Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Mommy, make the clown go away

Don't laugh. Coulrophobes are out there, and they no like the clowns.
Although there are no official statistics, some experts believe that as many as one in seven people experience some level of coulrophobia, as fear of clowns is clinically known. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and overall feelings of dread. In October, a plan to erect dozens of clown statues in Sarasota, Fla., a fabled circus town, was almost scrapped after an outcry from coulrophobes and clown-haters.

Coulrophobia is most commonly triggered by a traumatic experience in childhood, said Steven Luel, a psychologist in New York specializing in anxiety and phobias. Indeed, that was the case with [Beth] Wallace. At the age of 6, she met her first clown at the circus, an encounter she still remembers clearly 25 years later.

“A clown got right up in my face, and I could see his beard stubble under his makeup. He smelled bad and his eyes were weird,” she said. “I guess I never got over it.”
Bozo will get you after you go to sleep tonight if you so much as snicker at this. Seriously. You've been warned.

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