What is Octophobia? Insights into the Fear of the Number Eight

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Symptoms of Octophobia

The symptoms of octophobia can occur when a person sees or hears anything relating to either the number eight or the figure eight. These symptoms can include:

  • panic
  • an increase in heart rate
  • perspiration
  • shortness of breath
  • anxiety
  • feelings of dread
  • feelings of being out of control
  • nausea
  • shaking
  • dry mouth
  • the inability to talk or think clearly
  • a sense of things not being real

As everyone experiences a phobia differently, the presentation of symptoms will be different for each individual. Symptoms can occur on their own or several simultaneously. Depending on the level of the person’s phobia these symptoms can range from mild to severe. Those who suffer severe symptoms are more likely to experience a full-blown panic attack when confronted with the number or figure eight.

Causes of Octophobia

After experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event associated with the number eight, such as a car accident occurring on the 8th, a person attaches negative feelings to the number or figure - this is known as displacing. This means that instead of dealing with a situation consciously, a person unconsciously displaces the negative feeling associated with a traumatic event onto something else. In the case of octophobia, a person has taken the negative feelings from a traumatic event and displaced them onto the figure or number eight.

A phobia such as octophobia can also stem from parental modelling. This means that a child has grown up around a parent who suffers with octophobia. Most children model after a parent, looking to them for cues on how to behave in the world. A child of an octophobic parent may learn that being fearful of the number or figure eight is a normal way to behave. Although octophobia can sometimes stem from known sources, it can also arise from something seemingly innocuous, such as a television show or movie. This means that for many people there may seem like there is no explanation for the fear, as they do not realise that a television show or movie that feature the figure eight caused them enough distress to develop a phobia.

Other causes of octophobia can relate to superstitions or irrational thinking. For some people, the figure eight represents infinite. As a person begins to think about this, irrational thoughts can develop - to them eight represents a never ending loop from which they are unable to escape. Although some cultures view eight as a very lucky number, there are those who think differently. For some, the number eight is thought to be less than perfect. This is because it comes after the number seven, which is considered by those who believe to be God’s perfection.

The causes of octophobia vary from person to person. As with most other phobias there is no one standard cause. However the underlying theme in any phobia is an irrational or excessive fear of an object or situation. Although this fear may seem bizarre, for many people it is very real.


‘When fear takes over’, New Zealand Herald, Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, EBSCO_host_, viewed 13 May 2011.

Fear of Stuff - https://www.fearofstuff.com/numbers/fear-of-the-figure-8/