Doctor explains psychology behind fear of clowns - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Doctor explains psychology behind fear of clowns

Source: KXXV Source: KXXV

Social media threats coming from creepy clowns are instilling fear at some Central Texas schools.

None of those threats have been credible. However, several residents still have a fear of clowns.

According to Baylor Scott & White Health Clinical Psychologist Dr. Norm Fluet, the fear of clowns may come from movies within the past 15 or 20 years that have portrayed clowns as scary.

"I think, we as a mass of people we are really influenced by what movies do, how they portray things so I think the psychology is pretty basic, I think, in terms of what the culture is really communicating about it,” Fluet said.

Richard Van Gorder, who has been a clown for more than 19 years, said for the most part children are excited to see clowns at parties.

"They know someone is coming to make them awesome balloon animals or do a magic show. They're ready for fun when they see someone exciting and different, they’re excited,” Van Gorder said.

He said only a few people are usually fearful of clowns when he goes to parties.  

"The real little kids that may be a little scared of clowns and the teenagers,” Van Gorder said “On occasion there will be someone who has a phobia of clowns.”

Dr. Fluet said kids and adults who are anxious or have anxiety disorders are more prone to experience fear of clowns.

“They tend to view the environment as more anxious or more fearful than other people and those individuals will be more apt to have these fears generated by clowns,” Fluet said.

He mentions the fear of clowns can be experienced by children and adults. In addition, those who are afraid may not differentiate between creepy and nice clowns.

"I think it sort of bleeds over. I think it's hard for people to keep things in distinct categories. Plus there is a hysteria going on these days about clowns. So it makes the whole air of clowns, I think, something that's scary. Even if it's really a nice clown,” Fluet.

He recommends parents to talk to their children about the difference between both clowns and be cognizant of the type of movies children are exposed to.

Van Gorder, as a professional children’s entertainer, wants to remind the public, there is a difference between nice clowns and those wearing creepy clown outfits.

“Our goal and purpose in life is to bring joy, happiness and excitement to kids and make the birthday parties exciting. We have nothing to do or whatsoever with people trying to scare people or making threats or anything like that,” Van Gorder said.

However, the recent fear of clowns, has prompted some of his customers who had previously told him to wear a clown costume to request for him to dress up as something else, such as a pirate, cowboy or magician.

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