Magical Thinking and Schizoaffective Disorder

May 25, 2023 Elizabeth Caudy

Yesterday, I noticed an eyelash on my finger. I asked my husband Tom if wishing on eyelashes amounted to magical thinking, even though I already knew it did. I just wiped the eyelash away instead of wishing on it. I am trying to stop most forms of magical thinking.

Why I Want to Give Up Magical Thinking

For most people, wishing on eyelashes or rainbows is harmless. But I take it to an extreme place. I was doing this before I developed schizoaffective disorder. I blow on the eyelash and get frustrated if it doesn’t fall away. I think I won’t get my wish with this blunder. So, I blow harder and get even more frustrated, even though the wish is usually something I don’t care about that much anyway.

But one of the biggest forms of magical thinking that I want to shed works something like this: I’m looking for a pen by my bed. If I can find the pen, it means that I will have a good day. If I can’t find the pen, it means that I will have a bad day. I’ve been thinking this way for decades. When I was in eighth grade in 1992, I asked one of my friends if she did that, too. She said she used to, but then she realized it was “psychotic.” (Since I was only 13 years old, and it was the early ‘90s, I didn’t know that using the word “psychotic” in that context was stigmatizing.)

As it turned out, I am psychotic, even though my medications keep my psychotic symptoms at bay. This leads us to the next form of magical thinking I need to cut out: thinking that, in some way, I caused my schizoaffective disorder or that it is a punishment of some kind. In other words, I think that I did something to deserve my illness. This thought is untrue, and it is cruel to be thinking this to myself. It takes up a lot of my brain space, and I need to let it go. I’m doing my best.

How Toxic Positivity Is a Form of Magical Thinking

I also feel that toxic positivity is a form of magical thinking. While I believe in the power of positive thinking (even if I don’t do much positive thinking myself), toxic positivity is another way of making people feel we have control over certain things in our lives when we simply don’t. For example, the notion that we can “choose joy.” I find this problematic because it makes many of us feel that if we are sad, it’s our fault because we obviously haven’t “chosen joy.” What about someone like me with a mental illness that creates extreme depression? And even if I don’t have depression, everyone gets blue sometimes. The idea that you can “choose joy” is simply unrealistic. This is a way that magical thinking is hurtful.

I get why people want to buy into magical thinking. I really do. But the fact is, we don’t get what we want from blowing on an eyelash. We get it through hard work, and even then, it might not happen. We don’t have much control over our lives, which bothers people. That said, I acknowledge blowing on an eyelash isn’t problematic for most people. But it is for me.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2023, May 25). Magical Thinking and Schizoaffective Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

Leave a reply