I wrote this on a forum in response to a lady that is concerned her 2 year old daughter cries nightly and is scared of a woman she "keeps seeing". I am not sure I believe a child that young can communicate in any meaningul way, at least I didn't even know what time or dates were until I was 7 and it was pointed out in class via a school room calendar that the year was "1980" - which was like handing someone a can of beans and saying "Tomorrow's red is puppy".
I remember a very vivid (well, it used to be, I'm 42 now) dream about a clown - I've remembered it for a long time so it MUST have been when I was very young, though I realize with remembered dreams, it's unreliable to factually state much about them, but I'd say I was probably 3-5 maybe?
This is possibly my earlier memory and was a typical clown but looking very scary and behaving, leaning and leering ominously - this was in like 1977 or so, I don't think I had any any cognizant knowledge or understanding of things like what a clown was. I've had some form of fear of clowns ever since this, and this *might* have been caused by something I happened to see on TV or a book (there was a killer clowns scare at some point, and John Wayne Gacy was around), but it could have just been dream imagery of something I had seen some earlier time (maybe Bozo on TV) that became a nightmare.
Anyway, I don't know if it told me verbally or it was words I heard in the dream, but I somehow got the dreadful message that my dad was going to do (not sure if it was a threat BY the clown or not) and this was what triggered my early life fear of death and mortality for me and my parents, but I wouldn't talk about it, maybe because it might make it "real", I don't know. When I was 7, my dad did die of cancer, so I don't know if this happened later and I overheard the talk about his condition, or if he was sick for a couple years, or if it was just coincidence or what.
I do remember at that age, this dream, and there was no distinction for me between "real" and "dream". I remembered when I woke up that I had seen a scary clown and got the horrible idea my dad was going to die. I didn't understand what "dreams" were then, and I had no real critical thinking to understand the weirdness of this thing happening, which doesn't happen in real life. It was just something that happened, so there was no question of it being "real", because for something to be "real", you have to understand the concept of "unreal", and I didn't.
I burst into tears when my parents took me to a high school get-together of some kind and someone dressed like Darth Vader was there, and they tried to get me to go meet him - this was HORRIFYING! I don't know if I had even seen Star Wars, but he was a big scary masked monster thing in black and basically my parents had put me down and pushed me forward into the arms of the most evil monster demon ever! I didn't know what I'd done wrong or what reason they would possibly throw me to my certain death. I'd say that might have at least slightly traumatized me at least for a short time. I DOUBLY never liked clowns or anyone in costumes after that and I still will avoid such things and though I've never been in a fight in my life, if I was backed into a corner by a clown as a prank, it's likely I would punch him just because of the anxiety I have about clowns.