Friday The 13th - Fear Or Phobia?Editor's Choice
Main Category: Psychology / Psychiatry
Article Date: 12 Apr 2012 - 0:00 PST
Friday The 13th - Fear Or Phobia?
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The only day in the year, on which individuals may suffer from 'paraskevidekatriaphobia', is Friday, the 13th, which installs a morbid, irrational fear in some.
With Friday the 13th looming on the horizon, some people may want to change a schedule or appointment to avoid bad luck, but regardless of whether someone is superstitious or not, it is safe to assume that there will be some people who will avoid black cats and ladders on Friday the 13th, just in case.
The question remains whether paraskevidekatriaphobia is a genuine phobia or a fear.
Dr. Britta Ostermeyer, Chief of Psychiatry at the Ben Taub General Hospital and the Harris County Hospital District, who is also an associate professor of Psychiatry and Family Community Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine explained:
"It's in our nature to do what other people in our environment do. If we see that other people are concerned about certain events, we tend to become concerned as well."
The normal response to genuine danger is fear, whilst a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, whereby the affected person develops a strong, excessive, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger.
"A phobia is a mental disorder that causes enormous anxiety and distress for a person. It essentially interferes with a person's life, disturbing daily functions."
About 7.8% of American adults suffer from phobias, according to estimates by the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education. Whilst phobias are the most common psychiatric illnesses amongst women of all age groups, they are the second most frequent psychiatric illness in men above the age of 25 years. Individuals who suffer from phobias may avoid certain places, objects or circumstances, regardless of the fact that they know logically that there is no danger. Some may even panic at the sheer thought of coming in contact with the source of their phobia, and Ostermeyer recommends that people suffering from phobias, regardless of which one, should seek medical help if it interferes with daily activities, saying:
"Treatment for phobias can involve behavioral therapy, which entails systematic de-sensitization. In therapy, patients will gradually confront their fear, until their anxiety is gone."
For Ostermeyer, 13 is a lucky number, even though some people are anticipating Friday the 13th with dread. She says:
"Whenever 13 came up for me, it has turned out well. If you have a positive outlook, then, indeed, good things might happen."
Every year has at least one Friday the 13th, whilst some years have as many as three. Therefore, regardless of whether this day represents just a simple fear or an actual paraskevidekatriaphobia, there is only one more Friday 13th occurring this year, for those people who dread the day's arrival.
Written by Petra Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
19 May. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244012.php>
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