March: The Fear of Friday the 13th and Other Phobias

March: The Fear of Friday the 13th and Other Phobias

Paraskevidekatriaphobia. A mouthful of that equates to fear of Friday the 13th. This is closely linked to yet another tongue twister, Triskaidekaphobia, which is defined as the fear of the number 13, driving countless denizens worldwide to avoid this number in any aspect of their lives at all costs.


From Judas Iscariot sitting in the 13th seat at the Last Supper to Friday 13, 1307, the day that marked the massive slaughter of Knights Templar, detained and burnt at the cross in France, to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ taking place on Friday the 13th, to Geoffrey Chaucer’s admonition against starting a project or a trip on a Friday, as related in The Canterbury Tales. The truth is that all these fears and collective hysteria were rekindled and exacerbated during the highly superstitious Victorian Era in the 19th Century.

The Thirteen Club was notorious in America for striving to debunk this superstition. Member demises were to be recorded as they purposefully met on the 13th, spilled salt, and customarily walked under ladders.

Finally, in the early 1980’s Hollywood, the hysteria was glorified first by a film and then by the ensuing saga starring a vicious assassin by the name of Jason.

Incidentally, this mostly British and American fear has spread due to the cultural Americanization of the Western world. Italians originally exercised caution on Friday the 17th, while Spanish-speaking countries have Tuesdays as their doomsday.

Medical Phobias

Phobos is the Greek word at the root of phobia, defined as an irrational or morbid fear of any given element unlikely to bring bad luck or cause harm. In medical terms, they are classified as anxiety disorders, sometimes followed by panic attacks, and they are reported to affect up to 30% of the US population, with the specific fear of medical procedures peaking well over that figure. From the social agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) to the physical hydrophobia (fear of water), the list is seemingly endless. But what are some of the specific, even loosely related, health-‘n-medical phobias?

· Hypochondria… is the fear of being seriously ill.

· Pathophobia… is the fear of disease.

· Algophobia… is the fear of pain.

· Dentophobia… is the fear of dentists.

· Odontophobia… is the fear of dental surgery.

· Iatrophobia… is the fear of doctors.

· Leukophobia… is the fear of the color white.

· Somniophobia… is the fear of sleep.

· Nosocomephobia… is the fear of hospitals.

· Aphenphosmphobia… is the fear of being touched.

· Trypanophobia… is the fear of needles and injections.

· Aichmophobia … is the fear of pointed objects, like needles.

· Necrophobia… is the fear of death or dead things.

· Hemophobia… is the fear of blood.

· Lockiophobia… is the fear of childbirth.

· Anginophobia… is the fear of choking or angina.

· Bacteriophobia… is the fear of bacteria.

· Verminophobia… is the fear of germs.

· Pharmacophobia… is the fear of medicine.

Fortunately, medical savvy of these conditions is quite advanced. The treatment is often a combination of therapy (i.e., exposure therapy, hypnotherapy) and medication. Please check with your doctor so he/she can refer you to a mental health specialist.


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