Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Magical Thinking

Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back…Magical thinking is defined by nonscientific causal reasoning including ideas such as the ability of the mind to affect the physical world.  Although it can manifest in a variety of ways, the primary commonality of magical thinking is the belief of the person that his or her thoughts have some sort of influence on other outside occurrences – “if I think it, it will rain” to “if I don’t fall asleep, I won’t get attacked by monsters.”  Of course, there’s a spectrum of causes and reasons for magical thinking, from a child’s bedtime rituals to the belief in spiritual transfer from religious relics to full-on psychosis.

And yet there’s something to be said for the belief in fate, in karma, in soul mates.  In trusting your gut.  Most of us are taught that logic and reason should prevail; but for many of us who have tried relying on reason and failed time and time again, there’s relief in knowing that there’s another option.

I’ve lived with anxiety for years.  It started sometime in my 21st year; I’d wake up each morning at 7:30 with a start, previously having been a late sleeper.  It’s no coincidence: it’s the first year I lived far from home, and the first time I’d moved somewhere without knowing a single soul.  I was lonely, I was depressed, and sociable person that I am, rather than stay home and feel sorry for myself, I lived out loud but let the anxiety creep up inside me quietly instead.  Although I’ve moved far past that episode of my life, a hint of anxiety lingers, threatening to tear my insides whenever there’s something small to panic about: a late credit card payment, a missed phone call, a fight with a friend.

But the worst anxiety always comes when I am forced to reason, unable for whatever reason to rely on my instinct.  In the magical knowledge that something is, or isn’t, right.

4 Comments

  1. mentioning waking up with a start brings back so much bad memories..

    as for magical thinking, I see you have a book on true stories about it (I checked your goodreads, stalkers FTW! ;) ).

    glad to know you’ve moved on beyond that anxiety.

  2. i struggle often w anxiety also and often dont even realize when im tensed up tighter than a knot, but often realizing that things that get one anxious dont mean so much in the larger context makes it a bit easier.

  3. Oh, goodness, Jillian. I have so much catching up to do. I didn’t even realize you’d been in Syria. :( I’m sorry you’re dealing with anxiety. I know a bit about that too. It is so difficult to go against a gut reaction, I agree…and just because logic points us in a different direction, it still doesn’t mean our intuition is wrong. I can see where you are struggling…I don’t know what the issue is but maybe look more closely at your intuition maybe there’s something you’ve over-looked that might help make the reason and intuition more compatible? (does that make any sense at all? I hope so!) All the best.

  4. It is ingrained :) Here is an article just appropriate for your thoughts:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/opinion/07Brooks.html?em

    Hey, what a coincidence – you are also an admirer of Bint Battuta :) The world is small, first twitter and then this :)

    (eleiva from twitter)

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