Are you afraid?

By Kasey Minnick
October 27, 2006

If you were asked what day out of the year is most known for the superstitions of black cats, broken mirrors, walking under ladders and stepping on cracks; what would you answer? Friday the 13th is probably the first “spooky” date that pops into your head. But why is this stamped in our brains and what is so superstitious about it?

A whopping 17 to 21 million Americans suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. Paraskevidekatriaphobia? This is the fear of Friday the 13th. Donald E. Dossey, Ph.D, is a behavioral scientist, media personality, author and is an internationally acclaimed authority in the treatment of phobias ( He says that because of this phobia of Friday the 13th, it has been estimated that $750 million will be lost in business because people will not shop, travel or take risks of any kinds on this date. Even more, some will not even get out of bed!

Emily Duncan, a freshman exercise science major said, “This is a hard question, but I DO believe in bad luck. Shit happens! Even though I believe in bad luck, I don’t believe in superstitions like a black cat crossing your path.”

Danielle Buzzanca, also a freshman exercise science major said, “I don’t believe in bad luck. There are just coincidences. I even own a black cat and I still don’t believe in it.”

What is the story with black cats anyway? The belief that black cats affect your luck goes way back. One King of England, Charles I, had a black cat. His deepest fear was losing this cat, so he had it guarded. One day, the cat grew ill and died. The following day, the king was arrested. Another instance deals with sailors and keeping cats on board with them for good luck. If a sailor was approached by another sailor’s cat, it meant good luck. On the other hand, if the cat came halfway and turned around, it brought on bad luck (

Not only are black cats something that people do not want to come in contact with, but ladders cause much anxiety as well. Dr. Dossey reports that over 85% of people will risk their lives rather than walk under a ladder (

Lauren Hudson, a sophomore biology major said, “Uhhh, I don’t think I would walk under a ladder. I’m not the superstitious type, but I would just walk under it and think it would fall on me.”

Back in the medieval times, a leaning ladder was thought to look like a gallows. So, if you strolled under a ladder, you were locking in your own death of hanging. Also, a ladder was placed against the gallows and after the public hanging, the body would be cut down. If someone happened to walk under this ladder, the dead body may fall and hit them. With every superstition though, there are ways to reverse the curse. For example, you can spit through the ladder rungs three times or cross your fingers until you see a dog (

Sarah Codd, a sophomore early childhood education major said, “I’m not a really big believer in bad luck, superstition or anything like that. I think that people make their own luck and its all about how you look at things, whether you have a positive attitude or not. I just don’t think people could be cursed with bad luck or blessed with good luck.”

Everyday phobias do not always have to deal with Friday the 13th. People can have a phobia about anything from walking in puddles, flying in airplanes, death, darkness and clowns.

Maggie Walmsley, a sophomore psychology major said, “Eww, I have a phobia of bugs. They are nasty, crawly and ughh.”

Brittany Fodero, a sophomore business major, laughs about her fear. “I hate clowns! I know it’s embarrassing, but I can’t even go to scary houses because I know they will jump out from somewhere. I remember one of them screaming in my face and I know I will not do that again!”

Dr. Dossey always offers words of encouragement though. “When you learn to pronounce paraskevidekatriaphobia, you are cured.”

If you suffer from this phobia, because of his remark, you may not be cured for a while.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Kasey Minnick

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap