Everything you need to know about Triskaidekaphobia: the fear of 13


What is Triskaidekaphobia?

This article covers detailed insights about Triskaidekaphobia or fear of number 13 including its meaning, origin, symptoms, causes, and treatments.

You are suffering from viral infection and ready to visit the doctor. You have reached the hospital and your appointment is set at 11:00 AM. At 11:00 AM, the assistant calls your name and ask you to meet the doctor in room number 13. This is a normal situation. You will go to room number 13 and get your treatment prescribed by the doctor. Imagine, on hearing that you have to go to number 13, you start feeling strange, your pulse rate goes high, you start sweating and your heart starts shouting to run out of the hospital! In this case, you might be suffering from Triskaidekaphobia. This is only one scenario. There can be multiple situations that can trigger this phobia. It is similar to the phobia of water, heights, or any other thing.

Triskaidekaphobia is also referred to as a fear of the number 13. Usually, number 13 is considered an unlucky number by many people. When I was working with an online trading company, I had noticed that they did not have number 13 in their any series of SKUs. This can be considered as a superstition and not Triskaidekaphobia. But people with Triskaidekaphobia react in an unusual way on the encounter of this number. This fear affects their daily life, work, as well as social life. They might avoid certain routines on the 13th date of every month, they might even deny going outside on that day. Anything associated with the number 13 threatens them or seem evil to them. Hence, they go out of their way to avoid facing this number.

There is also another form of this phobia which is associated with Friday phobia. It only makes things worse for the patients. If Friday is falling on date 13, people with this fear will start panicking. It is believed that some events that happened in the past on date 13 make some people panic, to an extent that they develop this phobia. Let’s take a look at its origin and myths about it.

Origin of fear of 13

Triskaidekaphobia, a fear of 13 is completely based on superstitions and mindset. If we see from the point of science, there is no proof about these superstitions being true. However, there are many stories behind this. The first belief says that at the time of the last supper, there were thirteen people on the table including 12 disciples and Jesus Christ. Right after a few hours of that lunch, Jesus Christ was hung to death. This is one of the plenty of other theories behind this condition.

Another belief says that it originated during the pre-christ period. Once there was a banquet in Valhalla. In this banquet, 12 Gods were invited. However, the God of evil arrived uninvited. In the fight with this God, one of the most honored God died which is why the number of 13 is considered to be unlucky and people get terrified on facing this number.

How can someone know if he/she is facing Triskaidekaphobia or fear of 13?

Having superstitions about this numeric digit is a common and worldwide thing. However, there are certain symptoms that can prove if someone is suffering from Triskaidekaphobia or fear of 13.

  • Feeling over-anxious on a sight or even thought of the number 13.

A person having Triskaidekaphobia cannot tolerate any encounter with the number 13 including seeing or thinking about it.

  • Trying to avoid everything that is associated with the number 13.

Be it a birthday, anniversary, exam, or any important occasion, the person with this fear will neglect the existence of these occasions. No matter how important it is, they will not appear to be faced by the encounter of this number.

  • Weird behavior caused by constant fear.

Without any reason, people will start bothering. This constant fear affects human brains which can be seen in their behavior. People with this fear sometimes behave abnormally due to what they experience over this period.

  • Some physical reactions including nervousness, chest pain, and increased heartbeat.

Whenever a person experiences fear, his heartbeat rate goes high. But in the case of Triskaidekaphobia, the person may face severe discomfort during this period. They might start shaking. They might even feel a stinging pain in the chest.

Triskaidekaphobia is now common among people and they can easily identify its characteristics. There are multiple causes that can contribute to the development of this phobia but they are hard to find. Triskaidekaphobia is treatable. To treat it, knowing what caused it is vital. Here are some common causes that can trigger this phobia.

Causes of Triskaidekaphobia

  • There is a specific event that is associated with this phobia. It is also mentioned in the Bible. It is a betrayal of one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. The Bible states that Judas betrayed Jesus which in turn resulted in the death of Jesus Christ. It is believed that the crucifixion of Jesus was done on the 13th day of the month. This event is proved to be one of the major reasons behind Triskaidekaphobia.
  • If a person’s life is dominated by a traumatic event that caused unbearable pain and scary activity on the 13th day of the month, this day will become a horror for them. It can also turn into a temporary or permanent condition of Triskaidekaphobia.
  • There are modern industries that avoid this number as part of superstitions that having this number associated with the business will be unlucky and become subject to a big loss. Seeing big industry focusing on such superstitions make commoners develop excessive fear of the number 13. They think if such modern industries are believing this, it must be the truth.
  • People who are already suffering from other phobias are very sensitive towards this phobia. They tend to develop this phobia easily. The victims of Thanatophobia and Agoraphobia are more likely to develop Triskaidekaphobia in the near future.
  • The mention of the fear of the number 13 in movies, novels, and news makes the situation worse for people with panic disorder. They eventually get caught by Triskaidekaphobia.

How to treat Triskaidekaphobia?

Although Triskaidekaphobia seems nothing to normal people, Triskaidekaphobia is quite a difficult period for the sufferers. However, this condition is treatable, either by medications or by changing the thoughts. Below are several steps that might help the sufferer to overcome Triskaidekaphobia.

  • Dig deeper and discover the reasons behind the fear of the number 13. It is weaved in our culture. There are a number of myths behind this. Try to know all the stories about why people consider the digit 13 as an unlucky number. This may give a potential relief. Knowing the truth and believing that those are only myths will act as a blessing. Understand one thing that many bad things have happened in the past on specific dates. It has a rare possibility of occurring something bad again on the same dates in the present.
  • There are tons of myths and superstitions in the world. We believed what our ancestors said to us and the next generation will believe what we will say to them. There is no end of superstitions. So believing them all is ridiculous. There was a lack of education and awareness in the early era which geared all these superstitions. Today, people are educated. They are capable of understanding what is right and what is wrong. Take the help of technologies to know what is the truth and what is superstition. Understand if the superstition of the number 13 was true, many nations would have noticed it. Number 4 is considered unlucky in China as it is similar to the word “death”. The number 17 is believed to be unlucky in Italy as its opposite means “you are alive”. But the original means that you are dead. In a nutshell, there is no way one can stop superstitions. However, one can stop believing them.
  • Stop looking for myths surrounded by this. It is a common human tendency to keep searching about the incidents associated with what they really fear. But this will only add to the discomfort. The more you see its suffering, the more you get scared.
  • Keep yourself composed on the exposure to the number 13. It is not impossible to control feelings and fears. Whenever you encounter this situation, start thinking that it is just a number. It won’t harm you in any case except you yourself be the reason for the harm. There are several ways that can help to keep calm. Start taking deep breaths. Navigate your mind to something else. Think about the peaceful events and happy moments of your life. Trust yourself enough, be convinced that nothing is greater than the faith.
  • There are many bad events associated with the number 13. There are also some good events associated with this number. Start thinking about those good moments. Think that it is just a coincidence and nothing more than that.
  • If you are going through a serious condition, share it with your closed ones. Sharing and pouring your heart out always helps. It will not just empty the exaggeration out of your body, but it will also help you to get suggestions from your loved ones to overcome the situation. They can be there to help whenever you are passing through such a condition.
  • Do not be irritated by yourself. Be patient. It is okay to feel annoyed sometimes. It is okay to look crazy or act silly. Don’t go harsh on yourself. Take enough time to heal. This kind of phobia is difficult to deal with. Take things easy and stay calm.
  • If things seem going out of control, get help from doctors. Appointment with a good therapist will really work in this situation. They might not be able to eliminate this phobia from your life, but they can certainly give you tips and tricks to cope with the condition of Triskaidekaphobia.
  • If nothing helps, go for medication. Doctors can prescribe you the medicines that decrease anxiety levels and help in controlling such situations.
  • In the worst cases, a counselor can use hypnotism to penetrate the subconscious mind of the sufferer. They can get to the roots of this fear and help in removing from its roots.
  • Apart from medication and hypnotism, some lifestyle changes may help a lot in reducing or eliminating this fear. Do yoga, meditation, and deep breathing practices.
  • The ultimate treatment of Triskaidekaphobia is NPL. It is Neuro-Linguistic Programming, It is an advanced treatment in which new neural pathways are created in the brain. This is done to manipulate the memories that provoke this phobia. When there are no memories of discomfort, no occurrence of the fear can be there.
  • However, treatment with drugs and medicines are less effective or may be temporary. In order to get rid of this fear, practice staying calm and neglecting the bad things that are responsible for this condition.

Risks of Triskaidekaphobia

  • It is seen that children of age below 15 are more likely to develop a fear of the number thirteen. As they are quite innocent and dependent, bad happenings can affect them more than any adult.
  • The people with higher sensitivity levels can be easily caught by this condition.
  • If someone is with the sufferer for a long time and constantly watching the episodes of Triskaidekaphobia, they are also likely to develop the same phobia.
  • Facing traumatic events may also result in this phobia under the same circumstances.

The number 13 is not the problem itself. As stated by some scientists and mathematicians, it is the closeness of the number 13 to the number 12 that makes it look bad. In the old culture, people used to consider the number of 12 to be a perfect number. Our clock shows 12 hours on it. The English calendar has 12 months in a year. There are a total of 12 Zodiac signs. In fact, it is the largest number with at least one syllable. Hence, 13, the immediate number after 12 looks faulty.

The condition of Triskaidekaphobia is difficult but finding ways to treat it is easier. There are plenty of good therapists available. You can take several sittings with them and they can have you face the same situations of fear and fight against it. If you are suffering from this condition, inform your family and friends. They must know how to tackle the situation in case they find you in one.

Events related to Triskaidekaphobia or the fear of 13

  • On April 11, 1970, the Apollo 13 mission was launched at 13:13:00 CST at Kennedy Space Center. It faced an oxygen tank explosion on April 13, 1970, at 21:07:53 CST. However, it reached the earth safely on April 17.
  • On October 13, 1307, Phillip IV of France, ordered to arrest Knight Templar which is known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon. It was a Catholic Military Order founded in 1130 and became quickly a favored charity and grew rapidly. Some rumors about the secret initiation ceremony of the Templars created distrust. Therefore, King Phillip IV of France took advantage of this distrust and ordered to destroy them.
  • Instead of 12 full moons, a year with 13 full moons caused many problems to the monks who were in charge of this calendar. It was considered as an unfortunate circumstance by those monks for that year. It also upset the regular arrangements of church festivals that year.

Similar phobias

  • Tetraphobia: Tetraphobia is the fear of the number 4. In the countries including China, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as in some other countries in East Asia and South East Asia, the number 4 is considered as a bad number. Here, it is common for many buildings including offices, hotels, and apartments to omit their floors with numbers including the numeric 4. Also, Nokia’s mobile phone series does not include any model starting with this digit. This has come from Classical Chinese, where the word four’s pronunciation is quite similar to the word for “death”.
  • Paraskevidekaphobia or Friggatriskaidekaphobia: This is similar to a fear of the number 13 but it is associated with Friday. It is considered a day of bad luck in western cultures. The sufferers of Triskaidekaphobia are more likely to develop Paraskevidekaphobia or Friggatriskaidekaphobia.
  • Heptadekaphobia: It is referred to as the fear of the number 17. In Roman numerical, 17 is written as XVII. The opposite arrangement of this translates into “I have lived” which means, XVII translates to ‘’I have died”. In Italy, due to this many hotels do not have row 17 and many airlines do not have seat number 17 in their planes.
  • Triakontenneaphobia: It is known as the fear of the number 39. In some parts of Afghanistan, this number is considered as cursed or a label of shame.
  • Hexakosiooihekkaidekaphobia: A fear of the number 666, well known and one of the evilest numbers. In the book of Revelation, in the New Testament, it is mentioned that this is the number of the beast.

Everyone has a fear of something, and it is what keeps us safe. But sometimes these fears can go out of their way and that’s when they become a phobia. They usually come from some greatest fears or bad experiences in childhood. No matter how bad they are, it is possible to work on them. It takes quite a long time to out of this condition, but it can improve your life in long terms.

Some interesting things that are associated with this number but didn’t hurt anyone

  • Many popular athletes including Wilt Chamberlain, Alex Rodriguez, and Pavel Datsyuk have experienced great luck on wearing number 13 on their uniforms during their games.
  • In 2017, there were two Fridays on date 13, one in January and another one in October. In 2019, the day comes on 13th September.
  • In a baker’s dozen, there are always 13 baked goods. (One for the tasting purpose)
  • In Italy, 13 is considered a very lucky number because here, to do 13 means hit the jackpot.
  • The Olsen Twins were born on Friday, June 13, 1986.
  • In a card deck, there are four suits of 13, but people still win playing these cards.
  • The United States had 13 original colonies.
  • The flag of the United States has 13 stripes and 13 white stars because of its 13 colonies.
  • The popular singer Taylor Swift was born on December 13. She considers this number as her lucky number. She uses or draws this number on her hand during her stage performances. She turned 13 o Friday 13th. Her first album went gold in 13 weeks.
  • According to Maimonides, there are 13 principles of the Jewish faith.
  • In ancient Greece, Zeus is the 13th God and considered as one of the most powerful Gods.
  • There are 13 steps in the ladder of eternity. It is believed that your soul gains a spiritual connection on reaching the 13th step.
  • The opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games was on August 13, 2004.
  • The Thai New Year falls on 13th April and Thai people consider it as the best time to wash away all the bad omens by splashing water on people.
  • In the Hindu religion, the festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated on the 13th night of the Magha month.
  • In the book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, the word “Waheguru” appears 13 times.
  • All the four seasons have 13 weeks.
  • Despite the oxygen tank explosion, Apollo 13 made it to the earth successfully.
  • In China, the numeric 13 is considered to be very lucky as the word means “assured growth”, or “definitely vibrant” in the Chinese language.
  • In India, the people who worship Lord Shiva on the Pradosh Vrat (falls on the 13th day of the month) are blessed with happiness, children, and prosperity. It is considered one of the most fruitful days for the believers of Lord Shiva.

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Julie Noyal

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