Can superstition affect our mental health? - The360 Healthy

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  • Thursday, November 28, 2019

    Can superstition affect our mental health?

    Can superstition affect our mental health?

    As irrational as it may seem, superstition rules the lives of millions of people around the world. And for good reason, it allows among others to relieve anxiety, improve performance and boost self-confidence in a few seconds.


    How did you spend the last Friday, September 13, 2019? Cloîtré home to avoid any accident? Or on a chair of the nearest PMU, crossing your fingers to guess the numbers of the lotto? In any case, if you are one of the millions of superstitious people in the world, you were not indifferent to this particular day. Even airports, some buildings, and hotels shy away from the number 13.

    The most fascinating aspect of superstition is the fact of continuing to believe it when we know that these reflexes are irrational. Why are we so attached? And do these superstitions play an important psychological role? Indeed, superstition is not only the fruit of our imperfect cognition. It offers some great benefits for mental health.

    Relieve anxiety

    Ritual gestures of superstition can have a calming effect and relieve anxiety. Faced with the unknown, they give us the impression of being able to control something. According to the experts quoted by Medical News Today, it is for this reason that superstitions have survived so long.

    When our ancestors did not understand the forces of the natural world, and were threatened by predators, they developed a false sense of control to reduce their anxiety through superstition. These gestures, which find a fertile ground in the absence of trust, insecurity, fear and threat, have been transmitted from generation to generation.

    Improve performances

    By reducing anxiety, it has been proven that positive and positive superstition provides a psychological benefit that can improve performance. Lack of control over an important outcome creates anxiety.

    Thus, even when we know at a rational level that there is no magic, acts of superstition can be maintained for their emotional benefit, and their effect on our self-confidence. It's impossible not to think of the world tennis champion, Rafael Nadal, and his need to ritualize every move before starting a game.

    The risks of OCD

    However, repeated behaviors may indicate a more serious mental condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The question of the link between OCD and superstitions has been the subject of much debate. Some researchers suggest that this is not the case because these two reflexes involve different regions of the brain. But OCD and superstition share many similarities. The results of studies to date have diverged, and more work needs to be done to find out more.

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