Chapter

Beyond Childhood

Eugene Subbotsky

in Magic and the Mind

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195393873
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199776979 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393873.003.0005
Beyond Childhood

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Chapter 5 (“Beyond Childhood”) presents anthropological and psychological research on magical thinking in adults. It argues not only that magical thinking does not disappear in adults, but also that it, in fact, develops and diversifies. On one hand, magical thinking thrives in the domain of subconsciously based mechanisms, such as disgust or fear of contagion (Paul Rozin, Carol Nemeroff). The effects of thought–action fusion (TAF) and obsessive-compulsive thinking are also based on sympathetic magic. In clinical research, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that schizophrenic patients tend to engage in magically based compulsive thinking to a considerably larger extent than both the general population and nonschizophrenic psychiatric patients. Altogether, these studies present magical thinking as scattered on a scale from helpful protective reactions (for example, disgust or fear of contagion) to the reactions of a troubled mind, as in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The chapter then presents experiments demonstrating that, under certain circumstances, modern educated adults could indeed display magical beliefs, and not only at the level of subconscious reactions, but also at the level of full consciousness and critical capacity.

Keywords: magical thinking; adults' magical beliefs; clinical research; compulsive behavior; judgments and behavior

Chapter.  3839 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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