Magical Thinking Case Study

1469 WordsOct 3, 20176 Pages
Magical thinking: A Crash Course in Cantonese Funerals Carol Nemeroff and Paul Rozin’s definition of magical thinking, and the laws of similarity and contagion are demonstrated in the case study “Funeral Specialists in Cantonese Society: Pollution, Performance, and Social Hierarchy” by James L. Watson . In this essay I will first be exploring Nemeroff and Rozin’s definition of sympathetic magical thinking with respect to both the laws of similarity and contagion. Secondly, I will be using those same definition and laws to demonstrate the validity of their theory in Watson’s case study on Cantonese Funerals. To truly understand Nemeroff and Rozin’s working definition of magic, I first need to demonstrate the differences between theirs and…show more content…
Although there isn’t a clear visual change to the sandwich (i.e. it didn’t turn into a pile of dirt) most people would view the sandwich as having become the same as the floor. The floor’s essence was transmitted to the sandwich, putting the sandwich on the same level of the “cleanliness” scale as the floor it was dropped on. Secondly, the essence of the floor was then ingested by the person eating the sandwich, which in turn, contaminates the person. A common theme in magical contamination involves the ingestion of food, because of the strength of the physical contact that’s happening between the ingested and the consumer . Another key characteristic of magical contamination is that through contamination, it creates similarity, which I will explain next. Magical similarity is, essentially, the opposite of magical contagion. It asserts that “typically, things you see can be taken at face value” as in, what you see is what you get . Similarity requires no physical contact, and in fact often is the exact opposite in requiring the subject of the similarity to be detached from the situation. A very clear example of magical similarity is in Puja in theistic Hinduism where offerings are made to images of Hindu deities. The belief behind this practice is that the image of the deity holds the essence of the
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