Stephen King Has Triskaidekaphobia
Stephen King, the master of horror and architect of nightmares for generations, has a very specific phobia.
The Shining, It, Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot, Carrie, Misery; King’s masterworks go on, and on, and on. The author has a knack for what makes us jump, for digging in deep and lingering long after book closes or the credits roll.
His work often plays into the terror of people, the horrific depths they can turn to at the hands of something evil, desperation or insanity. However, King’s own fear hasn’t really transferred to the page – then again, it’s not particularly common.
King suffers from triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number 13. It is considered an unlucky number, with many buildings and hotels often skipping a 13th floor or room number. However, the phobia is one step further, having to endure extreme superstition regarding the number 13.
‘The number 13 never fails to trace that old icy finger up and down my spine. When I’m writing, I’ll never stop work if the page number is 13 or a multiple of 13; I’ll just keep on typing till I get to a safe number,’ he earlier said.
‘I always take the last two steps on my back stairs as one, making 13 into 12. There were after all 13 steps on the English gallows up until 1900 or so. When I’m reading, I won’t stop on page 94, 193, or 382, since the sums of these numbers add up to 13,’ King added.
In a piece for The New York Times, King acknowledged the scepticism over the phobia and how bizarre it sounds. ‘We still sit in our airline seats in a cold sweat after realising what the sum total of the digits in Flight 508 add up to; we still feel uneasy about watching Channel 13… irrational is irrational; so much we will admit. But we also insist that safe is safe.’
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