Fear of Friday the 13th

More than 20 million people afraid of the so-called 'unlucky' day

Published On: Sep 13 2013 04:49:41 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 13 2013 04:00:00 PM EDT

Experts say more than 20 million people are afraid of Friday the 13th, a so-called "unlucky" day.  Dr. Scott Bea, a clinical psychologist at Cleveland Clinic says there are a lot of reasons why people fear it, but it starts with superstition.

"So, people who are anxious or fearful of Friday the 13th are just not going to tempt fate," explained Bea. "They'd rather avoid than risk it, and here's the other thing that happens, if something bad does happen on Friday the 13th it quickly gets assigned that it happened on Friday the 13th."

Bea says superstitions begin when two events that are unrelated get connected somehow and then endorsed by other people.

The "unluckiness" of the number 13 goes way back, even to the last supper where Judas was the thirteenth and last guest invited.  Friday was "hanging" day in the 17th century, so that may be where the connection is made.

In any case, people will avoid flying on Friday the 13th, not many homes are bought on this day  and you won't find too many "friday the 13th" wedding anniversaries.

But Bea says you should not let your fear get the best of you.  A good way to overcome it is to face it head-on.

"Write the number 13 on a piece of paper stick it in your pocket and walk around all day with it," advised Bea. "That would actually endorse your fearlessness in the face of that fear rather than trying to play it safe."

On the flip side, if you consider Friday the 13th, or the number 13 lucky, you're probably more of a risk-taker or thrill-seeker.  You'll also tend to trust in yourself rather than the superstition.