Magical thinking is an illogical thought pattern characterized by the linking of unrelated actions or events. Individuals may become preoccupied with lucky or unlucky numbers, colors, words, actions, sayings or superstitions and link them to catastrophe or ‘bad things’ that might happen. The individual with ‘magical thinking’ OCD truly believes and lives by these rules and consequences, often with the belief that the mere act of thinking results in the occurrence of a feared event.

Magical Behaviors

“Very Superstitious” by Fred Penzel, Ph.D.

  • Reciting or thinking of certain words, names, sounds, images, phrases, or numbers
  • Moving one’s body or gesturing in a special way
  • Stepping in special ways or on special spots when walking
  • Arranging objects or possessions in a special order
  • Performing physical actions in reverse
  • Thinking thoughts in reverse
  • Performing behaviors at special times or on particular dates
  • Repeating one’s own words, or the words of others
  • Touching certain things in a special way or a particular number of times

Videos: Magical Thinking

Choose a title below to view related OCD videos

Eric A. Storch, PhD explains that magical thinking is a particular thought process that OCD sufferers believe their actions could affect some outcomes.

Eric A. Storch, PhD explains the differences between OCD superstition and being superstitious. One of the biggest difference is when the superstitious​ behaviors get in the way of the things the person wants to do or accomplish.