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Behav Cogn Psychother. 2011 Jul;39(4):399-411. doi: 10.1017/S1352465810000883. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

Magical thinking in obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

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Psychology Department, Brynmair Clinic, Llanelli, Hywel Dda Health Board, Wales.



Magical thinking (MT), which has historically been associated with psychotic disorders, has more recently been found to be a central cognitive construct in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that is associated with a poor prognosis (Einstein and Menzies, 2008). Although MT has been found to distinguish OCD from Panic Disorder (PD) (Einstein and Menzies, 2006), little is known about its role in other anxiety disorders.


This study aimed to compare whether elevated levels of magical thinking could distinguish individuals with OCD from non-anxious controls and individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).


The Magical Ideation Scale (MIS, Eckblad and Chapman, 1983) was used to compare levels of magical thinking in groups of individuals with OCD (n = 40), GAD (n = 15), and a normal control group (n = 19).


As expected, the mean MIS score of the OCD group was significantly higher than that of the non-clinical group. Interestingly, there was no significant difference between the mean MIS scores of the OCD and GAD group. However, the results of correlational analyses suggest that it may have differing roles in these disorders.


Although elevated MT is evident in individuals with OCD, it may not be specific to OCD and may also be prominent in GAD. Further research is recommended to elucidate the exact role of this construct in these disorders.

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