Friday The 13th Superstitions

April 13, 2012 by staff 

Friday The 13th Superstitions, Fear of Friday the 13th may be superstitious to some, but to others, it can be taken to an extreme where it devolves into a debilitating disorder, according to social phobia experts. There even is a clinical term for the phobia: “friggatriskaidekaphobia.”

Queen’s University psychology professor Kate Harkness says extreme fear of Friday the 13th can severely affect work, travel and relationships where people avoid leaving the house on that day.

“There’s nothing wrong with believing that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, as long as it’s not interfering (with your life),” she said.

The “Friday the 13th” horror movie franchise continues this negative association with the day.

In extreme cases, severe “delusions” about the day or other related superstitions may escalate to become an obsessive compulsive disorder or schizophrenia, Harkness said, and may require treatment through anti-psychotic medication.

But for the most part, the day is pretty harmless, referred to in pop culture as a time associated with bad luck and nothing more, she said.

According to Harkness, pathological types of superstitious behaviour have been associated with higher levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Medication may reduce these dopamine levels, she explained.

Harkness noted that believing in superstitions doesn’t necessarily mean you are suffering from an extreme phobia. For instance, athletes often carry good luck charms, believing they may help them win games. In these instances, superstitions can be used for good to help motivate people.

On the origins of the Friday the 13th superstition, Harkness referred to the medieval classic “The Canterbury Tales” which associated misfortune with occurring on a Friday.

There are other references for tragic events occurring on a Friday, such as the market crash of the Great Depression, ominously known as “Black Friday.” In the Christian tradition, Jesus’s crucifixion was also on a Friday, Harkness said.

In western culture, the number 12 is seen as a number of “completeness,” she added, referring to 12 months of the year and the 12 apostles, with an extra addition seen as breaking that notion of “perfection.” Harkness said negative beliefs about Friday the 13th may have started with people’s lack of scientific knowledge about the natural world where people “developed the ritual of superstition.”

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