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Magic and the MindMechanisms, Functions, and Development of Magical Thinking and Behavior$
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Eugene Subbotsky

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195393873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393873.001.0001

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Magic and Human Communication

Magic and Human Communication

(p.96) 9 Magic and Human Communication
Magic and the Mind

Eugene Subbotsky

Oxford University Press

Chapter 9 (“Magic and Human Communication”) concentrates on theoretical and experimental research on “mind-over-mind” magic. Referring to anthropological data, it argues that in the early historic stages, magical influence on people (for the purpose of healing or bringing harm) was based on suggestion and autosuggestion. With the onset of scientific ideology, overt magical rituals were discarded, yet suggestion remains the most effective mechanism of manipulation in politics, commerce, and psychotherapy. This brings one to the assumption that ordinary suggestion today may be based on the same psychological mechanism, as was magical suggestion in the times before science. Experiments are presented that show that this common mechanism—participation—does indeed exist. This fact has important implications for understanding the psychological-historical continuity of the control over minds. If magical and ordinary types of suggestion are based on the same psychological mechanism—participation—then suggestive persuasion techniques used in political rhetoric and commercial advertising today may be viewed as historically evolving from magical practices. Viewed in this light, suggestion is literally the magic of today.

Keywords:   magical thinking, magical beliefs, human communication, suggestion, participation, persuasion

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