his article published in IFL Science, McAndrew recalled that the clowns have gone as far as chasing people with machetes and knives, luring children and women into the woods, and yelling at people from cars. Likewise, they hang out in cemeteries and appear in country roads in the middle of the night.

McAndrew likewise said that this is not the first time there has been numerous clown sightings in the United States. In the 1980s, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman came up with "The Phantom Clown Theory", which discusses about the numerous cases of clown sighting leading to mass hysteria. It is important to take note that only children witnessed the incidents that sparked such cases. McAndrew said it is impossible to tell which incidents are hoaxes and which are bona fide tales of clowning around.

Additionally, a study conducted in England in 2008 revealed that only a small number of children like clowns. In fact, experts concluded that despite being a common practice, decorating children's wards in hospitals with pictures of clowns may lead to the opposite of a nurturing environment. This can also explain why many people actually don't like Ronald McDonald.

In connection to this, BBC reported about an 11-year-old girl in Athens, Georgia being arrested for bringing a knife in school. She did it because she was afraid of social media reports about clowns attacking children. In recent weeks, there have reports of clown attack in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. 

Meanwhile, McAndrew pointed out that for thousands of years, clown-like characters have been around. According to history, clowns and jesters have been used for satire and making fun of powerful people. Moreover, the word "clown" first appeared in 1500s. Shakespeare used the term in describing foolish characters in some of his plays. It was only over the last 150 years that the familiar circus clown arose.

Lastly, the thought about creepy clowns and their psychopathic behaviors consumed the collective unconscious of Americans due to the capture of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. He regularly painted pictures of clowns and appeared as Pogo the Clown at children's birthday parties. The authorities discovered that Gacy had killed approximately 33 people.

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