From fear of commitment to another fear altogether, for those of you who hadn't noticed, today is Friday the 13th. For individuals who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th) this day, which comes around at least once a year and as many as three, is feared so much that they will re-schedule appointments, dodge ladders and black cats, or indeed avoid anything they think might bring them bad luck. But is Friday the 13th a phobia?
A phobia is a form of anxiety disorder which causes distress for an individual and disrupts their everyday life as they go to great lengths to avoid certain situations and objects. Phobias are defined as 'a strong, excessive, irrational fear of something that actually poses little or no danger'. Approximately 2.5 million people in the UK suffer from phobias and women are twice as likely as men to suffer from panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and specific phobia, though men and women suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia in equal measure.
Treatment for phobias involves behavioural techniques in which the client is exposed to their fear on a sliding scale until they are no longer frightened to confront their original phobia. For instance, if you were scared of injections the first step may be to see photos of needles, handle a needle and then watch videos of injections before you were eventually able to have an injection yourself.
Some argue Friday the 13th is the result of our tendency to copy other people. If, for instance, we see other people are concerned about something then we are likely to be concerned as well. By being aware of this tendency, staying positive and seeking out situations that disconfirm our fear then perhaps we will come to learn that something bad will NOT happen on Friday the 13th.
First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848, www.aberdeenpsychology.co.uk