Magical Thinking Can’t Make Someone Think

One form of “magical thinking” is the false belief that someone can “be stopped” from a self-destructive or self-defeating course. The magical thinking starts with the belief, “I should be able to stop him/her.” What follows is, “If I cannot stop him or her from being self-destructive, then someone else can.” Who? Not specified. “Stop” by what means? Somehow.

The lack of concrete specifics in answering these questions reveals the nature of the magical thinking involved. The root premise that makes the magical thinking possible is the idea that minds can be forced to engage in thinking. Thinking is the one thing that cannot be forced. If getting someone to stop some behavior requires even a moment of thought on his or her part, then the thinking will have to be self-generated. It’s always possible to give someone else new or good ideas. But they must want to consider ideas in the first place.