A psychologist explains why clowns are so scary

Halloween has come early this year as the creepy clown craze fans out across the country, with one town after another reporting strange sightings of the costumed figures.

It started in August, when stories first surfaced in South Carolina of clowns trying to lure kids into the woods, and has since ballooned into full-blown clown contagion accompanied by threats, arrests and even one death.

In late September, a 16-year-old was stabbed and killed by a man wearing a clown mask similar to the movie version from “The Purge,” making the sightings even more alarming.

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Schools have been shut down over viral “clown attack” warnings, kids have been arrested for making threats under the guise of clown-dom, and social media has been filled with images of people lurking around in scary clown costumes, for what reason, nobody quite knows.

This rash of weird and sometimes violent behavior clearly plays on a deep-seated cultural fear of clowns — but why, exactly, do clowns freak us out so much?

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