Feature: Spooky day

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Yikes! Spooky day creeps back around

By KAREN ANN BLAND

Luckily for the superstitious, there's only one Friday the 13th this year - but it falls this month. That will give pause to any paraskevidekatriaphobics - the psychological term for people who are frightened by superstitions.

Psychotherapists in the United States estimate that about 8 percent of the population - 21 million people - are superstitious. Some people with an extremely bad phobia will even refuse to get out of bed on Friday the 13th.

Superstitions aside, the day is unlucky for many companies because of lost business. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., an estimated $800 million to $900 million is lost in the United States because of people who will not fly or conduct normal business on the dreaded day.

According to the institute, the fear of the number 13 is so strong that 80 percent of skyscrapers don't have a 13th floor. Hotel rooms, steamship cabins, hospital rooms and city house numbers sometimes skip 13 because many people believe it's unlucky. Likewise, some airports omit the 13th gate.