ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A steady increase of clown sightings is causing more fear than joy.

Local sightings have included several locations in Jefferson County and over in Granite City. And that’s not counting reports of sightings in several other states.

Although most reports turned out to be false, there have even been a few arrests of creepy circus characters.

A recent Facebook post from a group called “Aint Clownin Around” recently made a threat against local high schools in Howard County, Missouri.

ABC 17 News reports that authorities are aware of the post and while, “There appears to be no immediate threat, but we take all such threats very seriously.”

Despite these ominous sightings, why are people afraid of clowns?

Dr. Randi Mozenter is a clinical psychologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Medical Center says the fear of clowns is not a recent phenomenon.

“Even 25, 30 years ago when it was very common to put clown pictures in a child’s room, a lot of children were really frightened of them,” she says.

Mozenter says people have an innate fear of others wearing masks or heavy make-up that makes them seem “alien.” It also seems like their trying to hide something sinister, while presenting the world with an outwardly happy image. There’s even a clinical term for it – coulrophobia.

But these intense fears, whether of clowns or something more sinister, is no laughing matter.

“Interfering with a person’s life or it’s keeping you from going to certain places because you can’t deal with possibly running into these images. It can be pretty disruptive,” Mozenter says.

Movies and TV shows don’t help the situation either.

“There’s been a lot of movies with scary dolls or scary clown paint or things like that,” Mozenter says. Just think of Stephen King’s “IT” or “American Horror Story.”

Despite the popular culture fixation, there are online support groups like designed to help people live their lives without fear.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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Comments (4)
  1. E Merz says:

    “It also seems like their trying to hide something sinister…”

    Seriously? You don’t have editors to catch misspellings like this? Shame on you.

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