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Automatonophobia: Irrational Fear of Dolls, Wax Figures, Puppets, and Dummies

FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and parent with an interest in DIY and health topics.

Mannequin Mischief: Artsy, Offbeat, or Just Plain Creepy?

A mostly male group of mannequins cavort in their birthday suits in a Paris shop window.

A mostly male group of mannequins cavort in their birthday suits in a Paris shop window.

Unexpected Scene in a Paris Shop Window

The scene was so out of place amidst Paris' bread shops, fashion boutiques, and quaint sidewalk cafés. Yet there it stood like an accident scene, begging the bystander to look for a moment too long. I stopped in my tracks and complied.

The object of my fascination was a shop window filled with more than a dozen male mannequins. How surreal. Together they cavorted merrily in their birthday suits. Frozen in time and space, they did chin-ups, waited patiently for their turns, and played chase. One even tried to fly.

Entranced by the weirdness of it all, I stared—gawked even. Then I did what any good tourist would do: I took photos. After all, you just don't get this type of thing where I'm from.

Although intrigued, I also found the scene bizarre. It was as if I had caught the mannequins in the midst of some kind of naked aerobics. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But it all seemed so ... creepy? Artsy? Over the top?

Reader Opinion Poll

Mannequin Shenanigans

Did I catch them in the middle of naked mannequin aerobics?  Is there a message to these mannequin displays?  Or, does the window designer just have an offbeat sense of humor?

Did I catch them in the middle of naked mannequin aerobics? Is there a message to these mannequin displays? Or, does the window designer just have an offbeat sense of humor?

Fear of Mannequins and Other Human-Like Figures

Although I'm not afraid of mannequins, there are plenty of people who are. If you're one of them, turn back now. You have been warned. Trust me: the scenes get more unnerving from here.

Automatonophobia: Irrational Fear of Things That Impersonate Sentient Beings

Automatonophobia refers to an irrational fear of any object that falsely imitates a living, conscious being (human and other animals). Common examples include dolls, wax figures, puppets, animatronics, prostheses, and ventriloquist dummies.

Automatonophobia is an umbrella term and includes several more specific categories of phobias, including:

  • coulrophobia - fear of clowns
  • pupaphobia - fear of puppets
  • pediophobia - fear of dolls

Double Take

Who is being watched -- people on the street or these mannequins?

Who is being watched -- people on the street or these mannequins?

Symptoms of Automatonophobia

Symptoms of automatonophobia mirror those of most phobias to specific objects.1 Faced with a doll, mannequin or other feared object, a person may experience both emotional and physiological symptoms, including:

  • a feeling of dread
  • trembling
  • rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • perspiration
  • nausea
  • dry mouth and even
  • a full-blown panic attack.2

If any of this sounds familiar to you, refer to the sidebar (at right) for a description of diagnostic criteria for phobias.

Additionally, there are on-line screening tools available which can help you determine whether you need to seek professional help.

Impacts of Automatonophobia on Daily Living

Those who suffer from automatonophobia can experience significant impacts to daily functioning.

For example, some people are so debilitated by their fear of mannequins that they find it difficult to do their own shopping. Imagine being afraid of the display dummies in the mall!

Others are required to deal with practice dummies as a part of their professional training. Medical professionals often train with dummies when learning CPR, surgical techniques, drawing blood and doing spinal taps. They even practice on dummies when learning how to deliver babies. Some of the most advanced digital mannequins are designed to speak, blink their eyes, breathe, and even "die" if their quality of care is insufficient.4

In such cases, fear of dummies can potentially end a career before it really gets started.

Fear or Full-Blown Phobia?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a classification system used by mental health professionals to diagnose and describe mental conditions.

Accordingly, people who are truly phobic (as opposed to merely fearful of something) demonstrate a variety of behaviors.

  • Those who have a phobia to a specific object or situation experience a marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable. The fear is out of proportion to the actual level of danger posed by the specific object or situation.3 The fear can be prompted by either the presence of a specific object or situation or the mere anticipation of it.
  • Exposure to the specific object or situation almost always creates immediate anxiety.
  • The person avoids the specific object or situation or endures it with immense anxiety or distress.
  • Avoiding the situation or object, anxiously anticipating it, or the distress of experiencing it significantly interferes with the person's ordinary activities. His or her routine functioning is impacted at work, school, or in social relationships. Or, the person experiences significant distress about having the phobia.
  • The individual has experienced symptoms for at least six months.
  • The person's anxiety, panic attacks, or pattern of avoiding a specific object or situation is not better categorized by another mental disorder.

Who Experiences Phobias?

In general, women tend to experience phobias (of any type) at higher rates than men. One research sample, for example, found that more than one-fourth of women experienced some type of specific object or situation phobia.5 This was more than double the prevalence among men.

Unfortunately, having one phobia makes you more prone to having other phobias later. Over 75% of people diagnosed with a specific phobia experience multiple phobias throughout their lifetime. More than half struggled with three or more phobias.

The average age of onset for specific phobias is seven years old.6 Research has found a relationship between the development of specific phobias and lower socioeconomic class.

"Look Into My Eye"

This dirty dolly needs a good scrub and an urgent trip to the doll doctor.

This dirty dolly needs a good scrub and an urgent trip to the doll doctor.

How a Phobia Develops

A phobia can have either sudden or gradual onset. It can be triggered in several ways, including:

  • directly suffering a traumatic event (e.g., being frightened in the presence of a doll)
  • observing someone else expressing fear in a scary situation (e.g., watching a scary movie about an evil ventriloquist dummy)
  • hearing threatening information about an object or situation (e.g., stories about killer clowns and child abductors dressed up as clowns).

There is also research that suggests that each of the following play a role in the development of phobias:

  • genetics
  • brain chemistry
  • culture, and
  • personality — specifically the tendency towards neuroticism.7

(Neuroticism is a normal personality trait that describes the extent to which a person is prone to experience anxiety, moodiness, worry, envy and jealousy.)

Claudia Schiffer: Is She for Real?

Paris' Grevin Museum features wax doubles of movie stars, celebrities and politicians.

Paris' Grevin Museum features wax doubles of movie stars, celebrities and politicians.

What Makes a Doll or Other Humanoid Figure Look Creepy?

There are several theories about just what causes a doll, dummy, or other human-like figure to appear frightening. Psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch theorized that feelings of discomfort arise when people are confused about whether an inanimate object is alive. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed that phobias are the result of unresolved childhood conflicts between the self-centered id and the judgmental superego.

What? They're Afraid of Me?

These two dolls find it hard to imagine that anyone might be afraid of them.

These two dolls find it hard to imagine that anyone might be afraid of them.

The Uncanny Valley

Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori also attempted to explain people's reactions to almost-human looking figures.8 Mori used a line graph to plot people's emotional reactions to the human appearance and movement of objects such as stuffed animals, prosthetic limbs, androids, dolls and puppets.

The more something resembles a human, the more positively we respond to it -- but only up to a point. However, if an inanimate object is "trying too hard" to be human, we begin to notice that there is something "not quite right" about it.

When this occurs, we are revolted at the imposter. We see it as eerie and scary rather than beautiful. For example, a doll stares blankly into space. A wax figure doesn't show signs of inhaling and exhaling. A prosthetic limb fails to have the warmth of human skin. These differences about the object shock and frighten us.

Mori terms this sudden dip in emotional reaction "the uncanny valley." He therefore recommends that limb prostheses, for example, be made to look visibly artificial so as not to creep others out.

Because of the uncanny valley, roboticist Mashahiro Mori recommends that prostheses be made to look obviously artificial.

Because of the uncanny valley, roboticist Mashahiro Mori recommends that prostheses be made to look obviously artificial.

Seeking Treatment for Phobias

Although phobias are highly treatable conditions, a skilled therapist is required. The typical aim of therapy is to reduce fear and avoidance responses. One of the more popular and effective treatment options include Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It involves challenging fearful thoughts and modifying the fear that one has learned to associate with an object or situation.

Unfortunately, only about one-third of those with phobias receive treatment for it. Among those who do seek treatment, 25–50% drop out.

Gifu Japan's Scarecrow Mannequins

Reader Poll

Movies That Inspire Automatonophobia

If you don't have automatonophobia but want to work on acquiring it, try the following movies that feature scary dolls:

Chucky Movies

Anyone who has ever watched Chucky on screen most certainly recalls the doll with the soul of a serial killer. He talks. He engages in black magic. He wields a knife and hacks people to pieces.

"Child's Play" is a series of three movies beginning in 1988. A single mother gives her young son a red-haired boy doll only to find that it is trying to insert its serial killer soul into the boy in order to become human. Butchering ensues.

In later movies, "Bride of Chucky" and "Seed of Chucky," the doll finds a partner and reproduces. The movie "Curse of Chucky," released in 2013, renewed the series with a new round of killings.

This Chucky Doll Could Give You Nightmares

The movie Child's Play and its sequels feature Chucky, a doll with the soul of a serial killer.

The movie Child's Play and its sequels feature Chucky, a doll with the soul of a serial killer.

The Clown In "Poltergeist"

In the 1982 movie "Poltergeist," a family is attacked in their own home by terrors both seen and unseen. One of the assailants is a creepy clown doll that plays into every kid's worst nightmare. It grabs the kid and drags him under the bed.

Fats the Ventriloquist Dummy in "Magic"

This classic 1978 psychological thriller features Anthony Hopkins as a mentally ill magician and ventriloquist who is the object of his malicious dummy's control issues. When the magician attempts to rekindle an old flame with his high school sweetheart, Fats, his foul-mouthed, knife-wielding dummy intervenes.

The movie idea of a deranged ventriloquist dummy struck a nerve with parents, as its televised advertisements had to be discontinued. Parents complained that the advertisements alone gave their children bad dreams. Promotional ads featured Fats' eyes rolling to the back of his head as the movie's tag line was read by an off-screen actor ("Abracadabra I sit on his knee, Presto change and now he is me. Hocus pocus we take her to bed, Magic is fun, We're dead.") Then, the doll's eyes open and look left. Creepy!

Creepy Doll Video

Reborn Dolls: Are They Cute or Just Plain Creepy?

There is a population of grown up little girls who refuse to give up their dollies.

Primarily older women, these doll enthusiasts spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to "adopt" very human lifelike dolls called "reborns." Online storefronts for reborns are set up like "nurseries" with an "adoption" process.9

Sometimes reborns replace an infant the woman lost or never had, or a child who has long since grown up. It is not uncommon for the dolls' adoptive "mothers" to treat it as one would an infant, including talking to it, carrying it with her in public, and even throwing birthday parties for it.10

Just what makes these reborn dolls so special?

Reader Opinion Poll

Close Mimicry

Reborns are molded from vinyl and are designed to be as humanly authentic as possible. They have dimples, manicured nails, open nose holes, and their skin has a mottled appearance resembling that of a newborn.

Reborn arms, legs and heads are also weighted to give the doll the feel of a real baby. Some such dolls even have

  • electronic devices to emulate heart beats
  • voice boxes to produce infant crying and other sounds
  • mechanical breathing mechanisms to imitate inhaling and exhaling and
  • heat packs to make them feel warm to the touch.

Watch a Segment on Reborn Dolls on Dr. Phil Then Decide

Mistaken for the Real Thing

Unfortunately, there have been occasions when reborns were so well crafted that they were mistaken for the real thing.11 Police have occasionally broken into hot cars to "rescue" abandoned reborn infants. More frequently, people have also cooed over a reborn out for a stroll with its "mother" only to learn it is art imitating life.

Reborn dolls first appeared in the United States in the early 1990s. Now also popular in Europe and Australia, the dolls have no sign of slowing down — or growing up.

Almost Real

These doll legs look almost like the real thing.

These doll legs look almost like the real thing.

Sources

1Lockett, E. (n.d.). Automatonophobia: All about a fear of human-like figures. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/automatonophobia.

2Peter Field Hypnotherapy. "Fears and Phobias." Accessed August 10, 2013. http://www.peterfieldhypnotherapy.co.uk/fear_phobia_help_treatment_hypnotherapy.html.

3Grohol, John M. "DSM-5 Changes: Anxiety Disorders & Phobias." Psych Central Professional. Accessed August 10, 2013. http://pro.psychcentral.com/dsm-5-changes-anxiety-disorders-phobias/004266.html.

4CBS News. "How dummies, drills aid medical training." Last modified April 7, 2013. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57578272/how-dummies-drills-aid-medical-training/

5LeBeau, Richard T., Daniel Glenn, Betty Liao, Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Katja Beesdo-Baum, Thomas Ollendick, and Michelle G. Craske. "Specific Phobia: A Review of DSM-IV Specific Phobia and Preliminary Recommendations For DSM-V." Depression and Anxiety 27 (2010): 148-167. Accessed August 10, 2013. http://www.dsm5.org/research/documents/lebeau_sp.pdf.

6National Institutes of Mental Health. "Specific Phobia Among Adults." NIMH. Accessed October 22, 2014. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/specific-phobia-among-adults.shtml.

7Hettema, John M., Michael C. Neale, John M. Myers, Carol A. Prescott, and Kenneth S. Kendler. "A Population-Based Twin Study of the Relationship Between Neuroticism and Internalizing Disorders." The American Journal of Psychiatry 163 (2006): 857-864.

8"Uncanny Valley Home." University of Michigan. Accessed April 25, 2016. http://www.umich.edu/~uncanny/intro.html.

9Williams, Zoe. "Reborns: dolls so lifelike you could mistake them for real infants." The Guardian. Last modified November 25, 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/nov/25/reborns-lifelike-baby-dolls.

10Maria. "Women Living With Fake Baby Dolls Treat Them Like Real Children." Jezebel. Last modified January 2, 2003. http://jezebel.com/5122258/women-living-with-fake-baby-dolls-treat-them-like-real-children.

11Opam, Kwame. "What Kind of Doll Can Make the Police Destroy a Car?" Gizmodo. Last modified July 30, 2011. http://gizmodo.com/5826240/what-kind-of-doll-can-make-the-police-destroy-a-car.

Hey, Doll Face, Here's Looking at You

Eyes unblinking, they see your every move.

Eyes unblinking, they see your every move.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 21, 2017:

Alun - I love your comment. Year ago, my mother mailed my sister a gift of a doll that she perceived to be creepy. She was horrified, very offended, disgusted. It was real, but not. It grossed her out. Two of the three of us still laugh about it to this day. You can probably guess which among us does not.

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on August 21, 2017:

Very very interesting Flourish. I'm no expert on this, but the effect that these things have on us is fascinating. Some of the photos - particularly the doll photos - are genuinely eerie, and some could easily serve as poster pin-ups for a horror movie. I also thought the Japanese scarecrow mannequins were creepy - doubly so for the music which accompanies that video!

I like the sections of the article which look at the psychology behind this (the 'Uncanny Valley' etc). We do have a natural inclination to see real-life human faces in everything - after all, two dots and an arc are enough of an emoticon to make us visualise a smiley face. So anything more complex than that, such as a cartoon character or a doll, can easily be visualised as real, and can then evoke emotion. But if it goes too far, as Masahiro Mori points out in your article, then it becomes disconcertingly almost human, yet strangely inhuman.

Whatever the explanation, I'm sure there is something innate about this - perhaps we wouldn't all suffer a deep phobia, but certainly a feeling of unease is normal. To explain what I mean, I will say that I absolutely do NOT believe in any supernatural phenomena such as ghosts, ghouls or indeed dolls with a mind of their own. I'd bet every penny I have that these things don't exist. I'm rational. Having said that, ask me to spend the night in a supposedly haunted house, or sleep alone in a room with some of your featured dolls 'staring' at me, and a cold shiver would go down my spine, and I'd probably refuse!! Why?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 28, 2017:

Harlow - What a beautiful name you have! Thank you for sharing your reactions to those storefront mannequins in Paris.

Harlow on May 28, 2017:

Regarding that first poll about mannequins in the store window: I chose "other" because what they caused me to feel didn't any of available options truly discribe. I felt more like intimidated and frightened by them.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 23, 2017:

Elenafinia O'Carroll - Your phobia seems to be interfering with your life so that you may strongly consider seeking professional help from a qualified, trained clinical psychologist who can help you.

Elenafinia O'Carroll on May 23, 2017:

I think I have a serious fear of ventriloquist dummies and I have no idea why. Whenever I see them I loose control of breathing, shake, feel sick, gag and on one occasion I actually passed out. How do I stop this?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 27, 2017:

AL - You may be phobic then.

AL on January 27, 2017:

OMG the most Scariest pictures ever

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 29, 2016:

Paula - We have a contagion effect of people getting scared over those clowns but you have to wonder about the creepers in the costumes. what are they thinking? Thanks for reading!

Suzie from Carson City on September 29, 2016:

FA....Fabulous work here, girl! Bravo. So fascinating and I cannot believe that just tonight I was listening to my favorite talk radio show while driving and THIS was the topic of discussion! Exactly what you present here. The host was taking calls form listeners and I think you'd have really enjoyed some of the feedback.

This has me thinking the creepy clowns are stalking me!!!

I have to admit that I get spooked out usually when we visit the wax museums in Canada.......especially if I am foolish enough to stare at their faces for any length of time! Yikes....goosebumps. I always think they'll move or talk any second!! LOL....Paula

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 29, 2016:

Nadine - In the United States right now there is a trend for creepy people to appear in regular, public places like malls or schools dressed as clowns and it's freaking people out completely. Usually they're just playing pranks, but it's really not appreciated by many. Especially given the issues of random violence and terrorism, people are so creeped out. Home Depot, a home repair store, was even selling a "face" that mimicked a peeping Tom and people were so creeped out that the stores took the product off the shelf. It's a window cling-on so they know it's not real but "just real enough" to be offensive.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on September 29, 2016:

What a very thought provoking article. I totally dislike creepy horror movies but for the rest I have no phobia for Dolls, Wax Figures, Puppets and Dummies.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 03, 2015:

Lorenzo - Thanks for sharing.

lorenzo rosado on November 03, 2015:

i have a thing of dolls i hate them

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 27, 2015:

Xranger452 - Thanks for your comment. At least you know what's going on and know that help exists for it, should you decide to seek it. Be well and happy.

Xranger452 on October 27, 2015:

I probably have this phobia but not too bad

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 27, 2015:

Angelica - Thanks for sharing your experience so that others know how serious this can be. Please consider seeking the help of a qualified therapist for a solution.

Angelica on August 26, 2015:

I have been afraid of mannequins since I was old enough to even know what they were.Often times my family judged me for it but I can't help it if something that's not human look like it! J someday want to get over my fear but sadly every time I think about it I get extremely anxious ..y'all pray for me

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 29, 2015:

Peng Wynn - From what you describe, I would say that it definitely interferes with your functioning. For your own comfort and positive living, please consider seeking help from a qualified psychotherapist with experience in treating phobias. It may feel like you are alone and no one understands, but I promise that's not the case. Thank you for sharing the details of your experience so that others can understand what it feels like.

Peng Wynn on March 29, 2015:

I found this article fascinating, my phobia isn't something I talk about often because I feel like a lot of people don't understand the impact it has on me and I suppose because it's so unusual I feel a little embarrassed by it and try to control it as much as possible.

When I was a little I couldn't go near masks, wigs, dummies or mannekins, dolls were never a problem. As an adult it is now just mannekins... I am very uneasy in clothes shops, I have to plan my route through the isles being aware of how close I am getting. I'm relatively fine as long as I'm aware of where the mannekins are and I'm in control of my distance from them - if it's a busy shop I start to panic about being pushed towards one.

If I'm in a shop with someone who doesn't know about my phobia I don't make a fuss, I can stay relatively calm, but I'm on guard, my focus is completely l on where the mannekins are and I should imagine they find me a little diverted. Otherwise it's fine. If I'm too close however, or I'm in danger of touching one, I will just outright panic in the same way I would were I in danger of being harmed. If confronted with a mannekin I was not aware of I have been known to shriek out loud and will be physically shaken for a while after. Luckily I have never touched one, the thought of it can be too much to handle - I can't watch other people touch them.

I often have recurring dreams about mannekins falling on me, being trapped beneath them or waking up with them in my bed. It sounds ridiculous I'm sure - but to me, I don't understand why this isn't a more common phobia. This article is the first time I've come across something that described my situation perfectly, and still, even in the comments there isn't anything I can relate to.

It's something I've lived with all my life, I'm as cautious walking through shopping centred as anyone else would be crossing a busy road.

I also do work in the medical profession - another reason I chose to leave a comment! Fortunately my colleagues know the basics of my phobia and are very understanding of it.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 18, 2014:

jen - Bless your heart.

jen on September 17, 2014:

i will try to finish reading this some other time. I can't get pass through the pages without goosebumps and rapid breathing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 18, 2014:

A.J. - Dummies and mimes are a little weird to me! Glad to hear your perspective, and thanks for stopping by.

AJ Long from Pennsylvania on February 17, 2014:

Clowns and ventriloquist dummies attract and repel me. I wouldn't say I have automatonophobia, but I get chilled thinking of the sometime. Two Twilight Zone episodes may have contributed to it: The Dummy and Caesar and Me! Interesting Hub FlourishAnyway!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 22, 2013:

ologsinquito - Thanks for reading. I'm so glad you liked it that much! It was a very enjoyable hub to write. Have a great day!

ologsinquito from USA on October 22, 2013:

This was absolutely fascinating, to the point where I couldn't stop reading the article. Chucky is a scary guy.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 23, 2013:

DDE - I tend to agree with you on the reborn dolls issue -- a little out there if you ask me! Glad you enjoyed this hub and thanks for reading, commenting, and Facebook sharing. Have a great day.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 23, 2013:

Automatonophobia: Irrational Fear Of Dolls, Wax Figures, Puppets and Dummies very interesting hub and I do find dolls creepy made up or reborn most creepy. I have watched Chucky and know exactly what you mean about these dolls. Again you have accomplished a well presented hub voted up and shared on Facebook

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 20, 2013:

Crafty - I bet the wax figures in New York are very cool to see. I think you're right about Stephen King's "It." I think he gave a lot of people the heebie jeebies about clowns. Thanks for reading and commenting.

CraftytotheCore on September 20, 2013:

I've been to a wax museum in New York. It was really amazing. The wax figures were so life-like! I do have a small phobia to clowns. I don't know how that started, maybe when I watched Steven King's It!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 14, 2013:

Dolores - Why people think clowns would cheer up sick kids is beyond me. Creep them out, yes, but make them happy? Nah. Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on August 14, 2013:

Walking through a hospital the other day, I saw 2 clowns stroll by and thought that if any of my kids had a clown come to visit them while they were sick, well, it wouldn't have gone over very well. Ha! The manniquins in your first pictures are enough to scare anyone - they look ghostly! (Voted up and shared. This one is a doozy!)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 12, 2013:

Hi, travmaj - I'm sure there are many who dislike him for the same hard to pinpoint reasons! I've never liked the fact that clowns tend not to talk.

travmaj from australia on August 12, 2013:

hi again - you certainly gave me something to ponder re clowns - the one I mentioned seems to be the Pierrot Clown - perhaps the tear painted on his face disturbed me - I didn't have a phobia - just never liked him and still feel the same way. Yikes, now I am worried....! Best wishes...

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 11, 2013:

travmaj - Thank you for reading, commenting, voting. It is very French, isn't it?! I find it so fascinating that you said you disliked a particular clown as a child. I wonder whether it was his looks or whether you were picking up on some element of his behavior. Interesting to ponder.

travmaj from australia on August 11, 2013:

This is a most intriguing and fascinating hub - I admit to ignorance re Automatonophobia - although looking at those creepy dolls I might now be a candidate. Chilling.

As a child I disliked a particular clown in the local circus - he had a white face and a tear painted on it. I like the mannequins in the Paris window - very French!

Thank you for this - great reading. Voting.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 11, 2013:

SavannahEve - Thanks for reading and voting. The most common way of acquiring the phobia is through direct exposure to a trauma ( i.e., an experience such as being scared in the presence of a doll/puppet/other feared object). A person sometimes doesn't even recall the original traumatic event. Phobias are highly treatable with a trained, competent therapist. Seek one out for your daughter if her symptoms trouble her.

Suzi Rayve from California on August 11, 2013:

Oh my what a creepy and yet eerily captivating hub! My daughter has this phobia very badly! Now I understand why! Voted up!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 11, 2013:

Rose - Thanks for reading, voting, and commenting. I think the Parisian mannequins are artsy, too, but was a little wierded out by the fact that the female ones tended to be headless, armless, and legless and uninvolved in the naked aerobics thing they had going on. What a bent, creative mind who came up with the display! It sure had my attention.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on August 11, 2013:

Great article and very cool images! I know that there are people that are afraid of dolls, puppets, clowns and so on but I was unaware that it was a phobia and their was actually a term for it. I guess I can see how it could happen especially with movies like Chucky as you mentioned or like Stephen King's famous clown in "It". This was a very interesting and informative read and by the way, I think the Parisian mannequins look very "Artsy" and "Avant-Garde". Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up)

-Rose

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 11, 2013:

peachpurple - Thank you for reading. The video of the scarecrow mannequins is kooky, I think. Good idea for Halloween.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 11, 2013:

mhatter99 - Thanks for reading and commenting. There is a phobia for everyone, or so it seems.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 11, 2013:

yeah sometimes this mannequin sure is creepy

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 11, 2013:

mhatter99 - Thanks for reading and commenting. There is a phobia for everyone, or so it seems.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on August 11, 2013:

Unique subject. very creative writing. thank you

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 10, 2013:

Bill - I agree with you. The reborn dolls can be beautiful, lifelike and over the top. I liked that even Dr. Phil thought they were wacky.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 10, 2013:

donnah75 - Thank you for the kudos. When I saw those mannequins, I just had to have photos. I knew I'd use them somehow!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 10, 2013:

pstraubie48 - Thanks for reading and commenting. A lot of people find clowns creepy, often mentioning it's the face paint and bulbous nose. It also doesn't help that John Wayne Gacy, the infamous serial killer, dressed as a clown to lure victims. There have also been reports in the last few years of people abducting or attempting to abduct children while dressed as a clown. Weird and scary. The mannequin display was in a very artsy area of Paris, and I believe they were selling mannequins. It just wasn't all that obviously connected to whatever oddness they had going on in that window.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 10, 2013:

There is a name for almost every kind of fear so I guess I should not be surprised that this one exists. I am not fearful of clown figures but they creep me out. I just do not like to look at them. I do not even like to look at live ones....maybe it is because I say IT (based on Stephen King's novel)???? I do not know.

This was interesting...the mannequin display was a great way to attract attention....was it an ad for something or just a display ??

Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on August 10, 2013:

Wow, what an interesting hub! I love that you captured the photos of the Paris windows. I wonder what that display was all about. That you then linked it to the rest of the article was brilliant thinking and writing. I suppose there is a fine line between the cute and the creepy. Voted up and sharing.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 10, 2013:

Hi FA. Very interesting indeed. Actually fascinating and a little creepy at the same time. Yes, I'm sure that Chucky doll has inspired a few nightmares in his day. I never thought I had a phobia for this type of thing but now I'm not so sure :) And reborn dolls. Hmmm, also a little creepy.

Loved this hub. Voted up, shared, etc.... Have a wonderful weekend

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 10, 2013:

tobusiness - I agree with you. Chucky was something else! Thanks for reading and voting.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 10, 2013:

Well, that Chucky was certainly a hell of a doll! :) I'm not too keen on ventriloquist dummies or puppets either but not exactly a phobia, more finger nails on blackboard kinda feeling. The mannequins in the Paris window, however; looks Interesting.

Fascinating hub, voting up and interesting.