It’s a mouthful for sure, this fear of Friday the 13th. And it can be serious business, at least for those so affected by it that it disrupts their lives, or for those who provide the treatments for this phobia, whether that is serious psychological counseling or more lighthearted programs designed to help people reason their way past it.

Yet, the fear itself is a strangely manufactured one. Apparently, there are few if any references to “unlucky” Friday the 13th before the late nineteenth century, and it didn’t really become popularized (at least in written records) until the 20th century. The source of the day’s “unluckiness” has several theories, which you can check out at *Wikipedia* or *Live Science*. My favorite note from *Wikipedia: * in 1907, Thomas Lawson published a novel, *Friday the Thirteenth* (available for free download at Project Gutenberg), about a broker who takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic. This does not explain the origin of the superstition (it already existed to be taken advantage of in the novel), but might explain why it has become so popular in the last century.

Popularity aside, I just don’t get this phobia.

Karl Albrecht, writing in* Psychology Today**,* identifies just five basic fears that we share, and all else springs from these:

Extinction – fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist.

Mutilation – fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. For example, anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.

Loss of Autonomy – fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or controlled by circumstances.

Separation – fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness – of becoming a non-person – not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else.

Ego-death – fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.

That’s all – just those five.

So my question is: where does a superstitious phobia like friggatriskaidekaphobia fit in? Or even of the number 13, without the Friday part (triskaidekaphobia)? How is a date on the calendar going to kill or mutilate you? How is one floor of a hotel any different from another, to the point that it will kill or mutilate you? It’s not.

I can understand a phobia of, say, open spaces or enclosed spaces or bugs or fire. Those are physical things. In an open space, you might feel unprotected; in a closed space, you might feel trapped; bugs might be poisonous, and fire is a bona fide destructive force. But numbers and weekdays are constructs of the human mind, not physical things that can threaten you. If we used any number base other than 10, 13 would not be 13 (how does one get “13” in binary?). And the world over, the weekdays have different names, and even the social rhythm of the week differs.

When you think about the theories on why 13 is “unlucky,” they are a bit of a reach, even convoluted. It’s like people are thinking awfully hard and going to a lot of trouble to make it scary. This is why I don’t understand friggatriskaidekaphobia, and why I refer to it as a “manufactured” phobia.

Do you know anyone who has a serious case of friggatriskaidekaphobia? Does Friday the Thirteenth give you pause?

*Interests, Other, The Color of Lila*

DanS

September 13, 2013

Thirteen in binary is 1101. For the basis of making it seem straight-forward, I’ll put it like this: When counting base-2 math, you start in the right column and as you move left, each column is double the worth of the one before it. So in the case of 13, so that we can understand the base-10 equivalent that we’re used to, the 1101 is actually saying 1(8)+1(4)+0(2)+1(1). One times eight is eight, plus one times four is four, plus zero times two is zero, plus one times one is one. So what you’re left with is 8+4+0+1=13. *Gawd* I am such a boring nerd.

The Color of Lila

September 13, 2013

Dan, thanks – I am much too lazy to figure these things out… But now I know about unlucky 1101, ha!

Anonymous

September 13, 2013

I get the doubling part going from right to left (1*2 is 2, 2*2 is 4, and 4*2 is 8). But why does the 2 get the 0, and the 4 and the 8 get the 1? I’m assuming 1 is always 1 in binary and decimal, right?

DanS

September 13, 2013

Yeah – it’s always going to be more complicated, especially when you start dealing with exponents, etc, but for basic integers, my definition covers it. And you’re right – in that first space on the right, if the number was 1, it would just be a 1 in that spot and if the number was a zero, it would be a zero there, but for the purposes of my definition, it’s still the “one spot” whether there’s an actual one or zero there. And of course, the spot left of that is double the amount of 1, so it’s the “two spot”. So 2 expressed in binary code is 10. Sort of like how in decimal, 10 is the first time you have to add another column and repeat one of the numbers that exist within the 0-9 ten-base. Yeah, I know.

The reason that the “two spot” doesn’t get used in the case of 13 is that even though the numbers get bigger from right to left, you still count them from left to right. Again, I’m simplifying it a bit to make it digestible, but even reading that back, I think “Whaaaaa?” But what’s happening here is that we count the eight spot, then the four spot, and how we’re already sitting on 12 (in terms of decimal counting) and if we count the two spot, we’re now at 14. So we leave that as zero and add the one from the one spot and we get 13.

So, in binary, 1111 = 15 in decimal; 8+4+2+1. Now 1110 = 14 in decimal; 8+4+2+0. And 1100 = 12 in decimal; 8+4+0+0.

And if we’re talking about alternative forms of the number 13 that people should be afraid of but aren’t, I’d like to add “D” to this list – that’s 13 in hexadecimal.

The Color of Lila

September 13, 2013

The shin-bone’s connected to the: knee-bone!, the knee-bone’s connected to the: thigh- bone!, the thigh-bone’s connected to… oh… sorry. I was having flashbacks to math class… I think we all see now why I never quite mastered algebra…

Wyrd Smythe

September 14, 2013

Another way to parse this: Firstly, in base 2, you’re dealing with factors of 2 (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.) just like in base 10 you’re dealing with factors of 10 (1, 10, 100, 1000, etc.). Each step to the left multiplies by the base (2, 10, whatever).

So start with 13 and ask, what’s the

largestfactor of 2 that fits in 13? Obviously, 16 is too big. The next one down is 8. So mark a “1” for using “8” and subtract 8 from 13 (giving 5).Now, does the next largest factor fit in 5? That would be 4, and yes it does, so mark another “1” (now we have “11”) and subtract 4 from 5 (giving 1).

The next factor would be 2, but 2 is bigger than 1, so we can’t use it.

This is why we mark a “0” for the 2-slot!Now we’ve marked “110”.Now we’re down to the last factor, 1, and 1 does fit in 1 (leaving zero, so we’re done), and we mark one last “1” for using the 1-slot. The result is “1101”.

So the answer to your question is that we used a “0” in the 2-slot because we were unable to subtract 2 from the remaining value at that point.

Anonymous

September 15, 2013

Thanks, Dan! This explanation makes a lot of sense!! ^_^

The Color of Lila

September 15, 2013

Okay, now for base 6!

Wyrd Smythe

September 16, 2013

Nevergive a pedant an opening unless youreallywant to know!In base 6, the factors are 1, 6, 36, 216, etc. So we start with 13 and ask, what’s the largest factor we can subtract? That would be 6, so we can do 13-6, leaving us 7, and since that’s still bigger than 6, we do 7-6, leaving us 1. And since we subtracted 6 twice, we mark down “2”.

Now we look at the next factor (1) and subtracting that just once from our remainder (1) leaves us zero, so we’re done. And we used just one “1”, so we mark down a “1”.

13 in base 6 is:

21This works for any base, although in bases above 10 you must invent new “digits.” Generally (up to base 36) we use “A” through “Z”. (Hence, the Hexadecimal digits are 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E & F.)

The basic formula for calculating the factor for any digit position is:

B ^ pWhere “B” is the base and “p” is the digit position counting from the

rightand starting at zero. The “^” means “to the power of” and remember that any number to the power of 0 is (by definition) 1, and any number to the power of 1 is that number.Given all that, you should be able to see why 13 in

base13 is:10Rho

September 13, 2013

Yom Kippur starts tonight at sundown. Should I be scared? LOL

The Color of Lila

September 13, 2013

Rho, may you have a refreshingly reflective Yom Kippur.

Anonymous

September 13, 2013

Aside from being a “fabricated fear” as you call it, I also don’t understand fear of Friday the 13. Where I come from, the unlucky day is Tuesday the 13, not Friday. I didn’t know about Friday the 13 until we moved to the US. In Canada, the unlucky day is also F13. Maybe because it was copied/imported from the US?

The Color of Lila

September 13, 2013

Anon, why Tuesday, I wonder?

Anonymous

September 14, 2013

Thanks for your explanation, Dan. I gather hexadecimal numeration follow its own rules as well. In the case of binary, what you’re doing is turning positions on and off, am I right? With 0 being off and 1 being on? And as you need to increase positions (like going from 9 to 10, like you said), you’d turn that new position on so it becomes a 1? So, 0=0, 1=1, 2=10, 3=11, 4=110 (because you already used up the first two positions so now you need to “turn on” the third position), 5=101, etc.

Am I on the right track here?

Btw, thank you for patience in taking the time to explain all this.

(And no, it’s not for homework. I’m way past the age of getting homework assigned. I’m just really curious to understand how this works ^_^ Don’t ask me why…I just like numbers, I guess…)

Anonymous

September 14, 2013

Oops…posted to the wrong place…

Anonymous

September 14, 2013

I’ve no idea why Tuesday, Lila. I just remember kids at school saying it was bad luck. Then in the US, kids at school said it was Friday the 13, with the same vehemence that kids at my first school said it was Tuesday the 13.

🙂

globalfreeopinionator

September 13, 2013

People have an ability to generate fear of almost anything whether it makes sense to others or not. As for Friday the 13th as unlucky, it may be seen as threatening, like extinction or mutilation, but the connection between the two would be artificially manufactured. Frankly, Friday the 13th has always been a good day for me. Kind of diminished my belief in that sort of thing.

Mimi

September 13, 2013

And today has been one of the best days for me in a long while. It’s like the stars aligned themselves and decided ‘Mimi needs a great day!’ Happy Friggatriskaphobia Everyone!

The Color of Lila

September 13, 2013

Mimi and Opinionator, happy good day today! Glad you are enjoying your Friday the 13th.

Chris Glass

September 13, 2013

Calendars originally came into being to keep track of the days of the seasons as well as significant events for civilizations. Numbering varied at the time. Friday the 13th can be likened to Y2K, nothing more than a passing event. It will not cause luck to change any more than having a black cat cross our paths.

The Color of Lila

September 13, 2013

Chris, early in my assignment to Panama, my car had not yet arrived and I was riding to work with a fellow LT when a black jaguar ran across the road in front of us. “That is SO COOL!” I said. “Aw, man, I’ve been here two years and never seen anything like that. You’re here two weeks and there it is,” he said.

I had a great day. He had a terrible one. As we were riding home, I said, “You know why you had such a bad day, right?” “Why?” “A black cat crossed your path this morning, and it was a BIG one!”

Wyrd Smythe

September 14, 2013

I’ve never really understood

debilitatingphobias, although we all have things that get under our skin. I’m not real big on needles, for example, but I can get past it when necessary.And when the phobia amounts to a superstition? Totally over my head!

The Color of Lila

September 14, 2013

Wyrd, it is magical thinking. I see it as primitive and/or childish. Certainly uneducated.

Errrmmm… [ahem] I have the same issue with certain aspects of religion in general.

megacolby

September 16, 2013

Reblogged this on Technicolby.