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How the Creepy Clown Epidemic Is Escalating a Real Phobia

author image Hillary Eaton
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.
How the Creepy Clown Epidemic Is Escalating a Real Phobia
Creepy clown sightings have been reported all over America. Photo Credit: kobzev3179/iStock/Getty Images

Every once in a while a fad builds up steam and takes the internet by storm. Remember “planking”? Or scaring kittens with cucumbers?

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Well, the latest trend will have you pining for the good ol’ days, because this one is far more sinister: creepy clowns.

Raise the alarm, folks. We’ve officially got a real-life clown epidemic on our hands. Clown sightings have been reported all over the U.S. — and we’re still a few weeks away from Halloween.

From a local television report of clowns in South Carolina “trying to lure children into the woods” to people up and down the East Coast reporting scary or suspicious encounters with people dressed like clowns, NPR explains that the frightful trend is breaking out across the nation.

A longtime popular trope in horror films, menacing clowns might be OK when they are confined to the screen. But when they’re out there walking around among us? No, thanks.

Evidence would suggest there’s little reason to be too worried about these clowns, but for those with coulrophobia, an extreme phobia of clowns, the fear can be very real. Those with coulrophobia have a completely next-level clown fear.

More than 12.9 million Americans suffer from fears and phobias, and a fear of clowns is just as legitimate as anything else, be it spiders or small spaces. Take a look at the 10 most common fears in America, which range from insects to heights, for proof that most of our fears are pretty unfounded.

Courophobia is hardly a new phenomenon — it has its roots in medieval times. “Clowns have always been associated with danger and fear because they push logic up to its breaking point,” according to professor and clown expert Andrew Stott, quoted on the subject in the U.K.’s Telegraph last year.

Here’s to hoping that the next trend that comes along doesn’t find a way to capitalize on any other common fears out there.

What Do YOU Think?

Are you scared of clowns? Have you spotted a creepy clown? How do you deal with fear? Let us know in the comments.

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