This issue of the Real Estate News is dated September 13. That’s Friday the 13th, a date that makes many people uneasy. Since this is also the 13th year of the century, today’s date is probably overwhelming for those who suffer from triskaidekaphobia — fear of the No. 13.
Triskaidekaphobia, was termed a “superstition” last week by a fellow-columnist. But such irrational terror is known as a “phobia” not a superstition, and, strangely enough, fear of the No. 13 is not the only phobia we have. There seems to be a phobia for just about anything you can name — fear of bees, cats, frogs, spiders, mice, comets, darkness, blood, even a new one: fear of computers.
The word phobia is derived from the name of the Greek god, Phobos, a name which actually means, “fear.” Phobos’s parents were Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty), and Ares (god of war) whose love produced several other deities: Eros (god of love), Anteros (god of reciprocal love), and, finally, Deimos and Phobos (twins who were gods of terror and fear).
Alexander the Great is said to have offered sacrifices to Phobos to ensure his foes were suitably afraid, And in astronomy, Phobos is the inner satellite of Mars, discovered in 1877 by U.S. astronomer, Asaph Hall.
With this history, it probably should not surprise us to learn that persistent, illogical fear is known as a phobia. Phobias are considered a type of neurosis characterized by exaggerated anxiety. They should not be laughed at or downplayed. In fact, exposure to the object of phobic fear can trigger a panic attack in those who suffer phobias. In past centuries, phobias were viewed as symptoms of hysteria.
Most people are aware of such well-known phobias as claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), and arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
Here are a few less well-known phobias — acrophobia (fear of heights), logizomechanicophobia (fear of computers), cometaphobia (fear of comets), monophobia (fear of being alone), bogyphobia (fear of demons and goblins), gamophobia (fear of marriage), chronophobia (fear of time), apiophobia (fear of bees), aellurophobia (fear of cats), batarachophobia (fear of toads and frogs), hematophobia (fear of blood), and scriptophobia (fear of writing).
The noun phobia has been used in English since 1801. The suffix phobe indicates not the fear itself, but the person who suffers from it. Thus, a “xenophobe” is one who is afraid of strangers or foreigners. Such a person suffers from “xenophobia.”
So, what precautions are triskaidekaphobes likely to take today to make sure the No. 13 doesn’t do them in? I imagine they’ll stay indoors, ignore the phone and doorbell, and not do anything that could prove dangerous, like showering or cooking or using tools.
Still, there’s no way to avoid Friday the 13th no matter how much if terrifies you. It must be easier to be a taurophobe (one who is afraid of bulls) than a triskaidekaphobe. After all, it’s not every day one encounters a bull on the streets of Winnipeg.