• Dan Workman

Magical Thinking Misunderstood!




Magical Thinking

The most common definition of magical thinking is, “ the belief that an event will occur as a result of another without any cause and effect relationship….that a person's thoughts or actions, including spoken word and the use of symbols, can alter the course of events in the physical realm without a causal link.” A good example of this would be the belief that “if you step on a crack, you break your mother’s back.”

Walk With Me…

In our culture, the term ‘magical thinking’ is mainly negative. Most of us have been exposed to shrill voices in social media claiming that opposing points of view are based on flimsy, illogical ‘magical thinking’. Those arguments are backed up with the counterclaim that there is an objective truth that is obvious to all with the eyes to see. Indeed, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, wrote in 1913 that magical thinking was a childish phase that if not overcome resulted in neurosis.

Magical Thinking Misunderstood!

Magical thinking has gotten a bad rap! The triumphs of science and technology have encouraged dependency on rational deduction. Perhaps our ‘rational superpowers’ put us at risk of glossing over the fact that our most important decisions in life are based on fabricated constructs of ourselves, our world, and our place in it. 


A Reconsideration

A gentle and curious investigation of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can lead to radical positive transformation. Such is the goal of therapy! The therapeutic relationship creates a context where difficulties can be safely identified and worked through. Therapy can lead to insights that bring understanding, comfort, confidence, and closure to issues in our lives that are otherwise too big, scary, and intractable to overcome. The mechanism at work can be considered a form of magical thinking, specifically creating a new narrative.  The power of a mental shift in perspective has been proven to be an extremely important element in leveling up one’s mental health. If this is magical thinking, I want more of it! 


A person’s story of who they are, and how they fit in the world, is a major contributor to quality of life. And that story is not an objective truth. It is founded in beliefs that go beyond objective reality. I consider myself lucky to be able to walk with my clients as they dare to create new ways to live and to find order in their world. Taking control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors while becoming more comfortable, confident, empowered, and excited about leaning into life! 


Considered in this context, how might ‘magical thinking’ help manifest change in your life? I look forward to being a part of that journey


-Dan Workman, LMSW - Learn more about Dan and his work with creativity