What Makes A Phobia Different From Fear

August 27, 2014 7:55 PM

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Clowns, with their goofy wigs, crazy makeup, and outlandish costumes are supposed to make us laugh, right? But a surprising number of people, especially children, are terrified of clowns. Why? We are accustomed to reading facial expressions to understand the feelings and attitudes of others. But the clown wears a mask, a cartoonish painted-on smile or frown that almost seems designed to hide his or her intentions. To enjoy a clown’s performance takes trust: We must believe that, despite the clown’s wild appearance and violent-seeming actions, he or she will never actually hurt us.

Kinemortophobia, or the fear of zombies, may seem like a no-brainer (couldn’t help it—sorry!), if something of a joke. They’re dead! They want to eat your brains! Kinemortophobia is no joke, however, although it’s more accurately described as the fear of becoming a zombie. The Haitian Vodou religion...

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