Magical thinking in obsessive compulsive disorder
This study investigated the role of magical thinking in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Magical thinking was defined as the belief that having a thought may actually cause or increase the likelihood of an event happening to self or others. Cognitive and psychoanalytic models of OCD (Salkovskis, 1985; McFall and Wollersheim, 1979; Freud, 1909) have hypothesised that magical thinking or a sense of inflated personal influence may play a significant part in the phenomenology of OCD. Other authors such as Tallis (1995) have suggested how a sense of inflated personal influence might lead to the perception of excessive responsibility and guilt which also feature significantly in cognitive theories of OCD. Previous research findings from studies on the phenomenology of obsessions (Kulhara and Prasad Rao, 1985) and from the cognitive literature (Shaffan, Thordarson and Rachman, 1996) have suggested that this belief may play an important role in OCD. A questionnaire tapping magical thinking was developed for use in this study adapting methods used in a previous study to assess magical thinking in children (Viken and Clausen, 1988). The questionnaire consisted of 32 items looking at various aspects of magical thinking. A pilot study was carried out to evaluate the feasibility of this questionnaire. In the main study an adapted version of this questionnaire with 16 items was used to assess magical thinking in a group of adults with a diagnosis of OCD and a control group of normal adults. There were 20 subjects in each group. The main hypothesis was that magical thinking would be higher in the obsessional sample than the control group. The results are presented and discussed in relation to previous research findings.