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Coulrophobia is the Newest Epidemic Sweeping the Nation

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MNSU chapter.


Coulrophobia, [kool-ruh-foh-bee-uh], noun, an abnormal fear of clowns. 

Lately you may have heard about the creepy clowns roaming around cities in the U.S. and haunting all of the unlucky bystanders. I myself am terrified of clowns, so this to me is literally a living nightmare. On Sunday, October 3, the first public sighting in Mankato was announced… I thought I was going to be safe in this Southern Minnesota town, but clearly I was wrong. Some people I talk to about it think it’s a joke and laugh it off, but I don’t think this is a laughing matter, considering some of the photos and videos taken of these creepy instances.  

I never thought I would have to take the threat of clowns seriously… Isn’t that just in the movies? Well, apparently that’s not the case because authorities and news stations are covering these stories as if the world is ending. But seriously, if we have come to the point in time where dressing up as clowns and threatening people is a new hobby, that’s my cue to pack my bags and leave the states.  

This past weekend, the clown plague hit Minnesota. There were said to be three sightings alone in Mankato so far. The majority of the sightings have taken place in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, but there are many random sightings in other cities throughout the state as well.  

The phenomenon began in South Carolina back in August when there was a sighting near an apartment complex. Since then, there has been an astounding number of sightings that are quickly sweeping the nation from east to west. Sorry Canada, but you’re not getting out of this one either.  

There are many theories as to what’s going on, but none of them are proven. One theory states that each year, the months leading up to Halloween always include some spooky clowns lurking around and it is simply a funny way to get their 15 minutes of fame.  

Forensic Criminologist, Dr. Ron Martinelli, shared his theory with US Weekly that the increase in television shows that include scary things may be having an impact on how viewers behave. Martinelli explained that the kind of people who dress up as scary clowns to get a rise out of bystanders, are insecure. By dressing up as a clown, it allows them to be on the other side of the fear and hold the power over those who are scared of them.  

Whether the clown phenomenon is merely die-hard clown lovers’ way of celebrating Halloween early, a potential psychological factor of insecurity, or perhaps none of the above, the world may never know. What I can tell you, though, is to be on the lookout. These clowns are becoming more and more “social” each day. And not in a good way. They are looking for a reaction from bystanders and we don’t know exactly what their motives are. They have been seen on security cameras on front porches, while scratching doors and banging loudly on makeshift instruments, as well as sighted in the woods by innocent people out for their daily run.  

Clown imposters also need to be careful. Authorities predict (and fear) that the clowns may now also be in danger. Officers are anxious that the public may take matters into their own hands of solving the clown issue by attacking them, and that will cause a bigger problem. Whether these sightings are real or not, the fact of the matter is that there are clowns and we don’t know their real motives. People have their opinions, and that’s exactly what they are, opinions.  

Questions for the clown imposters: who in their right mind woke up one morning and decided to walk around in public wearing a clown costume?  

Questions for the law enforcement: how does it feel to say that you are currently on the lookout for evil clowns that may be a potential threat to society? That has to be a new one for the books.

My advice is this: stay safe by being smart. Don’t go out at night alone. If you see a clown, don’t let them approach you – flee the scene. Carry pepper spray on you at all times (I do). Lastly, don’t dress up as a clown, it may be just as dangerous for you as well.  

Shaela Nelson (pronounced Shay-la), commonly referred to as Shae, is a Junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato, majoring in marketing and minoring in entrepreneurship. Shaela enjoys being a part of many organizations on campus, volunteering with animals and randomly busting out crazy dance moves. Being from the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," you can find her enjoying the lake-life while boating, at any given time of the summer - when she's not a nanny for her favorite kiddos. Shaela enjoys writing for Her Campus because it allows her to express herself and the many ideas she has. Life Motto: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams; live the life you imagined." -Henry David Thoreau