Are superstitions good or bad for your health?
My friend gave me an evil eye bracelet yesterday. In many cultures, primarily in the Middle East, it is believed that when someone gives you the "evil eye" or an envious stare, this could cause bad luck, disease or even death. The charm or bead, usually a deep blue in color and resembles an eye, is supposed to bend the evil gaze back to the person who is giving it. It is supposed to keep you safe from harm. And, to tell you the truth, wearing it today makes me feel kind of invincible.
And this made me think -- do superstitions hurt or help you? For me, I personally am a fan of the good luck superstitions, such as finding a penny heads up, wishing on a shooting star or making a silent wish at 11:11 p.m. The bad superstitions are the ones I don't listen to. After all, I was born on Friday the 13th -- so if I believed in the bad superstitions, what would that say about me?
More than half of Americans have admitted to being a little superstitious, according to a Gallup poll. But is this "magical" thinking hurting or helping you?
WebMD says that obsessive compulsive disorder can mimic superstitious behavior. For example, with the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, the line between sports rituals and OCD behavior is blurry. But if the behavior is effecting your everyday life, the answer could be that you've just gone past fun superstitious behavior to something more serious.
But there are benefits to superstitions.
Stuart Vyse, PhD, the author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, told WebMD, "Superstitions provide people with the sense that they've done one more thing to try to ensure the outcome they are looking for."
If carrying a lucky object makes you feel more confident, in control and secure, then this is a good thing (unless it's when you're gambling). It acts as a placebo affect — if you think something will help you, it may actually help you. If you are looking for something good to happen while carrying a rabbit's foot in your pocket, chances are you will see something good happen.
But if you experience feelings of tension, excessive worry, trouble sleeping, obsessive thoughts and exhaustion and the behavior, superstitious or not, is getting out-of-control, get help from a doctor or counselor .
For example, if can't go into a bathroom because you're terrified Bloody Mary will show up in the mirror, this isn't healthy and could be debilitating. And if I ever get to the point where my bracelet becomes more than a pretty piece of jewelry and, instead, I become so attached that I can't go to work if ever I misplace it — please call a psychiatrist for me.