Triscaidecaphobia: Fear of the number 13



Triscaidecaphobia is an irrational and uncontrollable fear of the number 13 that occurs in people who suffer from anxiety, tachycardia or fear of seeing or thinking of the number 13.

It can develop from a popular belief, superstition, or negative experience.

The number 13 is generally believed to bring bad luck. This is a superstition that, of course, has no scientific basis. A number in itself cannot have a negative impact on people’s lives.


However, the myth that the thirteenth number is unfortunate has ancient origins, it seems. As will be seen later, there are different theories on this subject.

One of the best known is “the Last Supper of Jesus”, who on his last night had dinner with his 12 apostles, totaling 13 people at the table. A few hours later, Jesus would be imprisoned and executed, according to the biblical story that all Christians know.


But it is believed that the myth of the number 13 could also have its origins in other cultures, rather than in the Christian one. According to the Norse mythology of the Vikings, a great banquet was held in Valhalla, to which twelve gods were invited.

But Loki, the god of fighting and evil, also entered the meeting, so the number of gifts on the table was thirteen. In the fight to expel Loki from the dinner, Balder died, one of the most precious gods.

It is one of the oldest references to the misfortune brought by figure thirteen. It is likely that this myth spread from Scandinavia to the southern part of Europe and then to Christianity.


Another important event that could have contributed to the bad reputation of the number 13 was the capture and death of the Knights Templar, who were sacrificed at the stake on Friday, October 13, 1307.

It is said that that day, the last great Templar named Jacques de Molay, and to be at the stake summoned before the court of God Pope Clement V and King Philip IV of France, who had ordered the destruction of the Order of the Temple.

In less than a year, they both died, as requested or predicted by the last Grand Templar.


A person with triscaidecaphobia may have, when seeing or thinking about the number 13, the following symptoms:

  • Tachycardia
  • Suspending
  • Afraid
  • Panic disorder


According to data collected by a researcher named Donald Dossey, in France there was a group of noble people called “Quatorziennes”, that is, the “fourteen”, who were people who attended dinners, meetings or other events such as, for example, a fourteenth invited, when for some reason, someone canceled their participation and only thirteen people attended the celebration.

At present, there are many important international companies, such as hotel chains or airlines that are in favor of triscaidecaphobics avoiding the number of thirteen in their rooms or in the rows of seats of their airplanes.

For example, on Iberia planes, the rows of seats go directly from 12 to 14 hours, and the same goes for Alitalia, Copa Airlines and Emirates.

In many hotels, there is no 13th floor, no rooms with this number, and even in some cities, there are no streets or avenues with the number.


There are those who try to avoid the unlucky number always and on any occasion, but if for some reason they cannot avoid it, they tolerate the discomfort.

But as with any other phobia, there are people who can present a significant image of anxiety when faced with the number thirteen, with sweating, increased heart rate or chest pain as in a panic attack.

If you are in the first group, you probably don’t need treatment. Just avoid the number (many hotels, buildings, and transportation companies will help you) and that’s it.

But if you really have a phobia, you’d better seek professional help. Psychological therapies can be very helpful, and medications to control anxiety may also be helpful.

As with all phobias, gradually facing the reason for your phobia is a good way to start overcoming the problem.

Another tool that you can use is to write down what you think about this number and then try to change these irrational and negative thoughts for other, more reasonable and positive ones .

Deep breathing, yoga, or meditation techniques can be helpful in managing anxiety when the “bad luck” number is accidentally touched.

The 13th can also bring good luck.
As in fighting the myth, many professional athletes believe that thirteen can bring good luck.

This is the case with basketball players Steve Nash and Wilt Chamberlain. The former always considered 13 as a lucky number and wore it on his jersey on all the teams he competed for, except the Los Angeles Lakers, where he has 10, because 13 was retired after Chamberlain’s departure. .

In the German soccer team, the star of the team has been number 13 for several decades. This trend started with Gerd Müller in the 1970s and continued with Michael Ballack and Thomas Müller.

If you really have a problem with this topic, follow the advice in this article and you will surely get over it.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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