WATCH: Sociologist reveals why clowns trigger such intense fears

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Mar 26, 2021, 7:00 AM EDT (Updated)

Technically, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, coulrophobia is a subcategory of clinical phobias, resulting in extreme, persistent fear of anxiety whenever exposed to clowns or clown imagery and causing "significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning."

To anyone diagnosed with this frightening affliction on any level, costumed clowns from Bozo and the Joker to Ronald McDonald and Pennywise can instantly trigger panic.

SYFY WIRE sat down with noted sociologist Dr. Margee Kerr inside the haunted halls of Pennsylvania's historic Eastern State Penitentiary to dissect just how we've developed such an unwarranted fear of clowns, how they strike us on a neurological level, their distorted bodily features, and how they drop us deep into the Uncanny Valley, colorful bouquet of happy balloons or not.


Additional material by Jeff Spry.