In 1990, after I came down with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and its usually associated depression, I started seeing a psychotherapist. My "Youie Summer" of 1989 was then still recent and powerful in my psyche, so naturally I told him about it: the marvelous coincidences I had experienced, the wondrous signs I had seen. How taken aback I was when he characterized my experiences as "magical thinking." It had never occurred to me that that was a psychiatric term:
A conviction that thinking equates with doing. Occurs in dreams in children, in primitive peoples, and in patients under a variety of conditions. Characterized by lack of realistic relationship between cause and effect.*Of course, now that I've suggested that much of our thinking about God amounts to magical thinking, I'm wondering if it really is. And I'm wondering in what sense much of the thinking we humans engage in every day as we try to stay afloat might also be "magical thinking" in the psychiatric sense. _____________________ * John F. Abess, M.D., his Glossary of Terms in the field of Psychiatry and Neurology. Note to myself: read The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion.