Triskaidekaphobia is persistent, irrational and unwarranted fear of the number 13. This number has always been associated with something negative or evil: Jesus’ famous Last supper had 13 guests, the 13th being the same one who betrayed Him. People with Triskaidekaphobia are called Triskaidekaphobes. They tend to experience severe anxiety at the thought or sight of this number. As a result, they might refuse to step out of their homes on the 13th day of each month or avoid anything that has to do with it. In many cases, this fear can be deeply debilitating.
Even more common is the fear of number 13 that arrives on a Friday. This fear or phobia associated with Friday the 13th is termed as Paraskevidekatriaphobia. . In France, King Philip IV was known to have conducted raids, arrested and tried the templar knights on charges of blasphemy, homosexuality etc on October 13th 1307, which happened to be a Friday. Friday the 13th has hence been known to be associated with many urban legends.
There are many superstitious beliefs associated with Friday as well: it is believed that evil arises on this day, especially because Lord Jesus’ crucifixion took place on a Friday. People are hence known to avoid gambling or buying lottery tickets on this day. (However, contrary evidence has actually shown that many lucky winners have won millions of dollars playing the lottery on Friday the 13th and children born on Friday the 13th are actually considered blessed in some cultures). Hence, in many cultures, people host Friday the 13th parties to celebrate the day. In Brazil however, Friday the 13th in August is considered very ‘harmful or dangerous’ since August rhymes with ‘desgosto’ or sorrow.
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Thus, across the world, there are many beliefs and associations with the number 13 and Friday, and not all of them are good or positive.
Causes of Triskaidekaphobia
Whatever is the source or trigger of fear of the number 13, it is now known that logical and systematic thought has limits. The phobic often knows his fear is irrational and unwarranted, yet he is powerless to control it.
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- As stated above, the fear of the number 13 is deeply rooted in humans due to traditions as well as its Biblical association. Judas, who betrayed Jesus ultimately and led to His subsequent death, was believed to have been the 13th Apostle present at the Last Supper.
- In modern culture, the fear of the number 13 might be instigated further by airlines and hotels since many refuse to use this number while numbering their aisles, floors, rooms etc.
- A negative or traumatic event occurring in someone’s life on the 13th day of the month might also trigger Triskaidekaphobia.
- Movies, news reports, and books on this topic can all enhance this fear.
- The phobia might also be associated with other phobias like Thanatophobia, Agoraphobia etc. People already suffering from anxiety or panic disorders are more likely to experience Triskaidekaphobia
Symptoms of fear of the number 13 phobia
Symptoms of this phobia may be emotional, mental or physical. There is a constant movie or negative stills playing in the phobic’s mind.
- The Triskaidekaphobe will try to avoid anything that has to do with this number.
- S/he experiences deep anxiety or dread at the thought or sight of number 13
- Often, one is unable to function normally due to the fear.
- S/he might experience one or more of the following: rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, chest pains, fainting spells, shaking, trembling, urge to cry or scream or hide etc.
- The phobic is scared of having a panic attack that may cause him/her to lose control and embarrass oneself.
Treatment for Triskaidekaphobia
To overcome any phobia, it is important to find out how the mind creates the fear of a certain object or situation.
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- Hypnosis is a great way of finding the root of the fear. Once the phobic understands the roots, s/he is in a better position to overcome it.
- Writing down one’s fearful thoughts and changing them to positive or happy thoughts is another way of overcoming anxiety associated with the number 13.
- Meditation, deep breathing, yoga and other powerful mind-body techniques can also help relieve anxiety.
- Drugs and medicines may be used but these are not long term solutions and they also have harmful side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
- Creating new neural pathways in the brain is an important technique to overcome phobia or fear of the number 13. This is done through a therapy called NLP which stands for neuro linguistic programming. It can help recode the mind with new feelings and situations so that the brain does not evoke the same response each time it encounters the number 13.
Thus, a number of methods can be used for overcoming Triskaidekaphobia but it is best to seek expert help to learn techniques that can help one ‘rewire’ the mind and overcome the fear of number 13 once and for all.