November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009
“It’s called paraskevidekatriaphobia: a morbid or irrational fear of Friday the 13th. It's believed that as many as 25 million Americans will change their behavior today because of superstition: They’ll stay away from shopping malls and won't set foot on airplanes. The cost of all this fear comes close to $800 million per day in lost business, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina.”

The word is derived from three Greek words: paraskevi meaning Friday, dekatrels meaning thirteen and phobia, which means fear. From a mental health perspective, a phobia is an intense irrational fear of objects, events or situations.

Friday the 13th appears to be safer than any other typical Friday according to Dutch researchers with the Center for Insurance Statistics as results show that traffic accidents, fires and thefts seem to be fewer on these superstitious days.

A “Finnish study in 2002 found that women have a 63 percent greater risk of dying in traffic accidents on that date.” It seems the reasoning behind this statistic is that a fear that something bad will happen actually increases the likelihood that a person will crash. The British Medical Journal studied traffic accidents on Friday the 6th versus Friday the 13th and concluded that “The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended.”

University of California Professor David Phillips has found no significant increase in deaths on Friday the 13th when analyzing death certificates. He did, however, notice an increase of deaths among Americans of Japanese and Chinese ancestry on the 4th of every month. The number 4 is considered an unlucky number among the Chinese and Japanese as this number sounds almost exactly like the word death in Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese. “Across the United States, he found 13 percent more Asian American cardiac-related deaths on the fourth than expected. In California, where these populations are concentrated, he discovered 27 percent more deaths“.

If anything people should fear those who are superstitious instead of the superstition itself. Results seem to suggest that it might be best to avoid people with paraskevidekatriaphobia as their fear may be the very cause of their own misfortunes.

Should you be afraid of Friday the 13th?

Friday the 13th

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I have an educational background is in Psychology and Sociology. In addition, I have worked with many diverse individuals of all ages, with varying degrees of mental and/or physical illness. I enjoy following current news and research that impacts my area of expertise.

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