If you’re visiting a friend’s house and notice a doll staring down at you from a shelf with a grin on its face and two glass eyes you may feel a chill just from the eerie nature of its face. But there are many dolls in the world that are said to be haunted with the spirits of the deceased. And for whatever reason, many people find that spirits are more drawn to smiling clown dolls than others. What’s the secret behind these jocund jesters of the dead? Is there any reason for clowns in particular to be more haunting than others?
Clowns have always shared an uncanny connection to the dead. Perhaps it is their pale white face paint or red noses that remind us primordially of plagues and other illness. Perhaps it is the fact that they seem to be archetypes or embodiments of a singular emotion and incapable of feeling anything other than constant laughter bordering on the sinister. Or perhaps it’s that uncanny valley between human and something else. A clown is near human, but is it really once the makeup is on and it is no longer capable of anything more than laughter? Some suggest a fear of clowns comes from childhood experiences of clowns terrorizing youths when their parents are away, but the fear seems too pervasive in culture to really be explained by something so simple. There’s just something about clowns that many people feel a fear towards that borders on a pathologically diagnosed illness. Coulrophobia is the name of the exaggerated fear of clowns that exists in some people. Is it due to this coulrophobia that so many clown dolls are said to inhabit the ghosts of the deceased? Or is there something more to it?
One ghost story commonly told around the subject tells of a girl who realized her daughter had thrown away a doll given to her by a distant aunt. After closing the dumpster in her back yard she thought nothing of it until the following week when she saw the doll once again on her shelf in her daughter’s room. When she asked her daughter about the strange reappearance her daughter, who was six at the time responded, “It won’t let me throw it away.” Chilled by the event and a series of terrifying dreams, she had the doll destroyed. This is only a typical example of a clown doll story. But others come to the defense of these dolls saying they may not be alive, but if they truly are sentient then they deserve the same kind of respect that any other paranormal entity would deserve.
Chances are most people are going to feel very polarized about the presence of a clown doll in their home. Those that consider them creepy will only be more disturbed by the fact that the paranormal activity seems to surround a doll figurine imagining it to be a harbinger of doom and terror while those who feel indifferent to clowns themselves may be inclined to feel that such a clown figure would have a difficult time finding a “home” in which it will be safe from those who would destroy it.