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The lived experience of magical monents : a heuristic exploration

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The lived experience of magical monents : a heuristic exploration
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THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF MAGICAL MOMENTS:
A HEURISTIC EXPLORATION



*


By

ROM BRAFMAN


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2005














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Franz R. Epting for agreeing to serve as my advisor and dissertation committee chair. I am grateful for his unwavering support throughout this process. Dr. Epting's consistent encouragement and guidance were instrumental in the undertaking and completion of this dissertation. I am also indebted to the esteemed members of my committee, Dr. Robert Ziller, Dr. David Suchman, and Dr. Sheldon (Shaya) Isenberg. Their deep commitment to humanistic research has allowed me to pursue my interests on the subject matter of magical experiences and to complete this dissertation project. Throughout my tenure as a graduate student, my committee members have repeatedly made themselves available and bent over backwards to accommodate my needs. I am not exaggerating in stating that without them, I would not have been able to accomplish this research project.















TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page

ACKN O W LED GM EN TS ................................................... ................................................ v

LIST OF TABLES ..................................................................................................... v

LIST OF FIGURES............................................................................................................ vi

ABSTRACT ................................................................................... vii

IN TROD U CTION ............................................................................................................... 1

The Exploration of M agic ............................................................................................ 1
Personal Experiences and Reflections on M agic ................................................... 2

REV IEW O F LITERA TURE ........................................................................................ 9

M ETH O D O LO GY ........................................................................................................ 22

Participants ................................................................................................................. 22
Instrum ents ................................................................................................................. 22
Procedure .................................................................................................................... 23
An Introduction to the H euristic M ethod ............................................................... 23
Phases in the H euristic M ethod ............................................................................. 29

RESU LTS .......................................................................................................................... 33

D ISCU SSION .................................................................................................................... 43

Im plications for Psychotherapy ............................................................................. 44
Cultural D iversity .................................................................................................. 46
Relationship to O ther Experiences ........................................................................ 47
Further Im plications and Lim itations .................................................................... 48
Final Com m ents ................................................................................................... 48

SA M PLE QU ESTION N A IRE ...................................................................................... 51

IN FORM ED CON SEN T A GREEM EN T .................................................................... 52

IM M ER SION PHA SE .................................................................................................. 54








ILLUM INATION PHASE .......................................................................................... 58

EXPLICATION PHASE ............................................................................................... 59

LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................. 60

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................................................................ 64












































iv














LIST OF TABLES


Table p_ ge

Table 4-1. Frequencies of themes of magical experiences .......................................... 33

Table 4-2. Frequencies of themes of feeling differently during a magical experience .... 38 Table 4-3. Frequencies of themes of the impact of magical experiences .................... 39

Table 4-4. Frequencies of themes of recalling the original magical experiences ........ 40















LIST OF FIGURES

Figure pae

C-1. W hat is real? ........................................................................................................ 55

C-2. Harm ony ................................................................................................................... 56

C-3. Spells ........................................................................................................................ 57














Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF MAGICAL MOMENTS: A HEURISTIC EXPLORATION By

Rom Brafman

August, 2005

Chair: Franz Epting
Major Department: Psychology



This study examined the lived experience of magical moments, utilizing a

heuristic, qualitative method. It compared the historical perceptions of magic in the field of psychology and its relevance to science. The study also examined 70 questionnaires from university students describing magical experiences and their effects on them. The investigation revealed that magical experiences are related to constructs of love, excitement, healthy human relationships, and healing. The study also investigated similarities among magical experiences, positive experiences, and peak performances.













CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

The Exploration of Magic

This study has developed and matured in many intriguing ways. At the onset,

even before I knew the precise subject matter I wanted to explore, I was attracted to Clark Moustakas' heuristic methodology (1967). The heuristic approach allows a scientist to inspect, analyze, and pore over a given domain of inquiry. This process involves a detailed and focused examination that allows the investigator to intimately delve into a phenomenon in order to seek insights that illuminate the subject matter. For me, the most thrilling aspect of the heuristic methodology is the magical invitation to explore science to its fullest depth. What better subject to examine then, I came to realize, than magic itself? The purpose of this study is to explore the experience of magical moments in people's lives.

Once I decided to investigate the topic of magic, I began to actively notice

instances when the words "magic" and "magical" were used in linguistic discourses all around me. Interestingly, I observed that the term magic is used quite commonly, and in diverse settings: from the name of a radio station, to a corporate motto, to a description of an inspirational personal account, magic manifests a reoccurring and enduring presence in our daily lives.

When I told people that I was working on my dissertation and they asked me what it was about, and they found out that it was about magic, most of them were surprised. Many individuals, after their initial surprise-once they made sure that they actually did








indeed hear me correctly, that I am writing a psychological dissertation on the experience of magic-asked me to define magic. A dissertation on magic seems so open-ended, so exploratory, that it lacks a rigid formality that has unfortunately become associated with scientific examination. People would have been less surprised if I had told them I was writing my dissertation on neurobiological connections, rats' mating behavior, couples' arguing patterns, or memory loss than on the subject of the experience of magic. I might have put some people at ease if I had answered, falsely, that I define magic as an illusory process as Wohl and Enzle (2002) did. Or I could have furnished a satisfactory response by explaining that I am looking at the psychological processes involved in people's perceptions of magic tricks. But these are not my areas of interests. I am not looking to control magic, define it, or dissect it. I am looking to explore the experience of magic in a magical way.

Employing a heuristic qualitative method approach to the exploration of the experience of magic, I have examined the experiences of 70 individuals from various cultural backgrounds in order to illuminate themes and connections in occurrences of magic in people's lives. As part of this research project, I have also examined my own exploration of magic in order to facilitate my openness to the process. I used both of these paths to arrive at meanings and connotations of magic.

Personal Experiences and Reflections on Magic

For the past two years, since beginning work on this project, I have become

increasingly more attuned to the presence of magic in my life. I have come to realize that magic for me started even before I was born. The forces that brought my parents together, the conditions that allowed a successful birth, all of these are magical. But even on a grander scale, the people who fought for the survival of the Jewish people and the








establishment of the State of Israel, against all odds, and before that the successful evolutionary emergence of humans, and before that the manifestation of life-all of these allowed for my eventual existence. Any deviation along that process, of millions and millions of years, even the most minute or trivial change, could have meant a completely different existence-or none at all. It is because of magic that I am here.

The events in my life that lined themselves up so that in this very point in time I am writing about magic-that is magical. I was born in Israel six months prior to the Yom Kippur war that came dangerously close to ending my life. There are people who fought to save my life, people who sacrificed their own life, so I can be here living my life. They successfully thwarted an invasion that was only several miles away from potentially ending my life. Their efforts and ultimate success to once again defy the odds are magic. Who could have predicted, on that April night in 1973 that one day, 31 years later, I would be using the English language to communicate my thoughts on the experience of magic in the field of psychology? The way everything came together to make it happen is magic. If I had arrived at the University of Florida only a year later, I would not have been able to assemble a committee that would support my exploration; only a year later and this magic project would have had to be deferred, perhaps indefinitely. All forces in the universe that came together to make it happen, and to continue to make it happen, forces that I might never fully know of or understand, or never completely recognize the various impacts that they have on my life, all those are magical.

Life itself is magical. With all our technological advancement and scientific knowledge, we still cannot explain what is it that breathes life into an otherwise








inanimate object. The ability to make life a magical experience and to be aware of that magic-the magical awareness of magic-is magic in its own right. And the ability to turn away from magic, to insist that nothing is magical, even that option in such a vast array of possibilities, this non-possibility, is magic.

The process of doing psychotherapy is magical. It cannot be fully logically

fathomed. The healing that happens, for all parties, stemming from presence, is in itself a magical construct. The results that occur, the transformation, the awakenings, they are all magical. Psychologists have spent decades in the quixotic search for the specific elements that make psychotherapy work (Wampold, 2000), but all they were able to find is the circular explanation that therapy is what makes therapy work, it is the relationship, the bond, the total package, that leads to success. In other words, it is a type of magic.

For many lay people, and even, unfortunately, for too many psychologists, the

process and prospect of conducting psychotherapy are enervating. Counseling, from that perspective, is comprised of complaints that need to be attended to, broken individuals who need to be fixed, and illnesses that need to be diagnosed and remedied. This mechanistic model strips the magic out of therapy. Without magic, therapy is a banal process, similar to a chore that needs to be completed but that carries no special value. There is nothing fun about listening to a so-called depressed person, unless the therapist is cognizant of the potential for and existence of magic. Systems of psychotherapy that do not embrace magic rob the practitioner and the client from the full possibility of growth and healing.

Magic makes the process of psychotherapy sacred, or as Leitner, Faidely, and Celentana (2003) refer to it, an encounter of reverence. There is a different feel to






5

therapy, quality therapy, that makes it unique from other processes. That quality is magic. Like a good musical performer who makes the concert experience more special and magical than a compact disc could ever hope to achieve, a healing therapist brings words to life, so that the words touch the psyche. When the psyche is touched, magic does the work of healing. In this aspect, a successful psychologist is a magician. If I, as a therapist, walk out of a therapy session the exact same person that I walked into it, then I did not conduct therapy. Quality therapy, magical therapy, is always transforming. The space comes alive. There is a recognizable shift in an office after a therapy session is conducted. Without magic, conducting psychotherapy becomes a heavy burden that leads to burnout. With magic, it becomes a blessing.

Teaching a course is similar to conducting psychotherapy in that magic makes the difference. As a student, I have rarely experienced classes that were magical. Starting in elementary school, most instructors were more similar to factory supervisors than to magicians. The notable exceptions made learning a sublime event. In fourth grade, I took a course about creative expression. I do not remember anything that happened during the first class meeting, but I remember that my mother described my face, right after I walked out of that class, as radiating. The teacher inspired magic. I felt that she was real. She did not try to box us in or to teach at us; rather, she invited us to be magical.

The best compliment that I can receive as an instructor is that the course I taught was magical. Sadly, most students I have encountered have come to accept the factory model of teaching as standard. When I ask students to incorporate creativity into their work, many of them are taken aback and ask me what do I mean by creativity or how








they can be creative. I wonder what feedback I would receive if I asked students to make their assignments magical.

I enjoy teaching, even when I have taught the same subject numerous times

previously. Teaching is not chiefly about the passing on of information but rather about the opportunity to awaken and enliven magic in students and, in return, in myself. I am not, and will probably never be able to, communicate magically with all students, but when the magic happens, the process of transformation ensues.

In Ancient Greek, the word used for butterfly was psyche. The metamorphosis of the regeneration of life signifies the magical renewal of the human psyche. That process is a manifestation of magic.

The commonality between conducting psychotherapy and teaching is that both modes have the potential to act as vehicles to reach the psyche. I find that this magical process can unfold properly only when I act out of love. Love is the fuel that allows the magic of the psyche to blossom. The interaction among love, magic, and psyche provides the power to transcend and overcome limits. The effect is exponential in that a little magic begets even greater magic that results in barriers exploding and new levels reached. One of my favorite questions to ask clients after a couple of months in therapy, especially when they do not seem to fully appreciate their progress, is what would they have said if I had told them during our first meeting that in only a couple of months they would be where they are today? The answer is almost always, "I would say that you were crazy." The element of surprise in the progress is due to magic. Magic transcends the logical, rational expectations that usually define our reality.








Unfortunately, I usually do not honor magic. I usually dismiss it or conveniently assimilate it into the rational realm. To the extent that I am aware of my magic, I can become aware of my full power. The most powerful classroom activities and clinical interventions in therapy are inspired by a sense of magic. My rational side oftentimes objects vehemently. During the first day of the Introduction to Humanistic Psychology courses that I have taught, for example, I force myself to carry out a non-rational activity: I provide those students who are interested with the opportunity to close their eyes and envision an inner flame. I ask them to notice the color and size of the flame. I then ask them to ask the flame what it says to them and write it down. Conducting this activity makes me feel vulnerable. I am no longer protected by convention, by logic, by rational thought. I risk becoming cast aside as weird and crazy. At the same time, I open a door of opportunity that adds an element of magic to the course. Many students, initially pessimistic about this unusual activity, become amazed themselves by what they were able to produce as a result of writing down their personal discourse with their inner flame. If my psyche is my core and that core is magical, then I am really all about magic. When I am enveloped in magic, I can most easily be myself.

My magic transcends rational logic. When I first attempted to capture a part of its essence, I came up with this flow of words that resonated magic to me:

Magical magic engulfing life at an angelic moment mesmerizing life
in a rhythm of magic in touch with a manifesting beauty of magic and
meaning and grand movements of stillness in magic of life in
immeasurable magnitudes of magnificent memories manifesting
in magical love in magic of me.

This dance of words is usually out of step with conventional scientific lingo. But there is no reason that science and magic need to be separated. A science without magic








is a dead corpus. When physicists stumbled upon the behaviors of quantum particles, they had to abandon sole reliance on the classical linear and rational paradigm. Viewed from a certain angle, quantum mechanics appears paradoxical and random. Albert Einstein rejected the theory of quantum physics, saying that he does not believe that God plays dice with the universe. Perhaps God is performing magic on the universe. In that magic, everything is relative, all of the old rules that supposedly defined our existence have a statistical probability of being broken: light particles behave like waves, time appears to slow down, the universe itself seems to have a consciousness.

As rational as we attempt to be during waking life, dreams have a magical essence to them, connecting us with magical ways that we oftentimes abandon. But even waking life is filled with magic. There is something magical about producing words. Ink on paper is even amazing. The most powerful magic emanates from love. My psyche is made up of magical love. When love hits the ocean of life, magic is the waves rippling to the rhythm of love. Magic creates the ability for love to reverberate back onto itself to create the waves of resounding harmony. If the Big Bang is love, then magic is the flowing energy and matter of the universe. Magic rewrites destiny. The understanding of love is magic. The gratitude for magic is love. The psyche is a dance of loving magic.

This study utilizes a heuristic, qualitative methodology to explore the realm of magical experiences, as defined by the participants. My own experience with the exploration will be interwoven with my examination of my participants' data. Themes, patterns, and insights into the phenomenon of magical experiencing will be revealed.













CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE

The topic of magic has been embedded in the field of psychology for over a

century. In the beginning stages of psychology, magic imposed at least an implicit threat to the newly emerging science of psychology: Goldenweiser (1919) pointed out that during the years of 1891-1918, Western thinkers characterized magic as an anti-social force. Magic was seen as primitive, a precursor to religion. This Eurocentric characterization places magic as a devalued and dangerous element to civilized, scientific studies. Frost (1914) sought to identify psychology as a science and hence rid it of the troubling element of consciousness. "The whole conception of a mental, extraphysiological experience appears only as a pleasant speculation for the philosopher to play with; but one that becomes useless, if not misleading, for the teaching of psychology as a science" (p. 208). If consciousness is antithetical to science, surely magic does not fare much better. McClelland (1924), although respectful of the mystical tradition, paired magic with vulgarity. It seems then that even on a semantic level, magic was viewed as a dreadful and depraved component of the human condition.

Bode (1914) felt that the essence of psychology as a science needs to be of an objective and experimental character. He criticized psychology's "wallow of subjectivism" (p. 50). He advocated that "we get rid of the obscurities and ambiguities which are inherent in the current [psychological] conceptions" (p.59). Watson (1913) went so far as to say that the scientific theoretical goal of psychology is prediction and control. Bawden (1910) wished to reduce psychology to a science that centers around the








study of motor behavior. Magic connotes an element of uncertainty and randomnessthus going against the orthodox scientific grain of psychology.

Magic was also criticized for its primitive connotation. Coriat (1923) asked,

"What is magic but the aspects of suggestion in undeveloped minds?" (p. 258) He linked such magical thinking to neurotic symptoms that appear irrational and illogical. Leuba (1909) identified magic with coercive behavior and even goes as far as stating that this characterization identifies the uniqueness of humans from all other animals. He viewed science as distinct from magic and believes that the field of psychology has drawn nothing from it. He also stated that religion and mechanical behavior distinguish civilized people from the primitive, who reside in the realm of magic: "As one ascends from the lowest stages of culture, magic gradually loses official recognition" (p. 109). He defined the process of magic as "time-wasting, often costly and painful ceremonies for results rarely secured" (p. 109) and equated magic with "the gambler's method of securing luck" (p. 111).

Swanton (1924) suggested that magic is related to primitive practices. Carncross (1926) elaborated on the magic-primitive connection by adding that this mode resembles infantile thinking. Magic is devalued as overly-simplistic and outdated, placed on the opposite pole of advanced, scientific thought. Bernard (1927) identified an evolutionary progress from magic to science, such that magic impedes humans' abilities to best function in our environments. "The primitive method of asserting our wills over those of others, to speak in subjective or affective attitudinal terminology, is that of magic" (p.63). His solution was to "[extend] naturalistic and mechanistic principles of explanation to all phenomena, including human behavior" (p.70).








Since magic is associated with primitive and childish characteristics, illogical tendencies that stand in the way of scientific and rational progress, no wonder then, as White (1928) pointed, that psychologists have characterized schizophrenics as exhibiting magical speech. In the eyes of the orthodox psychologist, the schizophrenic individual could be seen as threatening because she or he is operating under a non-scientific, unintelligible, magical set of tenets. Through the association with primitive and infantile behaviors and tendencies, the schizophrenic individual then presents a threat to the Western conceptualization of order, advancement, and rigidity.

Freud (1928) argued that religion and science are mortal enemies. The title of his work, Future of an Illusion, amplifies the tension and fear that lies at the heart of the thought of the possibility of unifying elements of magic with elements of science. Freud explained that religion and magic serve to keep humanity boxed in an ignorant and unenlightened awareness of reality. He advocated a distancing from magic and spirituality in order to best advance the enterprise of science. Whitebook (2002) pointed out that Freud's theory, paradoxically, is itself based on many so-called magical tenets that defy objective, scientific examination.

Not everyone in the field of psychology, though, was opposed to the force of

magic. Smith (1930) accepted the relevance of scientific reality, but also explained that irrational components hold their own valid truths. Magic can open the doors to accessing information that is unattainable using more rational, logical methods. Smith pointed that knowledge of magic can oftentimes be explored through non-verbal, symbolic mediums.

Jung (1960) criticized psychology for being too unbalanced in favor of scientific objectivity: "No value exists unless founded on a so-called fact" (p.339). Jung attributed








this disturbing phenomenon to "a bias, an emotional tendency that works upon weaker minds, through the unconscious, with an overwhelming force of suggestion" (p. 340). In other words, Jung explained our dismissal of magical experiencing as a psychological handicap, an inability to engage in a balanced view of reality. Jung said that as a result of our one-dimensional thinking we have arrived at "a psychology without the psyche" (p.343). Without realization and appreciation of the spiritual and magical elements, the psyche becomes "nothing but a product of biochemical processes" (p.344). Jung observed that indigenous cultures view magic and the psyche as essential elements of life, "something objective, self-subsistent, and living its own life" (p.346). Magic is not a subjective illusion but rather an objective reality. Jung warned that practicing psychotherapy without an awareness of magic could be extremely detrimental: "More than a few suicides in the course of psychotherapeutic treatment are to be laid at the door of such mistakes" (p.352). Jung blamed the repression of magic on Western culture's intolerance of the unconscious realm.

Jung (1963) related a meaningful encounter that he had with a Native American leader, Ochwiay Biano. Jung described how the indigenous leader perceives the magicless White people and then Jung described his own reaction to the powerful message:

"... [White people's] eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking
something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are
always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not
understand them. We think that they are mad."

I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad.

"They say that they think with their heads," he replied.

"Why of course. What do you think with?" I asked him in surprise.

"We think here," he said, indicating his heart.








I fell into a long meditation. For the first time in my life, so it seems to me,
someone had drawn for me a picture of the real white man... This [American]
Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind. I felt rising within me like a shapeless mist something unknown and yet deeply familiar.
(p. 248)


Jung remarked upon reflection on these events that "[Western] knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythic world in which we were once at home by right of birth" (p.352). To separate magic from our being is not only to act injuriously; by ignoring magic we are operating within a psychology that is blind to its very essence, its psyche, its power.

Castaneda (1968) reached similar conclusions to those of Jung. Castaneda spent several years learning about, what he called, sorcery from indigenous people in Mexico. His anthropological ventures allowed him to gain insights into the practices and views of native people. Castaneda questioned the parameters of reality, realizing that magic and power also reside in what most modem Americans perceive to be fantasy or illusion. He learned that the tools that are often used to substantiate reality, namely the senses and logic, oftentimes lead to erroneous perceptions, and that reality is something that needed to be felt and intuited. Greenwood (2000) concurred with Castaneda's overall premise. He investigated pagan magical rituals and concluded that magic allows individuals to gain knowledge from another dimension, or an otherworld. This method of deriving knowledge, argued Greenwood, is a valid scientific undertaking.

Similarly, Krippner and Achterberg (2000) pointed that Western culture is extremist in its heavy reliance of physical medicine to account for human health:

in the West and other parts of the world under Western influence,
allopathic biomedicine has become the dominant curative paradigm, bolstered by political, economic, and legal institutions. As a result,
reported healing behaviors and experiences that deviate from this








paradigm are regarded as anomalous, that is, at variance with biomedical
diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Indeed, the word healing is rarely
mentioned within the context of the biomedical model. (p.354)


Tambiah (1990) asserted that rationality and relativism can coexist without

expunging the validity of one another. According to Tambiah, a logical explanation of a phenomenon does not negate that others can comprehend the same event as being magical. Science and magic, therefore, need not be opposites. Both rational and magical paradigms offer their own unique insights. Specifically, Horton (1997) investigated the construct of magic in indigenous African cultures. He criticized the orthodox separation between magic and religion, and proposed that researchers focus on the overlap between magic and science. Cunningham (1999) added that the mainstream approach to scientific inquiry is androcentric; its bias toward hard logic and facts belies its ability to gain knowledge beyond a limited set of information. Cunningham explained that scientists who adhered to rigid scientific norms have ended up censoring and limiting the full exploration of the realm of magic.

Maslow (1967) ushered in the third force, humanistic paradigm that not only was tolerable of magic but also celebrated it. Maslow illuminated the magic in various aspects of human life, such as in love. Magical love, or what Maslow called "Beinglove," is described as a love that "grows greater rather than disappearing. It is intrinsically enjoyable. It is end rather than means" (p. 48). Maslow called the experience of Being-love, mystical. This connotes a spiritual and magical encounter. This phenomenon cannot be fully or adequately captured by intellectual or logical analysis alone. There is a certain irrational or magical component to its essence. Maslow








describes it as being "too wonderful" (p.98). "There is a special flavor of wonder, of awe, of reverence, of humility and surrender" (p.98).

Another one of Maslow's investigations relating to the magical experience is the peak experience. Maslow described these as "happiest moments, ecstatic moments, moments of rapture" (p.83). The peak experience has also been described as "intense joy or ecstasy that stands out perceptually and cognitively among other experiences" (p. 161) (Privette, 2000). Individuals who have gone through a peak experience might also describe the event as being magical. But the magical experience might not necessarily be one of intensity, or even joyful.

More than a century after the field of psychology first tackled the subject of

magic, the word with its many connotations continues to appear in recent psychological studies. However, the subject of magic is by no means a fixed construct in psychology; it is still used in many varied fashions, oftentimes in diametrically opposing ways. Magic is still used by certain psychologists in similar ways to the way that it was used in the early 1900's, as a force that rivals science.

Wohl and Enzle (2002) equated magic with illusory control in games of pure chance. In this sense, magic is still seen as an explanatory fiction used as a filler to account for phenomena that are random. In other words, magic is viewed as something that is used in an uniformed, uneducated way by individuals who are searching for an explanation, any explanation, to describe away uncertainty. They posed that science is the educated antidote to magic. Specifically, Wohl and Enzle provided participants with an opportunity to exert control over picking lottery numbers versus having a number picked for them by one of the researchers. Participants overwhelmingly preferred to








make their own selection, although mathematically they were not improving their odds. Wohl and Enzle attributed this behavior to a non-rational, magical belief system: "our general hypothesis is that people believe that they have a personal quality of luck that can be used to control logically uncontrollable games of chance" (p. 1390).

In a similar vain, Odendaal (2000) explored whether animal-assisted therapy is magic or medicine. He states that "it is possible that animal-assisted therapy was not generally accepted by physicians as a valid medical approach because it was seen as a placebo effect" (p. 279). The false dichotomy between magic and medicine, perhaps even on the semantic level, points once again to the Eurocentric notion that we need to transcend magic in order to achieve solid scientific progress.

Subbotsky and Quinteros (2002) examined rational and magical beliefs in Britain and in Mexico. Once again we see a dichotomy between magic and rational ways of approaching the world, assuming that magic does not have its own rationale or that rational thinking cannot be magical. Furthermore, Subbotsky and Quinteros came up with an ethnocentric hypothesis, stating that Mexicans are more likely to think magically compared to the English. "The assumption was based on the fact that in a Western culture an individual is encouraged (by school education, media, art, interpersonal communication and other cultural impacts) to believe that science is the only way to account for natural events, whereas in a non-Western society the 'pressure' of scientific rationality on an individual is substantially less evident---due to the lack of formal scientific education and the abundance of pre-Christian magical beliefs and superstitions" (p. 520).








Interestingly, the hypothesis that Mexicans were more likely to resort to magical beliefs than were the English was not fully supported. Subbotsky and Quinteros (2002) found that although British individuals were more likely to identify with rational explanations than were Mexican individuals, participants of both cultures were equally likely to engage in magical explanations when encountered with a seemingly unexplainable phenomenon. In other words, even though British participants are more likely to think of themselves as thinking rationally, when they are faced with an actual situation, they are as likely as Mexican participants to use magical explanations for mysterious phenomena.

Specifically, Subbotsky and Quinteros (2002) used a wooden box to demonstrate an unusual event

that looked like an inexplicable change in a physical object which
had been placed inside the box (i.e. a new plastic card placed in the
box became cut in three places or badly scratched as if by a sharp
nail). A specially constructed lid and a system of magnets hidden in
the walls of the box allowed the box to be manipulated (i.e. turned
upside down or shaken) without revealing the secret of the trick (the
double bottom). A physical device that produced light and sound effects when switched on was also available. The device could be
connected or disconnected from the wooden box via a wire. (p. 526)

In one condition, Subbotsky and Quinteros used the light and sound producing physical device as a scientific explanation to account for the alterations to the card. In the other condition, Subbotsky and Quinteros did not use the physical device but instead uttered a spell as a magical explanation to account for the alterations to the card. They found that although the British participants were more amenable to believe the scientific account, participants from both cultures were equally reluctant to place a valuable possession in the box, regardless of the scientific or magical explanation condition. One implication of








Subbotsky and Quinteros' study is that even after years of intellectualization and industrialization, magic is still a strong cross-cultural force among humans. Perhaps magic is so engrained into the human condition that even though it can be rationalized away, it still manifests itself in times where logic seems to fail us.

Interestingly, Miner (1956), in his iconoclastic challenge to the notion that

modem civilizations contain highly rational beings, described American culture as filled with "magic-ridden people" (p. 507). Employing an ironic style, Miner depicted American society has operating on numerous primitive-seeming practices. For instance, Miner chose to describe the bathroom medicine cabinet as a chest containing "the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live... As these magical materials are specific for certain ills, and the real or imagined maladies of the people are many, the charm-box is usually full to overflowing" (p.504). Similarly, doctors are described as magical practitioners who "insert magic wands in the supplicant's mouth or force him [or her] to eat substances which are supposed to be healing" (p. 506). Psychologists do not escape Miner's wrath; he refers to them as "witchdoctors" (p.507).

Unfortunately, even recently, psychologists have equated magic with undesirable or harmful occurrences. Evans, Milianak and Medeiros (2002) made a frightening claim that magical beliefs in children correlate to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Evans, et al. based their findings on observations of children and reports of their behaviors that were gathered by the children's parents. "Results indicated that children's rituals and compulsions were positively related to their magical beliefs, and inversely related to their uses of concrete, physical explanations to describe various phenomena" (p. 43).








Specifically, Evans, et al. observed that "children's beliefs in the power of wishes were positively associated with their ritualistic, compulsive-like behaviors" (p.57). The scary aspect of this research is that what is identified and labeled as obsessive-compulsive behavior could actually be non-mainstream behavior that might be, under certain conditions, extremely productive, or in the very least not harmful, to the child. Researchers like Evans, et al. are in danger of using circular logic to bolster a type of intellectual witch-hunt against magic.

Fortunately, not all modem psychologists take an antagonistic position against magic. Masten (2001) spoke of ordinary magic, a person's natural penchant for resilience and survival to thrive even in unfavorable conditions: "Resilience does not come from rare and special qualities, but from the everyday magic of ordinary, normative human resources in the minds, brains, and bodies of children, in their families and relationships, and in their communities" (p.228). Masten viewed the human ability to endure and to heal as being magical and does not see the need to explain away this phenomenon with purely scientific explanations. Similarly, Gilroy (2001) discovered that magic gave him a highly non-threatening, therapeutic way to interact with greater numbers of children. He found that children tend to be open and receptive to magic and that by using magic the psychologist can facilitate a more open, egalitarian relationship with otherwise resisting children. In a similar vein, Kubovy (2003) explained that the pleasures of the mind involve emotions and that this state can be characterized as being magical.

One of the emerging new fields in psychology is the exploration of magic in

children. Woolley (2000) stated that children under five believe in magical wishing. In








other words, young children's reality is such that they believe that their wishes affect the events in the world. Wolley explained that after age five, children turn to prayer. Rosengren and Hickling (2000), however, differentiated magic from religion: they do not see magic as simply a lack of cognitive complexity but rather an application of a specific type of causal reasoning that involves reference to specific powers that cannot be fully fathomed with traditional logic. Furthermore, cultural views of magic and religion interplay with a child's conceptualization of the world. Rosengren and Hickling also presented evidence that magical reasoning emerges in the fourth year of life, peaks at around age five, and then almost vanishes when children are assimilated into the scientific school training. Thus, children oftentimes lose their ability to view the world magically as they grow older. Formal education tends to destroy and slay children's tendencies of magical thinking.

One of the most promising articles about magic is Nemeroff and Rozin's (2000) work. They concurred with the classical psychological definitions of magic as a quality that "does not make sense in terms of contemporary understandings of science, and... typically relies on subjective evidence and involves a conflation of internal and external worlds" (p.2). But Nemeroff and Rozin did not categorically reject magic or view it as an inferior element: "We discard the notion of an evolutionary sequence from magic-toreligion-to-science" (p.2). They recognized the interrelatedness between science and magic: "Centuries ago, 'action at a distance' was considered the hallmark of magic; the notion of gravity was initially rejected on that basis. Today, remote controls and sound and light sensors are commonplace" (p. 28). Nemeroff and Rozin recognized that magic and science are not antagonistic: "Today's magic sometimes becomes tomorrow's








science, and today's science is sometimes tomorrow's magic... In short, we consider magic as worthy of respect as an important and potentially beneficial human function" (pp.2-3). They encouraged the psychological study of magic:

We conclude that magical thinking is an important part of human life, yet it has been little studied and hence is poorly understood. Magical thinking is
sometimes adaptive and sometimes problematic, but it is almost always a
force to be reckoned with. In short, we see magic as fundamental to
human nature and empirically addressable, and urge increased attention to it.

In summary, the subject matter of magic has been addressed and discussed from the early days of the field of modem day psychology. In the beginning of the twentieth century, many psychologists who wrote about magic treated it as an inferior construct to more advanced or civilized Western conceptualizations, such as science. In many ways, magic was considered to be the antithesis of psychological progress.

As the science of psychology advanced, more prominent psychologists were willing to consider subjective and magical experiences as valid, important, and sometimes even crucial, to our full understanding of human psychology. Today, some scientists still hold on to antiquated notions that magical experiences are antagonistic to psychological progress. Fortunately, though, the subject matter of magic continues to be examined and applied to various fields of study within the psychological domain. This study aims to more closely examine those experiences that participants define as magical in order to gain a deeper understanding of the human array of magical being. The next chapter of this study details the heuristic, qualitative methodology that was used to analyze the data.













CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

In this chapter I will delineate the various steps that I took in collecting and

analyzing the data about magical experiences. I will lay out the heuristic methodology of conducing qualitative research. I will also share the specific steps I took in following the heuristic method.

Participants

I administered a short answer, open-ended questionnaire to 70 undergraduate

students who were enrolled in a psychology course. They each received extra credit for the course for filling out the questionnaire. The majority of participants, 48 individuals (69%), were women. A slight majority, 40 participants (57%) were White. The rest of the participants were from diverse cultural backgrounds, such as Hispanic, African American, and Asian. The age range of participants was from 18 to 44, with an average age of 21.

Instruments

Each participant received a questionnaire with the following 4 questions. (See Appendix A):

1. Think of a special or exciting experience in your life that you felt was magical-a
unique moment or event that was for you filled with magic. This experience can be
from any time in your life. Please tell me about this experience.

2. How did you feel differently during this experience?

3. What impact has this experience had on your life?

4. What is it like now to recall your memory of that original magical experience?








Procedure

I handed the questionnaires to students enrolled in an introductory psychology

course. I also presented each participant with an informed consent agreement (Appendix B). I asked them to answer all of the questions. I also told the students that they could ask me questions if anything was unclear. None of the students asked any questions. All of the participants were able to complete their responses within 15 minutes.

An Introduction to the Heuristic Method

This study uses the qualitative heuristic framework to examine the phenomenon of the experience of magic. The heuristic model is focused on fluid process (Von Eckartsberg, 1971): instead of utilizing set methods and procedures, the heuristic model places emphasis on the interactive process of discovery (Moustakas, 1967). Moustakas explained the essence of the heuristic orientation:

[The heuristic method] is a process of searching and studying, of
being open to significant dimensions of experience in which
comprehension and compassion mingle; in which intellect, emotion,
and spirit are integrated; in which intuition, spontaneity, and selfexploration are seen as components of unified experience; in which both discovery and creation are reflections of creative research into human ventures, human processes, and human experience (p. 107).

The heuristic model is open to the magic of experience and seeks to let it play a leading role in the conceptualization and process of the scientific investigation. Thus, the heuristic approach steps away from sterile methodologies and embraces a Taoist-like process that focuses on connectivity and flow.

The heuristic process tends to move from the whole to the part and
back to the whole, from the individual to the general and back again.
It fluctuates from the concrete to the abstract and back to the
concrete, from the feeling to the word and back to the feeling, from
the experience to the cocept and back to the experience (Craig,
1978, p. 57.)








The heuristic design celebrates a poetic, intuitive, non-linear approach to science. It enables the researcher to parallel the movements of the experience under investigation without forcing them into a rigid, compartmental enclosure. The spirit of the experience is recorded without encaging the experience. The dance between the experimenter, the participants, and the subject matter under investigation is the focus of the exploration. That dance, that process, is appreciated and celebrated. The heuristic approach is not reductive. Its aim is not to arrive at a single theme or phrase that defines the phenomenon. The heuristic methodology preserves the interactive process and examines it from various angles in order to elucidate patterns, connections, and insights that might have otherwise remained ensconced.

The research investigation itself takes on a living, organic quality. The scientist strives to gain familiarity with the nuances and processes of movement of the corpus. The investigation generates rhythms that reveal pathways to meaning (Moustakas, 1981). The rhythms oscillate between the novel and the known, wonder and calmness, risk and safety. The researcher seeks to identify the various rhythms, themes, and patterns relating to the subject under investigation, both internally and in the outward aspects of the research (i.e. participants, literature review).

The heuristic method incorporates self-exploration into the scientific

investigation. The researcher is a central component of the study (Moustakas, 1967). An essential aspect of the corpus, therefore, is the scientist's own reflections, understanding, and experience. The scientist is deeply and intimately a part of the exploration. Moreover, the researcher is expected to passionately delve into the experience (Polanyi,








1958). As Kelly (1969) pointed, scientists are ultimately also subjects in their own research.

The origin of the study itself emanates from the scientist. Thus, even at the earlier stages, the researcher acts as a fountain to the blossoming of the eventual study. The seed for the study might lie dormant for years, raw and unstructured, until the right conditions allow it to mature into a full-fledged investigation. Even the scientist is probably not fully aware of the earliest roots of the origins of the quest (Craig, 1978).

Polanyi (1958) explained that there is no clear boundary between researcher and research. The two are integrated and the final product cannot be cleanly separated into the objective and subjective:

[The process of science] summons us, passionately and far beyond our
comprehension... for we live in it as in the garment of our skin. Like love,
to which it is akin, this commitment is a 'shirt of flame,' blazing with passion and,
also like love, consumed by devotion... (p. 64).

The heuristic investigation relies on discovery. The process of discovery entails much more than a testing of a hypothesis or an analysis of data. Discoveries can occur on several levels, such as intellectual, intuitive, emotional, and magical. The process of discovery involves creativity and depth. The heuristic methodology does not provide stiff rules or rigid guidelines to dictate the discovery procedure. The interactive rhythms and the artistic movement of the project guide the heuristic process of discovery. The focus of the discovery is not on reaching a solution or arriving at a result. The purpose of the discovery is to delve deeper into the phenomenon and gain further insight and broader understanding.

The discovery process of the heuristic method allows for the emergence of new knowledge. This process of emergence is a natural byproduct of discovery. It is the








reaping of the crop that was sewn by the seeds of discovery. Emergence happens when ideas, thoughts, and feelings realign and fall into place to generate an insight. This process is not controlled by conscious effort. A hidden truth is revealed. Rogers (1965) recognized this stage when stating that ". . . all science is based on a recognition-usually prelogical, intuitive, involving all the capacities of the organism---of a dimly sensed gestalt, a hidden reality (p. 189)." The hitherto hidden gem mushrooms into awareness. Emergence has an a-ah! quality to it. New connections and insights demystify some of the mysteries of the subject matter under investigation.

The process of discovery and emergence are not finite. New connections,

insights, and patterns will continue to emerge. The heuristic methodology recognizes the plausibility that what seems to be the end result might be, and probably is, only an end to one path and the beginning of a new one. This research study does not represent closure on my exploration of magic. My report to you is a summary of my journey thus far. If I revisit this project in ten years, I hope to have much to add to my findings. The heuristic process, like a geometric hyperbola, extends indefinitely. Craig (1978) explained that the exploration is ever continuous, gaining in depth and wisdom.

The heuristic process accepts faith as a subjective form of knowledge. Because nothing can ever be known to be fully and completely objectively true (Rogers, 1965), trust and faith in the process of the acquisition of knowledge is an important step in the heuristic methodology. Craig (1978) reported that "my primary experience is one of faith, faith that something will happen, that some unknown reality will speak and I will be there to listen (p.51)." Faith is necessary when delving into a new area or when confusion seems to reign. I find faith most important in times of doubt. The distrusting








attitude that the field of psychology has historically held about the validity of qualitative methodology, especially humanistically-centered approaches, can make it easy for the heuristic scientist to question the process of her or his exploration. Faith is necessary in order to produce the best possible exploration and overcome oppressive prejudices.

The heuristic study's validity cannot be measured by traditional empirical means. The exploration is valid in its subjective truth as experienced by the scientist and by those who share in its reading (Moustakas, 1967). The project is valid to the extent that it sheds light on and adds significance to the understanding of the reader. Validity is measured through the degree of meaning of the work. In this sense, the heuristic measure of validity is more strenuous and adds responsibility on the researcher: the project is not valid simply because it is deemed to be accurate by a certain measure. Validity is only established when the material touches and impacts an individual.

One of Moustakas' most famous heuristic studies is the exploration of the state of loneliness (Moustakas, 1961). Moustakas delved into the experience of what it means to feel lonely. He would go out walking late at night, trying to fully comprehend what it is like to feel completely alone. Moustakas searched to understand both the devastating and inspirational aspects of loneliness: "I realize that [a person's] inevitable and infinite loneliness is not solely an awful condition of human existence but that it is also the instrument through which [an individual] experiences new compassion and new beauty" (p. x).

Researches have continued to adopt Moustakas' heuristic model to investigate

intriguing, and usually personal, phenomena. Pagans (2001) explored her dual White and Native American identity in "Return of the White Buffalo." Although Pagans was raised








in the mainstream cultural environment of Virginia, she wanted to integrate her indigenous background in her life. She found the process of regaining knowledge about her heritage and understanding how it became lost in the first place to be a transcendent experience. She reports that the resulting integration filled her soul with spiritual ecstasy. In her heuristic journey, she made an extensive literature review of Native Americans, interviewed several members of the Monacan Indian Nation, and visited the land where her ancestors lived.

Stuckey (2001) interviewed Jungian psychotherapists in his heuristic investigation of the state of presence. He explained that although presence has been theoretically explored, no study delved full force into the phenomenon. Stuckey found that in order for presence to be achieved, both therapist and client need to feel safe and secure. When presence in psychotherapy is achieved, the experience often contains numinous and spiritual qualities. According to Stuckey, when people are fully present they are able to communicate on a deeper level and see each other as enlightened beings.

Smith (2000) explored the experience of being a member of a stepfamily. She

wanted to gain insight into the process of being integrated into a new family unit. Smith interviewed several individuals who lived as members of stepfamilies. Her investigation enabled her to produce five common stages in the experience of becoming a member of a stepfamily: honeymoon, hostility, ambivalence, transition, and resolution. Smith's findings not only helped her in gaining insight into her own experience, but they also shed light on patterns common to all people who become members of a stepfamily.














Phases in the Heuristic Method

The heuristic methodology generally involves 5 overlapping phases: immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and creative synthesis. During the first step of immersion, the investigator opens up to aspects of the phenomenon that is under study. According to Rogers (1965), "It means soaking up experience like a sponge so that it is taken in all its complexity, with my total organism freely participating in the experiencing of the phenomenon, not simply my conscious mind (p. 187)." Moustakas (1981) compared immersion to empathy, gaining a different vantage point through a willingness to remain open to possibilities.

When I decided to perform my dissertation on the experience of magic, I started to keep an artistic scrapbook about magic (See Appendix C). I used it as a creative means of exploring my feelings, ideas, thoughts, and reflections about magic. I included quotes that I found magical, my own personal ideas that came to mind about magic, and images that relate to my experience of magic. I normally do not create artistic work using this medium, and I was surprised at the ease at which I was able to create. I found the experience very powerful. It was a nursery for the ideas and realizations that I shared in my introduction to this work.

I also paid attention to the declaration of the word magic when it was mentioned. Whenever I would read a newspaper or a book, my eye immediately gravitated to the word "magic." The word "magic" also oftentimes appears in song lyrics. Magic often appears in colloquial phrases, such as "magically disappeared," "magical moments," and








"worked her magic." However, the concept of magic is almost never conveyed in the full power of the construct; in other words, I rarely hear people talking about personal experiences that have been so amazing that they are magical. And even then, the magical quality of the experience is almost never explored.

I also began to actively incorporate the construct of magic into my own

understanding of psychology. There is power to magic that makes it resistant to the overwhelming rational and structured discipline that we have created. I have been able to more consciously appreciate the nuances and shades of wonder in my experience of psychology. Whether through teaching a class and engaging in a deep discussion that reveals interesting insights or through psychotherapeutic explorations with clients, I am more attuned to the magic that underlies the dance of experience. If science represents the trunk and branches of the psychology tree, then magic is everything that adds flavor and beauty, like the leaves and small creatures.

I noticed that magic adds flavor to experience. Perhaps the antithesis of magic is not at all science but the mundane. People who are depressed seem to not be fully aware and cognizant of the magic in their lives. Magic, in its more subtle and flexible form, is not concerned with making objects disappear and reappear, but rather it adds life to a process, it spices things up. Magic makes an ordinary event vibrant and exciting.

The second phase of the heuristic methodology is incubation. This is not a phase of action or doing. Incubation is simply a state of allowing the process to mature. This is a tacit, passive stage where all the different elements simply settle down and marinate. Connections, interactions, patterns, and insights wait to be awakened.








For the second phase, I simply allowed the process of integrating magic into my awareness to brew and develop. I was noticing that even though I was not actively engaged with the concept of magic in my mind, the construct of magic was taking root and becoming a more core concept. I was increasingly more comfortable integrating the word magic into my description of events as well as into my own narrative.

The third phase is illumination. This is where active ideas begin to form and

flower. It is a process of revelation (Polanyi, 1958). Concepts begin to form into solid theories or possibilities. For me, one of the instances of illumination happened a few months after I began this project. I was teaching a personality psychology undergraduate course and I suddenly realized that magic is an important construct that differentiates personality theorists (See Appendix D). I also began to more fully appreciate the power of magic in mental health, that one of my primary goals of being a psychotherapist is to work with my client to regain his or her own magical experiencing of life. Additionally, I find it important for a psychotherapy session that I deliver to be magical. There is a certain gestalt characteristic to magical experiences that makes the totality of the event meaningful and invigorating in ways that cannot simply be broken down. I understood that there is a certain amount of flexibility and freedom that emanate from pulling away from the gravity of pure logical and objective thinking.

The fourth phase of the heuristic model is explication. Conceptualizations and theories become more refined. Subtleties and nuances are added to accentuate the validity of the emerging patterns and connections. For me, explication occurred with the realization of the various ways in which the lack of magic in most mainstream psychological theories and practices are detrimental to the healing process. I began to








understand that not only is the lack of magic affecting the clients, it also affects the practitioner, the scientist, and the health of our culture as a whole.

I began to become more attuned to what it is like living in a culture that is largely devoid of magic. There is a certain robotic monotony that pervades everyday life in our culture. Predictability and routine are helping us become efficient, but we sacrifice the spontaneity and wonder of magic. As a result, we are in danger of turning into perfectly working zombies. Magic is the elixir that can regenerate our spirits (See Appendix E). But efficiency and magic are not orthogonal; both can coexist. I observed that I can be most effective and efficient, both in the realm of psychology and the outside world, when I allow magic to weave its way into my life.

The fifth and last phase is the creative synthesis. This is the assembly where all the various brooklets merge into a new body of water that conveys a deeper understanding of the phenomenon. The creative synthesis phase is not a d6nouement. It is the emerging story, the myth, which embraces the various parts. The insights resulting from this phase are revealed and presented in the discussion chapter of this manuscript.













CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

When I created the questionnaire, I was concerned that many of the participants would be confused about what a magical experience is all about. Because the survey did not define what a magical experience is, I expected that at least some of the participants would be unable to fill out the questionnaire or at the very least raise their hands to ask questions. Surprisingly, no one asked any questions. All 70 participants, who represent several cultural backgrounds, were able to complete the survey. The only exception was a young woman who wrote down that she has had exciting experiences in her life, but that she does not like referring to them as magical for religious reasons. But even this participant, albeit her protests, has had magical experiences and has understood what the question asked, she was simply uncomfortable using the specific word "magical" to account for her experiences. Frequencies of the themes of magical experiences are presented in Table 4-1.



Table 4-1. Frequencies of themes of magical experiences Theme Frequency Percentage Love 15 21
Performance or Winning 13 19 Travel 11 16 Graduation and Prom 9 13 Cars related 6 9 Spirituality, God, Religion 5 7 Nature 5 7








The most popular recounting of a magical experience was related to love. Fifteen participants (21%) reported magical experiences that involved love or a significant other. One participant reported, "The night I first met my boyfriend felt magically. From the moment we both looked into each other's eyes we knew there was something special there. The whole night felt like a dream." Another participant shared, "My first kiss. It was with my first boyfriend and long time best friend. It was tingly/sweet/sincere/romantic. It made my birthday magical." One participant wrote about her magical experience with her boyfriend: "Our prom is held on the beach so that night we went out to look at the stars and he held me and said he could do this forever. I asked if he meant look at the stars or hold me-he said holding on to me, being that close to me."

Some love magical accounts were unrelated to romance. One young man

reported: "I believe it was the first time I said 'I love you' to my mother. I believe she was telling me about the things that happened to her in her life and I was expressing things in my life. That was a beautiful day."

Landsman's (1968) exploration of the positive experience, "events which

transpire or which we bring about and which in retrospect are seen by the subject as 'good' (p. 1)" revealed that across all age groups, human relationships were the most responsible for eliciting descriptions of positive experiences. Even though magical experiences do not necessarily have to be positive, it seems that in both cases interpersonal interactions play an important role in facilitating them. Additionally, perhaps memorable experiences, whether positive or magical, are inspired by human interaction.








For 13 of the participants (19%), performance or winning was magical. For one man this happened while playing baseball:

Playing baseball, I predicted to my team that I was going to hit a homerun to win the game. I did this moments before I went to bat. I explained that
the field looked short today, and my teammate said, "Can you hit it that
far?" I said, "You'll see." I had never hit a homerun up to that point. I hit
it.

Another participant realized her career passion: I was in sixth grade performing a middle school play. I was standing on stage behind the curtain, waiting for it to open. As the huge bright lights beamed, the curtain slowly opened. Right at that moment I felt and told myself, "I could do this for the rest of my life; this is amazing." Even to this day when I'm discouraged or think someone else is better than me at
theater I think and relive that moment of passion, anticipation, excitement,
and love.

Once again, I found a similarity between the magical experience and Landsman's positive experience. With the exception of elementary age school children, Landsman (1968) found that earned success was the second most frequent facet of inspiring a positive experience. These similarities between the magical experience and the positive experience suggest that there is a certain type of elevating experience that is ingrained in the human experience and might be known by different names, such as a positive experience, a peak experience, or a magical experience. Interestingly, neither our modem American culture nor the field of psychology has thoroughly investigated the importance and ramifications of this phenomenon.

Interestingly, the magical experience associated with performance and winning bears similarity to Privette's (2000) peak performance concept. A peak performance is one that "is more efficient, more creative, more productive, and in some way better than one's habitual behavior (p. 162)." The similarity and overlap between the magical








experience and the peak performance suggests that the concepts are related. Specifically, a peak performance may arouse feelings of magic.

Another popular topic area that generated magical experiences was travel. Eleven participants (16%) related magical encounters while traveling. "The day I visited the Vatican," shared one participant, "I felt as if I was in a completely different time, long ago in the past." Another reported, "The experience of being in Paris alone and being able to do things and see things I really love was exhilarating."

Since the vast majority of the participants are recent high school graduates, some of their magical experiences related to the prom, homecoming, or graduation. Nine participants (13%) reported such experiences. "My graduation was filled with magic," recounted one participant, "My parents were separated all my life and I was living with my father. But on that day, my entire family was there which I never thought could ever happen again." Another participant told about her experience during grad night. "It was one of the last times ALL of my friends would get together before college... When I went home that evening, I had the biggest smile. I felt happy, but a different happy." One participant describes his experience during a senior ceremony assembly: "The assembly symbolizes the movement to the next stage of life for seniors. Moving up last year gave me a feeling of pride and accomplishment that was unexpected. I never knew how such a simple ceremony could be special."

Six participants (9%) related personal experiences that included cars, driving, or vehicular accidents. The importance of some of these experiences might be a function of the participants' relatively young age. "The most magical experience for me," reports one participant, "was when I bought my first new car. My parents had picked it out while








I was here at school with my suggestions and I saw it for the first time when I went home." One intriguing experience was reported by another participant: "I was sitting in the driver's side of my aunt's car... It was a sunny day. There was rain falling on our car for a few minutes, but all the cars passing or beside us were completely dry!" Three accounts in this category involved car accidents:

It was a horrible car accident. I was broad sided by a car and flipped my car. I remember being tossed around like a rag doll, it felt like time had
slowed down and I could see each individual roll. My passenger was
ejected from the car and I found him lying on the ground next to the car in a pool of blood. I honestly thought he was dead and he wasn't -4 MAGIC.
It was also magic because all I got was some cuts.


Five of the participants (7%) reported experiences that related to spirituality, God, or religion. "While I was in the emergency room," relates one participant, "by myself, with a neck brace, unable to see, I really felt God with me." Another participant in the category said the following: "I would have to say that the most magical experience in my life occurred when I was fifteen at a confirmation retreat. I was kneeling and I fell, and started hysterically crying because I felt God's presence for the first time."

Five of the participants (7%) shared magical experiences that took place in nature. One participants related that "the moon was full and the water next to the sideway splashed up against the shore sweetly. There were no people there but us and no sounds but the water and wind." Another participant reported the following:

I was sitting beside a beautiful, fresh water lake and there were so many stars it was just breathtaking. I was listening to music, and suddenly the
whole experience filled me-the music was so perfect as was the place. I stood up and walked into the water, ankle deep, still listening to the music.
I began dancing-and danced there for hours lost in the "magic" of
everything filled with beauty... It was the best night of my life, really
beyond words.








Table 4-2 describes the frequency of themes relating to how students felt

differently during their magical moments they experienced. Twenty-two participants (32%) reported being energized or euphoric. "I was thrilled," described one participant, "I felt lucky. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time." Another reported: "It was as if I was high just on life." Another shared: "I felt so alive and lit up; I felt like I was in my element."



Table 4-2. Frequencies of themes of feeling differently during a magical experience Theme Frequency Percentage Energized or euphoric 22 32 More Connected to others 12 17 Felt Special 10 14




Twelve participants (17%) described feeling more connected to others, to life, or to the world. "I remember feeling connected to my roots," reports one participant, "I knew that 2,000 some years ago people in my family of my faith were there praying as I was praying." Another participant explained, "I felt so happy and privileged to become so close to a group of people." One participant felt she was "intimate with life" and another realized, "I suddenly felt all the elements of science, math, all the abstract concepts, fit and form with the real world."

Ten participants (14%) said that they felt special. "I felt more special than usual," shared one participant. Another reported: "I felt special-like someone actually did care about me."

Table 4-3 describes the frequency of themes that emerged when the participants were asked to relate the impact that the magical experiences have had on them. Fourteen








participants (20%) reported increased clarity or awareness. "It has helped clear ideas inside my head," explained one participant. Another said, "It taught me that life is short and time truly is precious. Give all that is in your heart and never have any regrets."



Table 4-3. Frequencies of themes of the impact of magical experiences
Theme Frequency Percentage Increased clarity or awareness 14 20 Increased openness, less fear 11 16 Relationships improvement 10 14 Happier 7 10




Eleven participants (16%) reported increased openness and a reduction of fear. As one summed it up, "I am more spiritual, happier, and fear nothing. I know life is full of meaning." Another participant stated that, "It taught me to say what I feel." One participant reflected being "more open to trying new and less conservative things," and another sated that "it has opened up my mind and forever changed the way I think about the situation I am in or the things that I am taught."

Ten participants (14%) reported that their relationships with others improved. "I have grown much closer to my mother," shared one participant, "I am very sensitive to her feelings and try to talk to her as much as I can." Another participant talked about the effect the experience has had on her marriage: "The impact it has had is that our bonding is as intense as that moment."

Seven participants (10%) said that the magical experiences made them happier: "Afterwards, I learned to smile, something I didn't do much of before." Another participant reported, "It made me happy and remember the calm I can feel." One








participant remarked that the experience "made me feel content," and another said that "hope was borne and happiness too."

Table 4-4 describes participants' observations of what it was like to recall their original magical experience while participating in this study. When asked what is it like now to recall your memory of that original magical experience, 30 participants (43%) reported that they feel happy or excited: "it makes me smile," "it brings me so much happiness and joy", "it makes me happy", "I get a smile on my face; it makes me happy", "I get such a wonderful feeling inside recalling the magic I felt that day. I'm going to go home and call one of those friends!"



Table 4-4. Frequencies of themes of recalling the original magical experiences
Theme Frequency Percentage Happy or excited 30 43 Similar to reliving the original 16 23 Arouses a sense of magic 8 12




Sixteen participants (23%) reported that recalling the magical experience was almost like or just like reliving the original. One participant remarked that it is "almost like I'm back there, I wish I was." Another said, "It fills me again with what I felt that night-puts me back into that frame of mind, calms me." And yet another participant reported, "It stirs the same feeling from when I first realized I was in love, it's magical all over again! Thank you."

Eight participants (12%) remarked that remembering the original incident arouses a sense of magic: "A unique experience filled with magic", "it is so thrilling, refreshing, all together phenomenal", and "it makes me shine like a light bulb." One participant








added, "It brings goose bumps. It was cool." Similarly, another remarked, "It sends chills down my back"

Although the participants were from diverse cultural backgrounds, no interesting differences emerged in their responses with regard to ethnicity. The only difference I detected was in relation to gender. Specifically, women were more likely than men to recall magical moments involving a relationship and men were more likely than women to recall magical moments involving cars and sports. Interestingly, the content of their experience (as opposed to the context) was nearly identical, especially regarding their explanations of what it was like recalling the original magical event.

Overall, the magical experience is capable of occurring in diverse situations, sometimes completely unexpectedly: while driving, being in nature, engaging in a competition, or spending time with a loved one. Interestingly, the effect of the magical experience on the participant seems to be independent of the initiating event. In other words, regardless of whether the magical experience was due a romantic encounter, driving a fast car, or graduating from high school, the quality and effect of the experience appear to be similar. Perhaps there is a certain magical experience threshold, and when that limit gets tapped, the magical experience occurs, regardless of the event that initiated it.

Another interesting result is that the magical experience seems to perpetuate its

own magic, even beyond that caused by the initial event. Just like feeling depressed over an event can in itself perpetuate further depression, the magical experience seems to bring about a further degree of magic. Participants described their magical states chiefly as energizing, euphoric, feeling more connected, and feeling special. This in turn led to





42

increased clarity and awareness, a greater degree of openness, a reduction in fear, and an improvement of relationship quality. Magical experiences appear to generate and perpetuate psychological and personal growth.

Most interestingly, the process of recalling the magical event generated its own magic. Participants reported feeling happy, excited, as if they were reliving the original event. The magical experience is so powerful and meaningful, that even the mere recollection of it, even the derivative of the original, renews the feeling of magic.













CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

One of the most interesting observations I made from conducting this study is that virtually all participants were able to recall a moment or an experience that they felt was magical. Although in Western cultures people do not readily discuss magical experiences, especially as adults, the construct of a magical incident carries meaning and is readily retrieved. Specifically, most of the participants in this study found recalling their magical moments to be an enjoyable and even inspirational experience. Because psychologists are interested in improving the wellbeing of individuals, familiarity with magical experiences can aid researchers and practitioners in investigating the realm of growth and advancement.

Even though Woolley (2000) and Rosengren and Hickling (2000) attribute magical thinking chiefly to children, this study has demonstrated that magical experiencing remains accessible to adults. This apparent paradox needs to be further explored. Perhaps the distinction between magical reasoning (as opposed to logical reasoning) and magical experiencing is one that carries important ramifications: the former belongs to the realm of cognitive reasoning while the latter taps into the realm of psychological and spiritual well being. Maybe adults are less likely than children to resort to magical explanations of events, but this does not mean that they cannot recognize an event as carrying magical significance.

Future studies need to explore the differences and similarities between magical thinking and magical experiencing. There are still many questions that are left








unanswered: are children more likely than adults to engage in magical thinking as well as in magical experiencing? What is the commonality, if any, between magical thinking and magical experiencing? Is magical thinking a prerequisite to magical experiencing (like crawling is to walking)? Do children value magical experiences as much as do adults? Do children find magical thinking to be a helpful tool in enriching their understanding of reality?

Many of the powerful statements that surfaced from the participants emerged

from the answer to the last question on the survey, what was it like to recall the memory of the original magical experience? Most participants remarked that doing so made them happy or excited, in some way enabled them to tap into the magic of the original experience, or created its very own magic. Almost no participants reported the experience to be a melancholy one. This finding carries interesting ramifications in the realm of psychotherapy.

Implications for Psychotherapy

Therapists who are comfortable with utilizing a spiritual modality may wish to

ask their clients to recall magical experiences in order to tap into the power of the psyche or soul. The recollection of a magical experience could shed light on facets of the client's psyche or inner being. This technique might especially prove useful with clients who are unable to directly access their inner selves. If the client is able to relate a magical moment, he or she could examine this experience as, possibly, a time when the psyche shone through. For instance, a client who recollects a magical experience, say of watching a sunrise in nature, might describe the event as being inspirational or out-ofthis-world; the therapist can then ask the client to access the part of him or her that holds








and reveres this experience. As a result, the client might be able to better understand the nature of his or her inner self.

Therapists who subscribe to a feminist orientation can utilize their clients'

magical experiences in championing their clients' voice. Individuals who find it difficult to comfortably communicate their convictions might find it less intimidating start out by relating personal experiences that are more non-threatening in nature. The therapist can invite the client to expand on his or her experience: what it felt like, how it fully came about, what was learned from it. In turn, the client might be able to gain confidence in communicating his or her own narrative and own his or her personal experience. In this way, the client's voice can be championed in a comfortable and safe environment.

Counselors may also benefit from asking clients who appear to be sad or

depressed to engage in recollection of magical moments. Since participants in this study largely reported enjoying their experience of recalling events in their lives that were filled with magic, clients who experience low moments in their lives might become more energized by remembering times in their lives when something magical occurred. However, because this study did not explore the effect of recalling magical moments on depressed people, a possibility exists that depressed clients might find the experience of recounting those moments to be overly sentimental and saddening. Further studies need to be performed in order to more clearly understand the effect of the recollection of magical moments on people who feel sad or depressed.

In addition, therapists might find it helpful to ask their clients to recall magical moments when clients report feeling stuck or when they have nothing to say. More than simply serving as an icebreaker activity, the recounting of magical experiences can serve








as a means to open new doors of explorations. Clients may present information or themes that can lead to new insights as well as shed further light on previous exploration. From a psychodynamic perspective, this activity can be construed as an investigation to delve deeper into the realm of the unconscious.

Cultural Diversity

I also observed that the descriptions of the effects and recollections of the original magical experiences are nearly identical-regardless of cultural background and gender-across participants. This is so even though the context of the experiences varied tremendously with each account. In other words, the similarity among the effects and recollections of the magical moments seems to transcend gender and cultural specifics. One possible explanation for this observation is that magical experiences resonate with a person's core being, and that this inner psychic structure holds certain similarities among individuals that might even be universal. But regardless of the explanation for this phenomenon, the finding in itself sheds a very interesting light on multicultural sensitivity: what might be considered a shallow or irrelevant experience by one person in a given context can bring about an equal amount of excitement and meaning for another person in another context. For instance, for me driving a fast car carries little magical connotation. But if I recognize that for someone with a different personal disposition or life experience this event is as meaningful as a spiritual experience might be for me, I can more easily accept and be in tune with the diversity of occurrences that mark the domain of humanity. Participants from different cultures with different experiences shared similar feelings regarding the experiences that they defined as magical.

A corollary to the point above about multicultural awareness is that a human

similarity underlies cultural differences. My findings suggest that when we explore the








meaningfulness and impacts of magical experiences, the results are very similar. On the surface, one can rightfully note that the specific events that led to the magical experiences were very diverse. Upon further examination, though, one would find that the feelings and ramifications associated with the magical experience bear strong commonalities. To put it more poetically, although like the branches of a tree we might experience life from vastly different directions, the underlying root of the meaning of the events is nearly identical. This explanation, if accurate, complements multicultural diversity with a humanistic oneness. Further studies are needed in order to more fully investigate humanistic similarities that are shared by members of various cultural backgrounds.

Relationship to Other Experiences

Magical experiences also relate to other humanistic experiences. In the results

chapter I discussed the similarities among magical experiences, positive experiences, and peak performance. Perhaps all of the various nomenclatures-magical experience, positive experience, and peak performance-share a common factor that is associated with a universal human ability to flourish. Maybe this "X" factor can be elicited even when we refer to it by different names, yet the underlying quality itself might be more intriguing than the mere semantic label used to describe it. Metaphorically, I envision the separate wells of the magical experience, positive experience, peak performance, and various other ones all tapping into the same psychological source. This theory does not necessarily mean that each of the individual wells redundant, because each one is able to provide additional insights and data into the powerful force that underlies it. Magical experiences might not be isolated events but a means by which researches can gain insight into a greater psychological reservoir.








Further Implications and Limitations

The next step in the exploration of the magical experience and, perhaps even more importantly, its underlying source, is to explore the magical experiences of individuals in various fields. Specifically, this study investigated the magical experiences of undergraduate university students. Further studies can explore the results of therapists' accounts of magical experiences while conducting therapy, medical doctors' accounts of magical moments while caring for the sick, young children's versions of the magical experience, and elders' descriptions of magical moments throughout their lives. Commonalities as well as differences among these accounts would widen our understanding and appreciation of the experience of magic.

This study contains several limitations. Most participants were women. Perhaps the findings would be different if more men were surveyed. Additionally, the majority of participants identified themselves as being white. Even though a large number of the participants was multicultural, quite possibly the large number of White participants resulted in accounts that might not be fully representative of the diverse American culture. Moreover, this study utilized surveys as a means of collecting data. A personal interview might have provided additional insights into the full experience of magical moments.

Final Comments

Personally, conducting this study has been an amazing experience. From the

beginning, it opened doors and led me in directions that I did not anticipate. Creating my own magical scrapbook brought me closer to my own artistic creativity and a sense of magic, which is sadly so often absent from intellectual academia.








When I administered the questionnaire to the participants, I was surprised that all of them were able to complete the questions, even though I never defined the term "magic" for them or gave them any examples of what I meant. Almost everyone I had previously told about the study voiced concerns over the participants' ability to comprehend the task. Evidently, we sometimes tend to underestimate our fellow human beings' ability to connect to and express their own meaningful, magical experiences.

I was also surprised when many participants turned in the questionnaire with a

smile on their face. When I later read the immense power that the activity of recalling the magical experience has had on them, I was myself filled with a sense of magic and bliss. I felt privileged to be a viewer of their own magical encounters and, as the conductor of the study, someone who was able to allow them a moment to reconnect with that magic.

I hope that the magical aspect of science continues to be explored. There is no reason to view magic as antagonistic to science-to the contrary, magic adds flavor to science. I expect that the context of the magical events would be different, but that the underlying themes would remain similar. My heuristic investigation of the magical experience revealed facets of magic of which I was previously unaware. Before starting this study, I conceived magic to be an illusion, or at best a bygone product of excitement and thrill. As I learned more about magic, I have grown to respect its vast domain and the applicability to modem day life. Magic has the ability to rejuvenate. It brings about a child-like appreciation for life. Magical experiences are filled with wonder. Magic has the ability to heal the psyche and transform an individual.

I hope that psychologists are encouraged to infuse magic into their research,

teaching, and counseling. Our activities, whether in the lab, in the therapy office, or in






50

the classroom, offer an opportunity to establish new magical moments for ourselves and for those with whom we come in contact. My study merely scratched the surface of the realm of magical experiences. I hope that it also serves as a door opener to further investigation. If our field of study can unite science and magic then we could substantially enhance our ability to transform people's lives.













APPENDIX A
SAMPLE QUESTIONNAIRE

Please answer the following questions. Your responses will be kept completely

confidential and will be kept separate from any documents that might identify you. There are no right or wrong answers. Please feel free to write and expand as much as you would like. Thank you in advance!

1. Think of a special or exciting experience in your life that you felt was magicala unique moment or event that was for you filled with magic. This experience can be from any time in your life. Please tell me about this experience.

Grad night. It was one of the last times ALL of my friends would get together before college. We spent the whole day talking, laughing and just having fun. When I went home that evening, I had the biggest smile. I felt happy, but a different happy

2. How did you feel differently during this experience?

Time had slowed down, it was as if I was high just on life.

3. What impact has this experience had on your life?

I just know that I have good friends & the happiest time of my life.

4. What is it like now to recall your memory of that original magical experience?

I get a smile on my face and remembering us spending 15 hours laughing and enjoying our freedom. It makes me happy.













APPENDIX B
INFORMED CONSENT AGREEMENT Protocol Title: The Lived Experience of Magical Moments. 2002-589

Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study.

The purpose of this study: The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of magical, enthralling moments in people's lives.

What you will be asked to do in the study: You will complete a questionnaire.

Time required: 30 minutes.

Risks and benefits: There are no anticipated risks. There are no direct benefits to you for participating during this study.

Compensation: There is no financial compensation for participating in this study.

Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by

law. Your information will be assigned a code number. The list connecting your name to this number will be kept in a locked file in my faculty supervisor's office. When the study is completed and the data have been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report.

Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating.

Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence.








Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Rom Brafinan, Graduate Student, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 32611. Telephone: (352) 392-0601.

Franz Epting, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 32611. Telephone: (352) 392-0601.

Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; ph 392-0433.

Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description.

Participant:

Date:

Principal Investigator:

Date:













APPENDIX C
IMMERSION PHASE

As part of my immersion phase, I kept a working scrapbook that included creative and artistic reflections on various themes of magic. The purpose of the scrapbook was to immerse myself in experiences relating to magic. The following pages are samples from my scrapbook about my explorations of magical themes.







~jfE(


di


wrIp


Figure C-1. What is real?


40


4


4-ott*
OJA+


IF, -








To (be.s~r M91c iTToq 4v -foej- #h~~* ~ de ferdv1e +4tl AOW cr4 iAlwi C~ffl44f IC1.~ 0Q
on -.


144-I f (t" m e ~ 4 ifr fO 4MR, all q A .


& cLA J-A e,4A ;1 X- ;t jA-(- ~
17~ ~t


llgi- veA/j 6ffy


Tot qAWM/O4.f


I w4.4 91

P/?fs7in ,


AaJ,: dviv,,4


Figure C-2. Harmony























4/eie 9zeu, a,4 il eve ewdA 'jc u~ wc

Lov , fj 41~ p~r ~




You~g7 teScae; AJI infrue s-ociy? -R1.




foL'er o, -f fbc meA 1, i't& ,,, c bi4rfls mo re ,koerfuAiy Q*11 f j5 tk7 1y ire C-3. Spells













APPENDIX D
ILLUMINATION PHASE

As part of my illumination phase, I became more and more aware of the construct of magic. Specifically, magic can be used to gain an interesting perspective on personality theory. Interestingly, although Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner might not have shared many similar ideologies, they were both very critical of the concept of magic. Each viewed magic as an illusion that does not belong in the field of psychology.

On the other end of the spectrum, Carl Jung and Abraham Maslow both felt that the construct of magic was essential to our understanding of psychology. Although Jung was more psychodynamic in his orientation and Maslow was one of the founders of the humanistic movement, one of their core similarities was their appreciation of the element of magic.

This conceptualization of the construct of magic among personality theorists not only provided me with an additional dimension with which to better understand the theorists, but it proved extremely helpful in my teaching of the Introduction to Personality course. Students were more easily able to grasp the similarities and differences among the theorists. In addition to learning about the traditional major forces of psychology, students were also able to perceive the theorists along another dimension.













APPENDIX E
EXPLICATION PHASE

During the explication phase, I became more sensitive to the lack of magic in our modem-day culture. I was reminded of the movie Koyaanisqatsi, which highlights the mechanistic and monotonous way of life and juxtaposes them with indigenous perspectives. The word "koyaanisqatsi" means crazy life and life out of balance in the Hopi language. I understood that my research project was going against the grain of the koyaanisqatsi culture. I was asking participants to get in touch with memories of magical experiences, thus allowing them to focus and appreciate their own magic.

I was pleasantly surprised that although we live in a culture that is largely removed from, or even antagonistic to, magical experiences, every single participant was able to tap into a memory that was magical. Although dormant, the power of magic is still relatively accessible.














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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Rom Brafman was bom in Israel right before the 1973 war. He moved to the United States with his family when he was 11. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. He enrolled in the Counseling Program at the University of Florida in 2000. Rom is a proponent of the humanistic approach to psychotherapy and looks forward to play an active role in reintegrating the construct of the psyche into the field of psychology.








I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philoso


/ 'ranz Epti h irman Profess � PsychCoogy/-'I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


Rob .Ziller
Professor of Psychology

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


David Suchman
Professor of Psychology

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


Sheldon Isenberg
Associate Professor of Religion


This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of
Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


August, 2005
Dean, Graduate School




Full Text

PAGE 1

THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF MAGICAL MOMENTS: A HEURISTIC EXPLORATION By ROM BRAFMAN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2005

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Dr. Franz R. Epting for agreeing to serve as my advisor and dissertation committee chair. I am grateflil for his unwavering support throughout this process. Dr. Epting's consistent encouragement and guidance were instrumental in the undertaking and completion of this dissertation. I am also indebted to the esteemed members of my committee, Dr. Robert Ziller, Dr. David Suchman, and Dr. Sheldon (Shaya) Isenberg. Their deep commitment to humanistic research has allowed me to pursue my interests on the subject matter of magical experiences and to complete this dissertation project. Throughout my tenure as a graduate student, my committee members have repeatedly made themselves available and bent over backwards to accommodate my needs. I am not exaggerating in stating that without them, I would not have been able to accomplish this research project. ii

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii LIST OF TABLES v LIST OF FIGURES vi ABSTRACT vii INTRODUCTION 1 The Exploration of Magic 1 Personal Experiences and Reflections on Magic 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE 9 METHODOLOGY 22 Participants 22 Instruments 22 Procedure 23 An Introduction to the Heuristic Method 23 Phases in the Heuristic Method 29 RESULTS 33 DISCUSSION 43 Implications for Psychotherapy 44 Cultural Diversity 46 Relationship to Other Experiences 47 Further Implications and Limitations 48 Final Comments 48 SAMPLE QUESTIONNAIRE 51 INFORMED CONSENT AGREEMENT 52 IMMERSION PHASE 54 iii

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ILLUMINATION PHASE 58 EXPLICATION PHASE 59 LIST OF REFERENCES 60 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 64 iv

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LIST OF TABLES Table page Table 4-1 . Frequencies of themes of magical experiences 33 Table 4-2. Frequencies of themes of feeling differently during a magical experience ....38 Table 4-3. Frequencies of themes of the impact of magical experiences 39 ! Table 4-4. Frequencies of themes of recalling the original magical experiences 40 V

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure page C-1. What is real? 55 ? C-2. Harmony 56 3 C-3. Spells 57 vi

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF MAGICAL MOMENTS: A HEURISTIC EXPLORATION By Rom Brafman August, 2005 Chair: Franz Epting Major Department: Psychology This study examined the lived experience of magical moments, utilizing a heuristic, qualitative method. It compared the historical perceptions of magic in the field of psychology and its relevance to science. The study also examined 70 questionnaires from university students describing magical experiences and their effects on them. The investigation revealed that magical experiences are related to constructs of love, excitement, healthy human relationships, and healing. The study also investigated similarities among magical experiences, positive experiences, and peak performances. vii

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The Exploration of Magic This study has developed and matured in many intriguing ways. At the onset, even before I knew the precise subject matter I wanted to explore, I was attracted to Clark Moustakas' heuristic methodology (1967). The heuristic approach allows a scientist to inspect, analyze, and pore over a given domain of inquiry. This process involves a detailed and focused examination that allows the investigator to intimately delve into a phenomenon in order to seek insights that illuminate the subject matter. For me, the most thrilling aspect of the heuristic methodology is the magical invitation to explore science to its fullest depth. What better subject to examine then, I came to realize, than magic itself? The purpose of this study is to explore the experience of magical moments in people's lives. Once I decided to investigate the topic of magic, I began to actively notice instances when the words "magic" and "magical" were used in linguistic discourses all around me. Interestingly, I observed that the term magic is used quite commonly, and in diverse settings: from the name of a radio station, to a corporate motto, to a description of an inspirational personal account, magic manifests a reoccurring and enduring presence in our daily lives. When I told people that I was working on my dissertation and they asked me what it was about, and they found out that it was about magic, most of them were surprised. Many individuals, after their initial surprise — once they made sure that they actually did 1

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2 indeed hear me correctly, that I am writing a psychological dissertation on the experience of magic — asked me to define magic. A dissertation on magic seems so open-ended, so exploratory, that it lacks a rigid formality that has unfortimately become associated with scientific examination. People would have been less surprised if I had told them I was writing my dissertation on neurobiological connections, rats' mating behavior, couples' arguing patterns, or memory loss than on the subject of the experience of magic. I might have put some people at ease if 1 had answered, falsely, that I define magic as an illusory process as Wohl and Enzle (2002) did. Or I could have furnished a satisfactory response by explaining that I am looking at the psychological processes involved in people's perceptions of magic tricks. But these are not my areas of interests. I am not looking to control magic, define it, or dissect it. I am looking to explore the experience of magic in a magical way. Employing a heuristic qualitative method approach to the exploration of the experience of magic, I have examined the experiences of 70 individuals from various cultural backgrounds in order to illuminate themes and connections in occurrences of magic in people's lives. As part of this research project, 1 have also examined my own exploration of magic in order to facilitate my openness to the process. 1 used both of these paths to arrive at meanings and cormotations of magic. Personal Experiences and Reflections on Magic For the past two years, since beginning work on this project, I have become increasingly more attuned to the presence of magic in my life. I have come to realize that magic for me started even before I was bom. The forces that brought my parents together, the conditions that allowed a successfial birth, all of these are magical. But even on a grander scale, the people who fought for the survival of the Jewish people and the

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3 establishment of the State of Israel, against all odds, and before that the successful evolutionary emergence of humans, and before that the manifestation of life — all of these allowed for my eventual existence. Any deviation along that process, of millions and millions of years, even the most minute or trivial change, could have meant a completely different existence — or none at all. It is because of magic that I am here. The events in my life that lined themselves up so that in this very point in time I am writing about magic — that is magical. I was bom in Israel six months prior to the Yom Kippur war that came dangerously close to ending my life. There are people who fought to save my life, people who sacrificed their ovra life, so I can be here living my life. They successfiilly thwarted an invasion that was only several miles away from potentially ending my life. Their efforts and ultimate success to once again defy the odds are magic. Who could have predicted, on that April night in 1973 that one day, 31 years later, I would be using the English language to communicate my thoughts on the experience of magic in the field of psychology? The way everything came together to make it happen is magic. If I had arrived at the University of Florida only a year later, I would not have been able to assemble a committee that would support my exploration; only a year later and this magic project would have had to be deferred, perhaps indefinitely. All forces in the universe that came together to make it happen, and to continue to make it happen, forces that I might never fully know of or understand, or never completely recognize the various impacts that they have on my life, all those are magical. Life itself is magical. With all our technological advancement and scientific knowledge, we still cannot explain what is it that breathes life into an otherwise

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inanimate object. The ability to make life a magical experience and to be aware of that magic — the magical awareness of magic — is magic in its own right. And the ability to turn away from magic, to insist that nothing is magical, even that option in such a vast array of possibilities, this non-possibility, is magic. The process of doing psychotherapy is magical. It cannot be fully logically fathomed. The healing that happens, for all parties, stemming from presence, is in itself a magical construct. The results that occur, the transformation, the awakenings, they are all magical. Psychologists have spent decades in the quixotic search for the specific elements that make psychotherapy work (Wampold, 2000), but all they were able to find is the circular explanation that therapy is what makes therapy work, it is the relationship, the bond, the total package, that leads to success. In other words, it is a type of magic. For many lay people, and even, unfortunately, for too many psychologists, the process and prospect of conducting psychotherapy are enervating. Counseling, from that perspective, is comprised of complaints that need to be attended to, broken individuals who need to be fixed, and illnesses that need to be diagnosed and remedied. This mechanistic model strips the magic out of therapy. Without magic, therapy is a banal process, similar to a chore that needs to be completed but that carries no special value. There is nothing fiin about listening to a so-called depressed person, unless the therapist is cognizant of the potential for and existence of magic. Systems of psychotherapy that do not embrace magic rob the practitioner and the client from the frill possibility of growth and healing. Magic makes the process of psychotherapy sacred, or as Leitner, Faidely, and Celentana (2003) refer to it, an encounter of reverence. There is a different feel to

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5 therapy, quality therapy, that makes it unique from other processes. That quality is magic. Like a good musical performer who makes the concert experience more special and magical than a compact disc could ever hope to achieve, a healing therapist brings words to life, so that the words touch the psyche. When the psyche is touched, magic does the work of healing. In this aspect, a successful psychologist is a magician. If I, as a therapist, walk out of a therapy session the exact same person that I walked into it, then 1 did not conduct therapy. Quality therapy, magical therapy, is always transforming. The space comes alive. There is a recognizable shift in an office after a therapy session is conducted. Without magic, conducting psychotherapy becomes a heavy burden that leads to burnout. With magic, it becomes a blessing. Teaching a course is similar to conducting psychotherapy in that magic makes the difference. As a student, I have rarely experienced classes that were magical. Starting in elementary school, most instructors were more similar to factory supervisors than to magicians. The notable exceptions made learning a sublime event. In fourth grade, I took a course about creative expression. I do not remember anything that happened during the first class meeting, but I remember that my mother described my face, right after I walked out of that class, as radiating. The teacher inspired magic. I felt that she was real. She did not try to box us in or to teach at us; rather, she invited us to be magical. The best compliment that I can receive as an instructor is that the course I taught was magical. Sadly, most students I have encountered have come to accept the factory model of teaching as standard. When I ask students to incorporate creativity into their work, many of them are taken aback and ask me what do I mean by creativity or how

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6 they can be creative. I wonder what feedback I would receive if I asked students to make their assignments magical. I enjoy teaching, even when I have taught the same subject numerous times previously. Teaching is not chiefly about the passing on of information but rather about the opportunity to awaken and enliven magic in students and, in return, in myself I am not, and will probably never be able to, communicate magically with all students, but when the magic happens, the process of transformation ensues. In Ancient Greek, the word used for butterfly was psyche. The metamorphosis of the regeneration of life signifies the magical renewal of the human psyche. That process is a manifestation of magic. The commonality between conducting psychotherapy and teaching is that both modes have the potential to act as vehicles to reach the psyche. I find that this magical process can unfold properly only when I act out of love. Love is the fuel that allows the magic of the psyche to blossom. The interaction among love, magic, and psyche provides the power to transcend and overcome limits. The effect is exponential in that a little magic begets even greater magic that results in barriers exploding and new levels reached. One of my favorite questions to ask clients after a couple of months in therapy, especially when they do not seem to fully appreciate their progress, is what would they have said if I had told them during our first meeting that in only a couple of months they would be where they are today? The answer is almost always, "I would say that you were crazy." The element of surprise in the progress is due to magic. Magic transcends the logical, rational expectations that usually define our reality.

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7 Unfortunately, I usually do not honor magic. I usually dismiss it or conveniently assimilate it into the rational realm. To the extent that I am aware of my magic, I can become aware of my full power. The most powerfiil classroom activities and clinical interventions in therapy are inspired by a sense of magic. My rational side oftentimes objects vehemently. During the first day of the Introduction to Humanistic Psychology courses that I have taught, for example, I force myself to carry out a non-rational activity: I provide those students who are interested with the opportunity to close their eyes and envision an inner flame. I ask them to notice the color and size of the flame. I then ask them to ask the flame what it says to them and write it down. Conducting this activity makes me feel vulnerable. I am no longer protected by convention, by logic, by rational thought. I risk becoming cast aside as weird and crazy. At the same time, I open a door of opportunity that adds an element of magic to the course. Many students, initially pessimistic about this unusual activity, become amazed themselves by what they were able to produce as a result of writing down their personal discourse with their inner flame. If my psyche is my core and that core is magical, then I am really all about magic. When I am enveloped in magic, I can most easily be myself My magic transcends rational logic. When I first attempted to capture a part of its essence, I came up with this flow of words that resonated magic to me: Magical magic engulfing life at an angelic moment mesmerizing life in a rhythm of magic in touch with a manifesting beauty of magic and meaning and grand movements of stillness in magic of life in immeasurable magnitudes of magnificent memories manifesting in magical love in magic of me. This dance of words is usually out of step with conventional scientific lingo. But there is no reason that science and magic need to be separated. A science without magic

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8 is a dead corpus. When physicists stumbled upon the behaviors of quantum particles, they had to abandon sole reliance on the classical linear and rational paradigm. Viewed from a certain angle, quantum mechanics appears paradoxical and random. Albert Einstein rejected the theory of quantum physics, saying that he does not believe that God plays dice with the universe. Perhaps God is performing magic on the universe. In that magic, everything is relative, all of the old rules that supposedly defined our existence have a statistical probability of being broken: light particles behave like waves, time appears to slow down, the universe itself seems to have a consciousness. As rational as we attempt to be during waking life, dreams have a magical essence to them, connecting us with magical ways that we oftentimes abandon. But even waking life is filled with magic. There is something magical about producing words. Ink on paper is even amazing. The most powerfiil magic emanates from love. My psyche is made up of magical love. When love hits the ocean of life, magic is the waves rippling to the rhythm of love. Magic creates the ability for love to reverberate back onto itself to create the waves of resounding harmony. If the Big Bang is love, then magic is the flowing energy and matter of the universe. Magic rewrites destiny. The understanding of love is magic. The gratitude for magic is love. The psyche is a dance of loving magic. This study utilizes a heuristic, qualitative methodology to explore the realm of magical experiences, as defined by the participants. My own experience with the exploration will be interwoven with my examination of my participants' data. Themes, patterns, and insights into the phenomenon of magical experiencing will be revealed.

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CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE The topic of magic has been embedded in the field of psychology for over a century. In the beginning stages of psychology, magic imposed at least an implicit threat to the newly emerging science of psychology: Goldenweiser (1919) pointed out that during the years of 1891-1918, Western thinkers characterized magic as an anti-social force. Magic was seen as primitive, a precursor to religion. This Eurocentric characterization places magic as a devalued and dangerous element to civilized, scientific studies. Frost (1914) sought to identify psychology as a science and hence rid it of the troubling element of consciousness. "The whole conception of a mental, extraphysiological experience appears only as a pleasant speculation for the philosopher to play with; but one that becomes useless, if not misleading, for the teaching of psychology as a science" (p. 208). If consciousness is antithetical to science, surely magic does not fare much better. McClelland (1924), although respectful of the mystical tradition, paired magic with vulgarity. It seems then that even on a semantic level, magic was viewed as a dreadful and depraved component of the human condition. Bode (1914) felt that the essence of psychology as a science needs to be of an objective and experimental character. He criticized psychology's "wallow of subjectivism" (p. 50). He advocated that "we get rid of the obscurities and ambiguities which are inherent in the current [psychological] concepfions" (p.59). Watson (1913) went so far as to say that the scientific theoretical goal of psychology is prediction and control. Bawden (1910) wished to reduce psychology to a science that centers around the

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10 study of motor behavior. Magic connotes an element of uncertainty and randomness — thus going against the orthodox scientific grain of psychology. Magic was also criticized for its primitive connotation. Coriat (1923) asked, "What is magic but the aspects of suggestion in undeveloped minds?" (p. 258) He linked such magical thinking to neurotic symptoms that appear irrational and illogical. Leuba (1909) identified magic with coercive behavior and even goes as far as stating that this characterization identifies the uniqueness of humans from all other animals. He viewed science as distinct from magic and believes that the field of psychology has drawn nothing from it. He also stated that religion and mechanical behavior distinguish civilized people from the primitive, who reside in the realm of magic: "As one ascends from the lowest stages of culture, magic gradually loses official recognition" (p. 109). He defined the process of magic as "timewasting, often costly and painfiil ceremonies for results rarely secured" (p. 109) and equated magic with "the gambler's method of securing luck" (p. 111). Swanton (1924) suggested that magic is related to primitive practices. Camcross (1926) elaborated on the magic-primitive connection by adding that this mode resembles infantile thinking. Magic is devalued as overly-simplistic and outdated, placed on the opposite pole of advanced, scientific thought. Bernard (1927) identified an evolutionary progress from magic to science, such that magic impedes humans' abilities to best fimction in our environments. "The primitive method of asserting our wills over those of others, to speak in subjective or affective attitudinal terminology, is that of magic" (p.63). His solution was to "[extend] naturalistic and mechanistic principles of explanation to all phenomena, including human behavior" (p.70).

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11 Since magic is associated with primitive and childish characteristics, illogical tendencies that stand in the way of scientific and rational progress, no wonder then, as White (1928) pointed, that psychologists have characterized schizophrenics as exhibiting magical speech. In the eyes of the orthodox psychologist, the schizophrenic individual could be seen as threatening because she or he is operating under a non-scientific, unintelligible, magical set of tenets. Through the association with primitive and infantile behaviors and tendencies, the schizophrenic individual then presents a threat to the Western conceptualization of order, advancement, and rigidity. Freud (1928) argued that religion and science are mortal enemies. The title of his work. Future of an Illusion, amplifies the tension and fear that lies at the heart of the thought of the possibility of unifying elements of magic with elements of science. Freud explained that religion and magic serve to keep humanity boxed in an ignorant and unenlightened awareness of reality. He advocated a distancing from magic and spirituality in order to best advance the enterprise of science. Whitebook (2002) pointed out that Freud's theory, paradoxically, is itself based on many so-called magical tenets that defy objective, scientific examination. Not everyone in the field of psychology, though, was opposed to the force of magic. Smith (1930) accepted the relevance of scientific reality, but also explained that irrational components hold their ovm valid truths. Magic can open the doors to accessing information that is unattainable using more rational, logical methods. Smith pointed that knowledge of magic can oftentimes be explored through non-verbal, symbolic mediums. Jung (1960) criticized psychology for being too unbalanced in favor of scientific objectivity: "No value exists unless founded on a so-called fact" (p. 339). Jung attributed

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12 this disturbing phenomenon to "a bias, an emotional tendency that works upon weaker minds, through the unconscious, with an overwhelming force of suggestion" (p. 340). In other words, Jung explained our dismissal of magical experiencing as a psychological handicap, an inability to engage in a balanced view of reality. Jung said that as a result of our one-dimensional thinking we have arrived at "a psychology without the psyche" (p. 343). Without realization and appreciation of the spiritual and magical elements, the psyche becomes "nothing but a product of biochemical processes" (p. 344). Jung observed that indigenous cultures view magic and the psyche as essential elements of life, "something objective, self-subsistent, and living its own life" (p.346). Magic is not a subjective illusion but rather an objective reality. Jung warned that practicing psychotherapy without an awareness of magic could be extremely detrimental: "More than a few suicides in the course of psychotherapeutic treatment are to be laid at the door of such mistakes" (p.352). Jung blamed the repression of magic on Western culture's intolerance of the unconscious realm. Jimg (1963) related a meaningful encounter that he had with a Native American leader, Ochwiay Biano. Jung described how the indigenous leader perceives the magicless White people and then Jung described his own reaction to the powerful message: ". . . [White people's] eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are mad." I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad. "They say that they think with their heads," he replied. "Why of course. What do you think with?" I asked him in surprise. "We think here," he said, indicating his heart.

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13 I fell into a long meditation. For the first time in my life, so it seems to me, someone had drawn for me a picture of the real white man . . . This [American] Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind. I felt rising within me like a shapeless mist something unknown and yet deeply familiar, (p. 248) Jung remarked upon reflection on these events that "[Western] knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythic world in which we were once at home by right of birth" (p.352). To separate magic from our being is not only to act injuriously; by ignoring magic we are operating within a psychology that is blind to its very essence, its psyche, its power. Castaneda (1968) reached similar conclusions to those of Jung. Castaneda spent several years learning about, what he called, sorcery from indigenous people in Mexico. His anthropological ventures allowed him to gain insights into the practices and views of native people. Castaneda questioned the parameters of reality, realizing that magic and power also reside in what most modem Americans perceive to be fantasy or illusion. He learned that the tools that are often used to substantiate reality, namely the senses and logic, oftentimes lead to erroneous perceptions, and that reality is something that needed to be felt and intuited. Greenwood (2000) concurred with Castaneda' s overall premise. He investigated pagan magical rituals and concluded that magic allows individuals to gain knowledge from another dimension, or an otherworld. This method of deriving knowledge, argued Greenwood, is a valid scientific undertaking. Similarly, Krippner and Achterberg (2000) pointed that Western culture is extremist in its heavy reliance of physical medicine to account for himian health: in the West and other parts of the world under Western influence, allopathic biomedicine has become the dominant curative paradigm, bolstered by political, economic, and legal institutions. As a result, reported healing behaviors and experiences that deviate from this

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14 paradigm are regarded as anomalous, that is, at variance with biomedical diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Indeed, the word healing is rarely mentioned within the context of the biomedical model, (p.354) Tambiah (1990) asserted that rationality and relativism can coexist without expunging the validity of one another. According to Tambiah, a logical explanation of a phenomenon does not negate that others can comprehend the same event as being magical. Science and magic, therefore, need not be opposites. Both rational and magical paradigms offer their own unique insights. Specifically, Horton (1997) investigated the construct of magic in indigenous African cultures. He criticized the orthodox separation between magic and religion, and proposed that researchers focus on the overlap between magic and science. Cunningham (1999) added that the mainstream approach to scientific inquiry is androcentric; its bias toward hard logic and facts belies its ability to gain knowledge beyond a limited set of information. Curmingham explained that scientists who adhered to rigid scientific norms have ended up censoring and limiting the full exploration of the realm of magic. Maslow (1967) ushered in the third force, humanistic paradigm that not only was tolerable of magic but also celebrated it. Maslow illuminated the magic in various aspects of human life, such as in love. Magical love, or what Maslow called "Beinglove," is described as a love that "grows greater rather than disappearing. It is intrinsically enjoyable. It is end rather than means" (p. 48). Maslow called the experience of Being-love, mystical. This connotes a spiritual and magical encounter. This phenomenon cannot be fully or adequately captured by intellectual or logical analysis alone. There is a certain irrational or magical component to its essence. Maslow

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15 describes it as being "too wonderful" (p.98). "There is a special flavor of wonder, of awe, of reverence, of humility and surrender" (p.98). Another one of Maslow's investigations relating to the magical experience is the peak experience. Maslow described these as "happiest moments, ecstatic moments, moments of rapture" (p. 83). The peak experience has also been described as "intense joy or ecstasy that stands out perceptually and cognitively among other experiences" (p. 161) (Privette, 2000). Individuals who have gone through a peak experience might also describe the event as being magical. But the magical experience might not necessarily be one of intensity, or even joyful. More than a century after the field of psychology first tackled the subject of magic, the word with its many connotations continues to appear in recent psychological studies. However, the subject of magic is by no means a fixed construct in psychology; it is still used in many varied fashions, oftentimes in diametrically opposing ways. Magic is still used by certain psychologists in similar ways to the way that it was used in the early 1900's, as a force that rivals science. Wohl and Enzle (2002) equated magic with illusory control in games of pure chance. In this sense, magic is still seen as an explanatory fiction used as a filler to account for phenomena that are random. In other words, magic is viewed as something that is used in an uniformed, uneducated way by individuals who are searching for an explanation, any explanation, to describe away uncertainty. They posed that science is the educated antidote to magic. Specifically, Wohl and Enzle provided participants with an opportunity to exert control over picking lottery numbers versus having a number picked for them by one of the researchers. Participants overwhelmingly preferred to

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16 make their own selection, although mathematically they were not improving their odds. Wohl and Enzle attributed this behavior to a non-rational, magical belief system: "our general hypothesis is that people believe that they have a personal quality of luck that can be used to control logically uncontrollable games of chance" (p. 1390). In a similar vain, Odendaal (2000) explored whether animal-assisted therapy is magic or medicine. He states that "it is possible that animal-assisted therapy was not generally accepted by physicians as a valid medical approach because it was seen as a placebo effect" (p. 279). The false dichotomy between magic and medicine, perhaps even on the semantic level, points once again to the Eurocentric notion that we need to transcend magic in order to achieve solid scientific progress. Subbotsky and Quinteros (2002) examined rational and magical beliefs in Britain and in Mexico. Once again we see a dichotomy between magic and rational ways of approaching the world, assuming that magic does not have its own rationale or that rational thinking cannot be magical. Furthermore, Subbotsky and Quinteros came up with an ethnocentric hypothesis, stating that Mexicans are more likely to think magically compared to the English. "The assumption was based on the fact that in a Western culture an individual is encouraged (by school education, media, art, interpersonal communication and other cultural impacts) to believe that science is the only way to account for natural events, whereas in a nonWestern society the 'pressure' of scientific rationality on an individual is substantially less evident— due to the lack of formal scientific education and the abundance of pre-Christian magical beliefs and superstitions" (p. 520).

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17 Interestingly, the hypothesis that Mexicans were more Hkely to resort to magical beliefs than were the English was not fUUy supported. Subbotsky and Quinteros (2002) found that although British individuals were more likely to identify with rational explanations than were Mexican individuals, participants of both cultures were equally likely to engage in magical explanations when encountered with a seemingly unexplainable phenomenon. In other words, even though British participants are more likely to think of themselves as thinking rationally, when they are faced with an actual situation, they are as likely as Mexican participants to use magical explanations for mysterious phenomena. Specifically, Subbotsky and Quinteros (2002) used a wooden box to demonstrate an unusual event that looked like an inexplicable change in a physical object which had been placed inside the box (i.e. a new plastic card placed in the box became cut in three places or badly scratched as if by a sharp nail). A specially constructed lid and a system of magnets hidden in the walls of the box allowed the box to be manipulated (i.e. turned upside down or shaken) without revealing the secret of the trick (the double bottom). A physical device that produced light and sound effects when switched on was also available. The device could be connected or discoimected from the wooden box via a wire. (p. 526) In one condition, Subbotsky and Quinteros used the light and sound producing physical device as a scientific explanation to account for the alterations to the card. In the other condition, Subbotsky and Quinteros did not use the physical device but instead uttered a spell as a magical explanation to account for the alterations to the card. They found that although the British participants were more amenable to believe the scientific account, participants fi"om both cultures were equally reluctant to place a valuable possession in the box, regardless of the scientific or magical explanation condition. One implication of

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18 Subbotsky and Quinteros' study is that even after years of intellectualization and industrialization, magic is still a strong cross-cultural force among humans. Perhaps magic is so engrained into the human condition that even though it can be rationalized away, it still manifests itself in times where logic seems to fail us. Interestingly, Miner (1956), in his iconoclastic challenge to the notion that modem civilizations contain highly rational beings, described American culture as filled with "magic-ridden people" (p. 507). Employing an ironic style, Miner depicted American society has operating on numerous primitive-seeming practices. For instance, Miner chose to describe the bathroom medicine cabinet as a chest containing "the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live ... As these magical materials are specific for certain ills, and the real or imagined maladies of the people are many, the charm-box is usually fiill to overflowing" (p.504). Similarly, doctors are described as magical practitioners who "insert magic wands in the supplicant's mouth or force him [or her] to eat substances which are supposed to be healing" (p. 506). Psychologists do not escape Miner's wrath; he refers to them as "witchdoctors" (p.507). Unfortunately, even recently, psychologists have equated magic with undesirable or harmful occurrences. Evans, Milianak and Medeiros (2002) made a frightening claim that magical beliefs in children correlate to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Evans, et al. based their findings on observations of children and reports of their behaviors that were gathered by the children's parents. "Results indicated that children's rituals and compulsions were positively related to their magical beliefs, and inversely related to their uses of concrete, physical explanations to describe various phenomena" (p. 43).

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19 Specifically, Evans, et al. observed that "children's beliefs in the power of wishes were positively associated with their ritualistic, compulsive-like behaviors" (p. 5 7). The scary aspect of this research is that what is identified and labeled as obsessive-compulsive behavior could actually be non-mainstream behavior that might be, under certain conditions, extremely productive, or in the very least not harmful, to the child. Researchers like Evans, et al. are in danger of using circular logic to bolster a type of intellectual witch-hunt against magic. Fortvmately, not all modem psychologists take an antagonistic position against magic. Masten (2001) spoke of ordinary magic, a person's natxiral penchant for resilience and survival to thrive even in unfavorable conditions: "Resilience does not come from rare and special qualities, but from the everyday magic of ordinary, normative human resources in the minds, brains, and bodies of children, in their families and relationships, and in their communities" (p.228). Masten viewed the human ability to endure and to heal as being magical and does not see the need to explain away this phenomenon with purely scientific explanations. Similarly, Gilroy (2001) discovered that magic gave him a highly non-threatening, therapeutic way to interact with greater numbers of children. He found that children tend to be open and receptive to magic and that by using magic the psychologist can facilitate a more open, egalitarian relationship with otherwise resisting children. In a similar vein, Kubovy (2003) explained that the pleasures of the mind involve emotions and that this state can be characterized as being magical. One of the emerging new fields in psychology is the exploration of magic in children. Woolley (2000) stated that children under five believe in magical wishing. In

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20 other words, young children's reaUty is such that they beUeve that their wishes affect the events in the world. Wolley explained that after age five, children turn to prayer. Rosengren and Hickling (2000), however, differentiated magic from religion: they do not see magic as simply a lack of cognitive complexity but rather an application of a specific type of causal reasoning that involves reference to specific powers that cannot be fully fathomed with traditional logic. Furthermore, cultural views of magic and religion interplay with a child's conceptualization of the world. Rosengren and Hickling also presented evidence that magical reasoning emerges in the fourth year of life, peaks at around age five, and then almost vanishes when children are assimilated into the scientific school training. Thus, children oftentimes lose their ability to view the world magically as they grow older. Formal education tends to destroy and slay children's tendencies of magical thinking. One of the most promising articles about magic is Nemeroff and Rozin's (2000) work. They concurred with the classical psychological definitions of magic as a quality that "does not make sense in terms of contemporary understandings of science, and . . . typically relies on subjective evidence and involves a conflation of internal and external worlds" (p.2). But Nemeroff and Rozin did not categorically reject magic or view it as an inferior element: "We discard the notion of an evolutionary sequence from magic-toreligion-to-science" (p.2). They recognized the interrelatedness between science and magic: "Centuries ago, 'action at a distance' was considered the hallmark of magic; the notion of gravity was initially rejected on that basis. Today, remote controls and sound and light sensors are commonplace" (p. 28). Nemeroff and Rozin recognized that magic and science are not antagonistic: "Today's magic sometimes becomes tomorrow's

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21 science, and today's science is sometimes tomon'ow's magic ... In short, we consider magic as worthy of respect as an important and potentially beneficial human function" (pp.2-3). They encouraged the psychological study of magic: We conclude that magical thinking is an important part of human life, yet it has been little studied and hence is poorly understood. Magical thinking is sometimes adaptive and sometimes problematic, but it is almost always a force to be reckoned with. In short, we see magic as fiindamental to human nature and empirically addressable, and urge increased attention to it. In summary, the subject matter of magic has been addressed and discussed from the early days of the field of modem day psychology. In the beginning of the twentieth century, many psychologists who wrote about magic treated it as an inferior construct to more advanced or civilized Western conceptualizations, such as science. In many ways, magic was considered to be the antithesis of psychological progress. As the science of psychology advanced, more prominent psychologists were willing to consider subjective and magical experiences as valid, important, and sometimes even crucial, to our full understanding of human psychology. Today, some scientists still hold on to antiquated notions that magical experiences are antagonistic to psychological progress. Fortunately, though, the subject matter of magic continues to be examined and applied to various fields of study within the psychological domain. This study aims to more closely examine those experiences that participants define as magical in order to gain a deeper understanding of the human array of magical being. The next chapter of this study details the heuristic, qualitative methodology that was used to analyze the data.

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CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY In this chapter I will delineate the various steps that I took in collecting and analyzing the data about magical experiences. I will lay out the heuristic methodology of conducing qualitative research. I will also share the specific steps I took in follovdng the heuristic method. Participants I administered a short answer, open-ended questiormaire to 70 undergraduate students who were enrolled in a psychology course. They each received extra credit for the course for filling out the questiormaire. The majority of participants, 48 individuals (69%), were women. A slight majority, 40 participants (57%) were White. The rest of the participants were from diverse cultural backgrounds, such as Hispanic, Afiican American, and Asian. The age range of participants was from 1 8 to 44, with an average age of 21. Instruments Each participant received a questiormaire with the following 4 questions. (See Appendix A): 1 . Think of a special or exciting experience in your life that>'o« felt was magical — a unique moment or event that was for you filled with magic. This experience can be from any time in your life. Please tell me about this experience. 2. How did you feel differently during this experience? 3. What impact has this experience had on your life? 4. What is it like now to recall your memory of that original magical experience? 22

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23 Procedure I handed the questionnaires to students enrolled in an introductory psychology course. I also presented each participant with an informed consent agreement (Appendix B). I asked them to answer all of the questions. I also told the students that they could ask me questions if anything was unclear. None of the students asked any questions. All of the participants were able to complete their responses within 15 minutes. An Introduction to the Heuristic Method This study uses the qualitative heuristic framework to examine the phenomenon of the experience of magic. The heuristic model is focused on fluid process (Von Eckartsberg, 1971): instead of utilizing set methods and procedures, the heuristic model places emphasis on the interactive process of discovery (Moustakas, 1967). Moustakas explained the essence of the heuristic orientation: [The heuristic method] is a process of searching and studying, of being open to significant dimensions of experience in which comprehension and compassion mingle; in which intellect, emotion, and spirit are integrated; in which intuition, spontaneity, and selfexploration are seen as components of unified experience; in which both discovery and creation are reflections of creative research into human ventures, human processes, and human experience (p. 107). The heuristic model is open to the magic of experience and seeks to let it play a leading role in the conceptualization and process of the scientific investigation. Thus, the heuristic approach steps away from sterile methodologies and embraces a Taoist-like process that focuses on connectivity and flow. The heuristic process tends to move from the whole to the part and back to the whole, from the individual to the general and back again. It fluctuates from the concrete to the abstract and back to the concrete, from the feeling to the word and back to the feeling, from the experience to the cocept and back to the experience (Craig, 1978, p. 57.)

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24 The heuristic design celebrates a poetic, intuitive, non-linear approach to science. It enables the researcher to parallel the movements of the experience under investigation without forcing them into a rigid, compartmental enclosure. The spirit of the experience is recorded without encaging the experience. The dance between the experimenter, the participants, and the subject matter under investigation is the focus of the exploration. That dance, that process, is appreciated and celebrated. The heuristic approach is not reductive. Its aim is not to arrive at a single theme or phrase that defines the phenomenon. The heuristic methodology preserves the interactive process and examines it from various angles in order to elucidate patterns, connections, and insights that might have otherwise remained ensconced. The research investigation itself takes on a living, organic quality. The scientist strives to gain familiarity with the nuances and processes of movement of the corpus. The investigation generates rhythms that reveal pathways to meaning (Moustakas, 1981). The rhythms oscillate between the novel and the known, wonder and calmness, risk and safety. The researcher seeks to identify the various rhythms, themes, and patterns relating to the subject under investigation, both internally and in the outward aspects of the research (i.e. participants, literature review). The heuristic method incorporates self-exploration into the scientific investigation. The researcher is a central component of the study (Moustakas, 1967). An essential aspect of the corpus, therefore, is the scientist's own reflections, understanding, and experience. The scientist is deeply and intimately a part of the exploration. Moreover, the researcher is expected to passionately delve into the experience (Polanyi,

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25 1958). As Kelly (1969) pointed, scientists are ultimately also subjects in their own research. The origin of the study itself emanates from the scientist. Thus, even at the earlier stages, the researcher acts as a fountain to the blossoming of the eventual study. The seed for the study might lie dormant for years, raw and imstructured, until the right conditions allow it to mature into a fiill-fledged investigation. Even the scientist is probably not fully aware of the earliest roots of the origins of the quest (Craig, 1978). Polanyi (1958) explained that there is no clear boundary between researcher and research. The two are integrated and the final product cannot be cleanly separated into the objective and subjective: [The process of science] summons us, passionately and far beyond our comprehension ... for we live in it as in the garment of our skin. Like love, to which it is akin, this commitment is a 'shirt of flame,' blazing with passion and, also like love, consumed by devotion ... (p. 64). The heuristic investigation relies on discovery. The process of discovery entails much more than a testing of a hypothesis or an analysis of data. Discoveries can occur on several levels, such as intellectual, intuitive, emotional, and magical. The process of discovery involves creativity and depth. The heuristic methodology does not provide stiff rules or rigid guidelines to dictate the discovery procedure. The interactive rhythms and the artistic movement of the project guide the heuristic process of discovery. The focus of the discovery is not on reaching a solution or arriving at a result. The purpose of the discovery is to delve deeper into the phenomenon and gain fiirther insight and broader understanding. The discovery process of the heuristic method allows for the emergence of new knowledge. This process of emergence is a natural byproduct of discovery. It is the

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26 reaping of the crop that was sewn by the seeds of discovery. Emergence happens when ideas, thoughts, and feeUngs realign and fall into place to generate an insight. This process is not controlled by conscious effort. A hidden truth is revealed. Rogers (1965) recognized this stage when stating that ". . . all science is based on a recognition — usually prelogical, intuitive, involving all the capacities of the organism — of a dimly sensed gestalt, a hidden reality (p. 1 89)." The hitherto hidden gem mushrooms into awareness. Emergence has an a-ah! quality to it. New connections and insights demystify some of the mysteries of the subject matter under investigation. The process of discovery and emergence are not finite. New connections, insights, and patterns will continue to emerge. The heuristic methodology recognizes the plausibility that what seems to be the end result might be, and probably is, only an end to one path and the beginning of a new one. This research study does not represent closure on my exploration of magic. My report to you is a summary of my journey thus far. If I revisit this project in ten years, I hope to have much to add to my findings. The heuristic process, like a geometric hyperbola, extends indefinitely. Craig (1978) explained that the exploration is ever continuous, gaining in depth and wisdom. The heuristic process accepts faith as a subjective form of knowledge. Because nothing can ever be knovm to be fully and completely objectively true (Rogers, 1965), trust and faith in the process of the acquisition of knowledge is an important step in the heuristic methodology. Craig (1978) reported that "my primary experience is one of faith, faith that something will happen, that some unknown reality will speak and I will be there to listen (p.5 1)." Faith is necessary when delving into a new area or when confusion seems to reign. I find faith most important in times of doubt. The distrusting

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27 attitude that the field of psychology has historically held about the validity of qualitative methodology, especially humanistically-centered approaches, can make it easy for the heuristic scientist to question the process of her or his exploration. Faith is necessary in order to produce the best possible exploration and overcome oppressive prejudices. The heuristic study's validity cannot be measured by traditional empirical means. The exploration is valid in its subjective truth as experienced by the scientist and by those who share in its reading (Moustakas, 1967). The project is valid to the extent that it sheds light on and adds significance to the understanding of the reader. Validity is measured through the degree of meaning of the work. In this sense, the heuristic measure of validity is more strenuous and adds responsibility on the researcher: the project is not valid simply because it is deemed to be accurate by a certain measure. Validity is only established when the material touches and impacts an individual. One of Moustakas' most famous heuristic studies is the exploration of the state of loneliness (Moustakas, 1961). Moustakas delved into the experience of what it means to feel lonely. He would go out walking late at night, trying to fully comprehend what it is like to feel completely alone. Moustakas searched to understand both the devastating and inspirational aspects of loneliness: "I realize that [a person's] inevitable and infinite loneliness is not solely an awful condition of himian existence but that it is also the instrument through which [an individual] experiences new compassion and new beauty" (p. X). Researches have continued to adopt Moustakas' heuristic model to investigate intriguing, and usually personal, phenomena. Pagans (2001) explored her dual White and Native American identity in "Return of the White Buffalo." Although Pagans was raised

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28 in the mainstream cultural environment of Virginia, she wanted to integrate her indigenous background in her life. She found the process of regaining knowledge about her heritage and understanding how it became lost in the first place to be a transcendent experience. She reports that the resulting integration filled her soul with spiritual ecstasy. In her heuristic journey, she made an extensive literature review of Native Americans, interviewed several members of the Monacan Indian Nation, and visited the land where her ancestors lived. Stuckey (2001) interviewed Jungian psychotherapists in his heuristic investigation of the state of presence. He explained that although presence has been theoretically explored, no study delved full force into the phenomenon. Stuckey found that in order for presence to be achieved, both therapist and client need to feel safe and secure. When presence in psychotherapy is achieved, the experience often contains numinous and spiritual qualities. According to Stuckey, when people are fully present they are able to communicate on a deeper level and see each other as enlightened beings. Smith (2000) explored the experience of being a member of a stepfamily. She wanted to gain insight into the process of being integrated into a new family unit. Smith interviewed several individuals who lived as members of stepfamilies. Her investigation enabled her to produce five common stages in the experience of becoming a member of a stepfamily: honeymoon, hostility, ambivalence, transition, and resolution. Smith's findings not only helped her in gaining insight into her own experience, but they also shed light on patterns common to all people who become members of a stepfamily.

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29 Phases in the Heuristic Method The heuristic methodology generally involves 5 overiapping phases: immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and creative synthesis. During the first step of immersion, the investigator opens up to aspects of the phenomenon that is under study. According to Rogers (1965), "It means soaking up experience like a sponge so that it is taken in all its complexity, with my total organism freely participating in the experiencing of the phenomenon, not simply my conscious mind (p. 187)." Moustakas (1981) compared immersion to empathy, gaining a different vantage point through a willingness to remain open to possibilities. When I decided to perform my dissertation on the experience of magic, I started to keep an artistic scrapbook about magic (See Appendix C). I used it as a creative means of exploring my feelings, ideas, thoughts, and reflections about magic. I included quotes that I found magical, my o\m personal ideas that came to mind about magic, and images that relate to my experience of magic. I normally do not create artistic work using this medium, and I was surprised at the ease at which I was able to create. I found the experience very powerful. It was a nursery for the ideas and realizations that I shared in my introduction to this work. I also paid attention to the declaration of the word magic when it was mentioned. Whenever I would read a newspaper or a book, my eye immediately gravitated to the word "magic." The word "magic" also oftentimes appears in song lyrics. Magic often appears in colloquial phrases, such as "magically disappeared," "magical moments," and

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30 "worked her magic." However, the concept of magic is almost never conveyed in the full power of the construct; in other words, I rarely hear people talking about personal experiences that have been so amazing that they are magical. And even then, the magical quality of the experience is almost never explored. I also began to actively incorporate the construct of magic into my own understanding of psychology. There is power to magic that makes it resistant to the overwhelming rational and structured discipline that we have created. I have been able to more consciously appreciate the nuances and shades of wonder in my experience of psychology. Whether through teaching a class and engaging in a deep discussion that reveals interesting insights or through psychotherapeutic explorations with clients, I am more attuned to the magic that underlies the dance of experience. If science represents the trunk and branches of the psychology tree, then magic is everything that adds flavor and beauty, like the leaves and small creatures. I noticed that magic adds flavor to experience. Perhaps the antithesis of magic is not at all science but the mundane. People who are depressed seem to not be fully aware and cognizant of the magic in their lives. Magic, in its more subtle and flexible form, is not concerned with making objects disappear and reappear, but rather it adds life to a process, it spices things up. Magic makes an ordinary event vibrant and exciting. The second phase of the heuristic methodology is incubation. This is not a phase of action or doing. Incubation is simply a state of allowing the process to mature. This is a tacit, passive stage where all the different elements simply settle down and marinate. Connections, interactions, patterns, and insights wait to be awakened.

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31 For the second phase, I simply allowed the process of integrating magic into my awareness to brew and develop. I was noticing that even though I was not actively engaged with the concept of magic in my mind, the construct of magic was taking root and becoming a more core concept. I was increasingly more comfortable integrating the word magic into my description of events as well as into my own narrative. The third phase is illumination. This is where active ideas begin to form and flower. It is a process of revelation (Polanyi, 1958). Concepts begin to form into solid theories or possibilities. For me, one of the instances of illumination happened a few months after I began this project. I was teaching a personality psychology undergraduate course and I suddenly realized that magic is an important construct that differentiates personality theorists (See Appendix D). I also began to more fully appreciate the power of magic in mental health, that one of my primary goals of being a psychotherapist is to work with my client to regain his or her own magical experiencing of life. Additionally, I find it important for a psychotherapy session that I deliver to be magical. There is a certain gestalt characteristic to magical experiences that makes the totality of the event meaningfiil and invigorating in ways that cannot simply be broken down. I understood that there is a certain amount of flexibility and freedom that emanate from pulling away from the gravity of pure logical and objective thinking. The fourth phase of the heuristic model is explication. Conceptualizations and theories become more refined. Subtleties and nuances are added to accentuate the validity of the emerging patterns and connections. For me, explication occurred with the realization of the various ways in which the lack of magic in most mainstream psychological theories and practices are detrimental to the healing process. I began to

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32 understand that not only is the lack of magic affecting the clients, it also affects the practitioner, the scientist, and the health of our culture as a whole. I began to become more attuned to what it is like living in a culture that is largely devoid of magic. There is a certain robotic monotony that pervades everyday life in our culture. Predictability and routine are helping us become efficient, but we sacrifice the spontaneity and wonder of magic. As a result, we are in danger of turning into perfectly working zombies. Magic is the elixir that can regenerate our spirits (See Appendix E). But efficiency and magic are not orthogonal; both can coexist. I observed that I can be most effective and efficient, both in the realm of psychology and the outside world, when I allow magic to weave its way into my life. The fifth and last phase is the creative synthesis. This is the assembly where all the various brooklets merge into a new body of water that conveys a deeper understanding of the phenomenon. The creative synthesis phase is not a denouement. It is the emerging story, the myth, which embraces the various parts. The insights resulting from this phase are revealed and presented in the discussion chapter of this manuscript.

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CHAPTER 4 RESULTS When I created the questionnaire, I was concerned that many of the participants would be confused about what a magical experience is all about. Because the survey did not define what a magical experience is, I expected that at least some of the participants would be unable to fill out the questioimaire or at the very least raise their hands to ask questions. Surprisingly, no one asked any questions. All 70 participants, who represent several cultural backgrounds, were able to complete the survey. The only exception was a young woman who wrote down that she has had exciting experiences in her life, but that she does not like referring to them as magical for religious reasons. But even this participant, albeit her protests, has had magical experiences and has understood what the question asked, she was simply uncomfortable using the specific word "magical" to account for her experiences. Frequencies of the themes of magical experiences are presented in Table 4-1 . Table 4-1. Frequencies of themes of magical experiences Theme Frequency Percentage Love 15 21 Performance or Winning 13 19 Travel 11 16 Graduation and Prom 9 13 Cars related 6 9 Spirituality, God, Religion 5 7 Nature 5 7 33

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34 The most popular recounting of a magical experience was related to love. Fifteen participants (21%) reported magical experiences that involved love or a significant other. One participant reported, "The night I first met my boyfriend felt magically. From the moment we both looked into each other's eyes we knew there was something special there. The whole night felt like a dream." Another participant shared, "My first kiss. It was with my first boyfriend and long time best friend. It was tingly/sweet/sincere/romantic. It made my birthday magical." One participant wrote about her magical experience with her boyfriend: "Our prom is held on the beach so that night we went out to look at the stars and he held me and said he could do this forever. I asked if he meant look at the stars or hold me — he said holding on to me, being that close to me." Some love magical accounts were unrelated to romance. One young man reported: "I believe it was the first time I said 'I love you' to my mother. I believe she was telling me about the things that happened to her in her life and I was expressing things in my life. That was a beautiful day." Landsman's (1968) exploration of the positive experience, "events which transpire or which we bring about and which in retrospect are seen by the subject as 'good' (p.l)" revealed that across all age groups, human relationships were the most responsible for eliciting descriptions of positive experiences. Even though magical experiences do not necessarily have to be positive, it seems that in both cases interpersonal interactions play an important role in facilitating them. Additionally, perhaps memorable experiences, whether positive or magical, are inspired by human interaction.

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35 For 13 of the participants (19%), performance or winning was magical. For one man this happened while playing baseball: Playing baseball, 1 predicted to my team that I was going to hit a homerun to win the game. 1 did this moments before I went to bat. I explained that the field looked short today, and my teammate said, "Can you hit it that far?" I said, "You'll see." I had never hit a homerun up to that point. I hit it. Another participant realized her career passion: 1 was in sixth grade performing a middle school play. I was standing on stage behind the curtain, waiting for it to open. As the huge bright lights beamed, the curtain slowly opened. Right at that moment I felt and told myself, "1 could do this for the rest of my life; this is amazing." Even to this day when I'm discouraged or think someone else is better than me at theater I think and relive that moment of passion, anticipation, excitement, and love. Once again, I found a similarity between the magical experience and Landsman's positive experience. With the exception of elementary age school children. Landsman (1968) found that earned success was the second most fi-equent facet of inspiring a positive experience. These similarities between the magical experience and the positive experience suggest that there is a certain type of elevating experience that is ingrained in the human experience and might be known by different names, such as a positive experience, a peak experience, or a magical experience. Interestingly, neither our modem American culture nor the field of psychology has thoroughly investigated the importance and ramifications of this phenomenon. Interestingly, the magical experience associated with performance and winning bears similarity to Privette's (2000) peak performance concept. A peak performance is one that "is more efficient, more creative, more productive, and in some way better than one's habitual behavior (p. 162)." The similarity and overlap between the magical

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36 experience and the peak performance suggests that the concepts are related. Specifically, a peak performance may arouse feelings of magic. Another popular topic area that generated magical experiences was travel. Eleven participants (16%) related magical encounters while traveling. "The day I visited the Vatican," shared one participant, "I felt as if I was in a completely different time, long ago in the past." Another reported, "The experience of being in Paris alone and being able to do things and see things I really love was exhilarating." Since the vast majority of the participants are recent high school graduates, some of their magical experiences related to the prom, homecoming, or graduation. Nine participants (13%) reported such experiences. "My graduation was filled with magic," recounted one participant, "My parents were separated all my life and I was living with my father. But on that day, my entire family was there which I never thought could ever happen again." Another participant told about her experience during grad night. "It was one of the last times ALL of my friends would get together before college . . . When I went home that evening, I had the biggest smile. I felt happy, but a different happy." One participant describes his experience during a senior ceremony assembly: "The assembly symbolizes the movement to the next stage of life for seniors. Moving up last year gave me a feeling of pride and accomplishment that was unexpected. I never knew how such a simple ceremony could be special." Six participants (9%) related personal experiences that included cars, driving, or vehicular accidents. The importance of some of these experiences might be a function of the participants' relatively young age. "The most magical experience for me," reports one participant, "was when I bought my first new car. My parents had picked it out while

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37 I was here at school with my suggestions and I saw it for the first time when I went home." One intriguing experience was reported by another participant: "I was sitting in the driver's side of my aunt's car ... It was a sunny day. There was rain falHng on our car for a few minutes, but all the cars passing or beside us were completely dry!" Three accounts in this category involved car accidents: It was a horrible car accident. I was broad sided by a car and flipped my car. I remember being tossed around like a rag doll, it felt like time had slowed down and I could see each individual roll. My passenger was ejected from the car and I found him lying on the ground next to the car in a pool of blood. I honestly thought he was dead and he wasn't MAGIC. It was also magic because all I got was some cuts. Five of the participants (7%) reported experiences that related to spirituality, God, or religion. "While I was in the emergency room," relates one participant, "by myself, with a neck brace, unable to see, I really felt God with me." Another participant in the category said the following: "I would have to say that the most magical experience in my life occurred when I was fifteen at a confirmation retreat. I was kneeling and I fell, and started hysterically crying because 1 felt God's presence for the first time." Five of the participants (7%) shared magical experiences that took place in nature. One participants related that "the moon was full and the water next to the sideway splashed up against the shore sweetly. There were no people there but us and no sounds but the water and wind." Another participant reported the following: I was sitting beside a beautiful, fresh water lake and there were so many stars it was just breathtaking. I was listening to music, and suddenly the whole experience filled me — the music was so perfect as was the place. I stood up and walked into the water, ankle deep, still listening to the music. I began dancing — and danced there for hours lost in the "magic" of everything filled with beauty ... It was the best night of my life, really beyond words.

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38 Table 4-2 describes the frequency of themes relating to how students felt differently during their magical moments they experienced. Twenty-two participants (32%) reported being energized or euphoric. "I was thrilled," described one participant, "I felt lucky. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time." Another reported: "It was as if I was high just on life." Another shared: "I felt so alive and lit up; I feh like I was in my element." Theme Frequency Percentage Energized or euphoric 22 32 More Connected to others 12 17 Felt Special 10 14 Twelve participants (17%) described feeling more connected to others, to life, or to the world. "I remember feeling connected to my roots," reports one participant, "I knew that 2,000 some years ago people in my family of my faith were there praying as I was praying." Another participant explained, "I felt so happy and privileged to become so close to a group of people." One participant felt she was "intimate with life" and another realized, "I suddenly felt all the elements of science, math, all the abstract concepts, fit and form with the real world." Ten participants (14%) said that they felt special. "I felt more special than usual," shared one participant. Another reported: "I felt special — like someone actually did care about me." Table 4-3 describes the frequency of themes that emerged when the participants were asked to relate the impact that the magical experiences have had on them. Fourteen

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39 participants (20%) reported increased clarity or awareness. "It has helped clear ideas inside my head," explained one participant. Another said, "It taught me that life is short and time truly is precious. Give all that is in your heart and never have any regrets." Table 4-3. Frequencies of themes of the impact of magical experiences Theme Frequency Percentage Increased clarity or awareness 14 20 Increased openness, less fear 11 16 Relationships improvement 10 14 Happier 7 10 Eleven participants (16%) reported increased opermess and a reduction of fear. As one summed it up, "I am more spiritual, happier, and fear nothing. I know life is full of meaning." Another participant stated that, "It taught me to say what I feel." One participant reflected being "more open to trying new and less conservative things," and another sated that "it has opened up my mind and forever changed the way I think about the situation I am in or the things that I am taught." Ten participants (14%) reported that their relationships with others improved. "I have grown much closer to my mother," shared one participant, "I am very sensitive to her feelings and try to talk to her as much as I can." Another participant talked about the effect the experience has had on her marriage: "The impact it has had is that our bonding is as intense as that moment." Seven participants (10%) said that the magical experiences made them happier: "Afterwards, I learned to smile, something I didn't do much of before." Another participant reported, "It made me happy and remember the calm I can feel." One

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40 participant remarked that the experience "made me feel content," and another said that "hope was borne and happiness too." Table 4-4 describes participants' observations of what it was like to recall their original magical experience while participating in this study. When asked what is it like now to recall your memory of that original magical experience, 30 participants (43%) reported that they feel happy or excited: "it makes me smile," "it brings me so much happiness and joy", "it makes me happy", "I get a smile on my face; it makes me happy", "I get such a wonderful feeling inside recalling the magic I felt that day. I'm going to go home and call one of those friends!" Table 4-4. Frequencies of themes of recalling the original magical exper iences Theme Frequency Percentage Happy or excited 30 43 Similar to reliving the original 16 23 Arouses a sense of magic 8 12 Sixteen participants (23%) reported that recalling the magical experience was almost like or just like reliving the original. One participant remarked that it is "almost like I'm back there, I wish I was." Another said, "It fills me again with what I felt that night — puts me back into that frame of mind, calms me." And yet another participant reported, "It stirs the same feeling from when I first realized I was in love, it's magical all over again! Thank you." Eight participants (12%) remarked that remembering the original incident arouses a sense of magic: "A unique experience filled with magic", "it is so thrilling, refreshing, all together phenomenal", and "it makes me shine like a light bulb." One participant

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41 added, "It brings goose bumps. It was cool." Similarly, another remarked, "It sends chills down my back" Although the participants were from diverse cultural backgrounds, no interesting differences emerged in their responses with regard to ethnicity. The only difference I detected was in relation to gender. Specifically, women were more likely than men to recall magical moments involving a relationship and men were more likely than women to recall magical moments involving cars and sports. Interestingly, the content of their experience (as opposed to the context) was nearly identical, especially regarding their explanations of what it was like recalling the original magical event. Overall, the magical experience is capable of occurring in diverse situations, sometimes completely unexpectedly: while driving, being in nature, engaging in a competition, or spending time with a loved one. Interestingly, the effect of the magical experience on the participant seems to be independent of the initiating event. In other words, regardless of whether the magical experience was due a romantic encounter, driving a fast car, or graduating from high school, the quality and effect of the experience appear to be similar. Perhaps there is a certain magical experience threshold, and when that limit gets tapped, the magical experience occurs, regardless of the event that initiated it. Another interesting result is that the magical experience seems to perpetuate its own magic, even beyond that caused by the initial event. Just like feeling depressed over an event can in itself perpetuate further depression, the magical experience seems to bring about a further degree of magic. Participants described their magical states chiefly as energizing, euphoric, feeling more cormected, and feeling special. This in turn led to

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42 increased clarity and awareness, a greater degree of openness, a reduction in fear, and an improvement of relationship quality. Magical experiences appear to generate and perpetuate psychological and personal growth. Most interestingly, the process of recalling the magical event generated its own magic. Participants reported feeling happy, excited, as if they were reliving the original event. The magical experience is so powerful and meaningful, that even the mere recollection of it, even the derivative of the original, renews the feeling of magic.

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CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION One of the most interesting observations I made from conducting this study is that virtually all participants were able to recall a moment or an experience that they felt was magical. Although in Western cultures people do not readily discuss magical experiences, especially as adults, the construct of a magical incident carries meaning and is readily retrieved. Specifically, most of the participants in this study found recalling their magical moments to be an enjoyable and even inspirational experience. Because psychologists are interested in improving the wellbeing of individuals, familiarity with magical experiences can aid researchers and practitioners in investigating the realm of growth and advancement. Even though Woolley (2000) and Rosengren and Hickling (2000) attribute magical thinking chiefly to children, this study has demonstrated that magical experiencing remains accessible to adults. This apparent paradox needs to be further explored. Perhaps the distinction between magical reasoning (as opposed to logical reasoning) and magical experiencing is one that carries important ramifications: the former belongs to the realm of cognitive reasoning while the latter taps into the realm of psychological and spiritual well being. Maybe adults are less likely than children to resort to magical explanations of events, but this does not mean that they carmot recognize an event as carrying magical significance. Future studies need to explore the differences and similarities between magical thinking and magical experiencing. There are still many questions that are left 43

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44 unanswered: are children more likely than adults to engage in magical thinking as well as in magical experiencing? What is the commonality, if any, between magical thinking and magical experiencing? Is magical thinking a prerequisite to magical experiencing (like crawling is to walking)? Do children value magical experiences as much as do adults? Do children find magical thinking to be a helpful tool in enriching their understanding of reality? Many of the powerful statements that surfaced from the participants emerged from the answer to the last question on the survey, what was it like to recall the memory of the original magical experience? Most participants remarked that doing so made them happy or excited, in some way enabled them to tap into the magic of the original experience, or created its very own magic. Almost no participants reported the experience to be a melancholy one. This finding carries interesting ramifications in the realm of psychotherapy. Implications for Psychotherapy Therapists who are comfortable with utilizing a spiritual modality may wish to ask their clients to recall magical experiences in order to tap into the power of the psyche or soul. The recollection of a magical experience could shed light on facets of the client's psyche or inner being. This technique might especially prove useful with clients who are unable to directly access their inner selves. If the client is able to relate a magical moment, he or she could examine this experience as, possibly, a time when the psyche shone through. For instance, a client who recollects a magical experience, say of watching a sunrise in nature, might describe the event as being inspirational or out-ofthis-world; the therapist can then ask the client to access the part of him or her that holds

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45 and reveres this experience. As a result, the client might be able to better understand the nature of his or her inner self. Therapists who subscribe to a feminist orientation can utilize their clients' magical experiences in championing their clients' voice. Individuals who find it difficult to comfortably communicate their convictions might find it less intimidating start out by relating personal experiences that are more non-threatening in nature. The therapist can invite the client to expand on his or her experience: what it felt like, how it fully came about, what was learned from it. In turn, the client might be able to gain confidence in communicating his or her own narrative and own his or her personal experience. In this way, the client's voice can be championed in a comfortable and safe environment. Counselors may also benefit from asking clients who appear to be sad or depressed to engage in recollection of magical moments. Since participants in this study largely reported enjoying their experience of recalling events in their lives that were filled with magic, clients who experience low moments in their lives might become more energized by remembering times in their lives when something magical occurred. However, because this study did not explore the effect of recalling magical moments on depressed people, a possibility exists that depressed clients might find the experience of recounting those moments to be overly sentimental and saddening. Further studies need to be performed in order to more clearly understand the effect of the recollection of magical moments on people who feel sad or depressed. In addition, therapists might find it helpful to ask their clients to recall magical moments when clients report feeling stuck or when they have nothing to say. More than simply serving as an icebreaker activity, the recounting of magical experiences can serve

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46 as a means to open new doors of explorations. Clients may present information or themes that can lead to new insights as well as shed further light on previous exploration. From a psychodynamic perspective, this activity can be construed as an investigation to delve deeper into the realm of the unconscious. Cultural Diversity I also observed that the descriptions of the effects and recollections of the original magical experiences are nearly identical — regardless of cultural background and gender — across participants. This is so even though the context of the experiences varied tremendously with each account. In other words, the similarity among the effects and recollections of the magical moments seems to transcend gender and cultural specifics. One possible explanation for this observation is that magical experiences resonate with a person's core being, and that this inner psychic structure holds certain similarities among individuals that might even be universal. But regardless of the explanation for this phenomenon, the finding in itself sheds a very interesting light on multicultural sensitivity: what might be considered a shallow or irrelevant experience by one person in a given context can bring about an equal amount of excitement and meaning for another person in another context. For instance, for me driving a fast car carries little magical connotation. But if I recognize that for someone with a different personal disposition or life experience this event is as meaningful as a spiritual experience might be for me, I can more easily accept and be in tune with the diversity of occurrences that mark the domain of humanity. Participants from different cultures with different experiences shared similar feelings regarding the experiences that they defined as magical. A corollary to the point above about multicultural awareness is that a human similarity underlies cultural differences. My findings suggest that when we explore the

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47 meaningfulness and impacts of magical experiences, the results are very similar. On the surface, one can rightfully note that the specific events that led to the magical experiences were very diverse. Upon further examination, though, one would find that the feelings and ramifications associated with the magical experience bear strong commonalities. To put it more poetically, although like the branches of a tree we might experience life from vastly different directions, the underlying root of the meaning of the events is nearly identical. This explanation, if accurate, complements multicultural diversity with a humanistic oneness. Further studies are needed in order to more fiilly investigate humanistic similarities that are shared by members of various cultural backgrounds. Relationship to Other Experiences Magical experiences also relate to other humanistic experiences. In the resuhs chapter I discussed the similarities among magical experiences, positive experiences, and peak performance. Perhaps all of the various nomenclatwes — magical experience, positive experience, and peak performance — share a common factor that is associated with a universal hviman ability to flourish. Maybe this "X" factor can be elicited even when we refer to it by different names, yet the underlying quality itself might be more intriguing than the mere semantic label used to describe it. Metaphorically, I envision the separate wells of the magical experience, positive experience, peak performance, and various other ones all tapping into the same psychological source. This theory does not necessarily mean that each of the individual wells redundant, because each one is able to provide additional insights and data into the powerful force that underlies it. Magical experiences might not be isolated events but a means by which researches can gain insight into a greater psychological reservoir.

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48 Further Implications and Limitations The next step in the exploration of the magical experience and, perhaps even more importantly, its underlying source, is to explore the magical experiences of individuals in various fields. Specifically, this study investigated the magical experiences of imdergraduate university students. Further studies can explore the results of therapists' accounts of magical experiences while conducting therapy, medical doctors' accounts of magical moments while caring for the sick, young children's versions of the magical experience, and elders' descriptions of magical moments throughout their lives. Commonalities as well as differences among these accounts would widen our understanding and appreciation of the experience of magic. This study contains several limitations. Most participants were women. Perhaps the findings would be different if more men were surveyed. Additionally, the majority of participants identified themselves as being white. Even though a large number of the participants was multicultural, quite possibly the large number of White participants resulted in accounts that might not be fiilly representative of the diverse American culture. Moreover, this study utilized surveys as a means of collecting data. A personal interview might have provided additional insights into the fiill experience of magical moments. Final Comments Personally, conducting this study has been an amazing experience. From the beginning, it opened doors and led me in directions that I did not anticipate. Creating my own magical scrapbook brought me closer to my own artistic creativity and a sense of magic, which is sadly so often absent from intellectual academia.

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49 When I administered the questionnaire to the participants, I was surprised that all of them were able to complete the questions, even though 1 never defined the term "magic" for them or gave them any examples of what I meant. Almost everyone I had previously told about the study voiced concerns over the participants' ability to comprehend the task. Evidently, we sometimes tend to imderestimate our fellow human beings' ability to connect to and express their own meaningful, magical experiences. I was also surprised when many participants turned in the questionnaire with a smile on their face. When 1 later read the immense power that the activity of recalling the magical experience has had on them, I was myself filled with a sense of magic and bliss. I felt privileged to be a viewer of their own magical encounters and, as the conductor of the study, someone who was able to allow them a moment to recormect with that magic. I hope that the magical aspect of science continues to be explored. There is no reason to view magic as antagonistic to science — to the contrary, magic adds flavor to science. I expect that the context of the magical events would be different, but that the underlying themes would remain similar. My heuristic investigation of the magical experience revealed facets of magic of which 1 was previously unaware. Before starting this study, I conceived magic to be an illusion, or at best a bygone product of excitement and thrill. As 1 learned more about magic, I have grown to respect its vast domain and the applicability to modem day life. Magic has the ability to rejuvenate. It brings about a child-like appreciation for life. Magical experiences are filled with wonder. Magic has the ability to heal the psyche and transform an individual. I hope that psychologists are encouraged to infiise magic into their research, teaching, and counseling. Our activities, whether in the lab, in the therapy office, or in

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50 the classroom, offer an opportunity to establish new magical moments for ourselves and for those with whom we come in contact. My study merely scratched the surface of the realm of magical experiences. I hope that it also serves as a door opener to further investigation. If our field of study can unite science and magic then we could substantially enhance our ability to transform people's lives.

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APPENDIX A SAMPLE QUESTIONNAIRE Please answer the following questions. Your responses will be kept completely confidential and will be kept separate from any documents that might identify you. There are no right or wrong answers. Please feel free to write and expand as much as you would like. Thank you in advance! 1. Think of a special or exciting experience in your life that you felt was magical — a unique moment or event that was for you filled with magic. This experience can be from any time in your life. Please tell me about this experience. Grad night. It was one of the last times ALL of my friends would get together before college. We spent the whole day talking, laughing and just having fun. When I went home that evening, I had the biggest smile. I felt happy, but a different happy 2. How did you feel differently during this experience? Time had slowed down, it was as if I was high just on life. 3. What impact has this experience had on your life? I just know that I have good friends & the happiest time of my life. 4. What is it like now to recall your memory of that original magical experience? I get a smile on my face and remembering us spending 15 hours laughing and enjoying our freedom. It makes me happy. 51

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APPENDIX B INFORMED CONSENT AGREEMENT Protocol Title: The Lived Experience of Magical Moments. 2002-589 Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. The purpose of this study: The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of magical, enthralling moments in people's lives. What you will be asked to do in the study: You will complete a questionnaire. Time required: 30 minutes. Risks and benefits: There are no anticipated risks. There are no direct benefits to you for participating during this study. Compensation: There is no financial compensation for participating in this study. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Your information will be assigned a code number. The list connecting your name to this number will be kept in a locked file in my faculty supervisor's office. When the study is completed and the data have been analyzed, the list will be destroyed. Your name will not be used in any report. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. 52

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53 Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Rom Brafman, Graduate Student, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 3261 1. Telephone: (352) 392-0601. Franz Epting, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 32611. Telephone: (352) 392-0601. Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office, Box 1 12250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 3261 1; ph 392-0433. Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: Date: Principal Investigator: Date:

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APPENDIX C IMMERSION PHASE As part of my immersion phase, I kept a working scrapbook that included creative and artistic reflections on various themes of magic. The purpose of the scrapbook was to immerse myself in experiences relating to magic. The following pages are samples from my scrapbook about my explorations of magical themes. 54

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55 Figure C-1 . What is real?

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56 To fUNtJUr Me^rc: «T "^e^ i^c^^c^j-h -/or^ef*^'r s'e^ en -^LU*^ Mji^ 4^^^ lOAji^ hXs "'^'^ '-^^//Ve /it^.r: '^^^''-'i II , , f Im4 of Mfgir^ lyz.vy ngure C-2. Harmony

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57 (ft^A/rJ ^^fJlis i/^^r S^Jl W yc^r m^f^ uA^--A^u^ ^ce iK. ^-^-r -^u^ <^or^ love's i^^y iz> i>ecJI:or) y«/u ^thQ, Qr^e hoAie. kxiA^, )4A.r? fW«. y
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APPENDIX D ILLUMINATION PHASE As part of my illumination phase, I became more and more aware of the construct of magic. Specifically, magic can be used to gain an interesting perspective on personality theory. Interestingly, although Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner might not have shared many similar ideologies, they were both very critical of the concept of magic. Each viewed magic as an illusion that does not belong in the field of psychology. On the other end of the spectnmi, Carl Jung and Abraham Maslow both felt that the construct of magic was essential to our understanding of psychology. Although Jung was more psychodynamic in his orientation and Maslow was one of the founders of the himianistic movement, one of their core similarities was their appreciation of the element of magic. This conceptualization of the construct of magic among personality theorists not only provided me with an additional dimension with which to better understand the theorists, but it proved extremely helpfiil in my teaching of the Introduction to Personality course. Students were more easily able to grasp the similarities and differences among the theorists. In addition to learning about the traditional major forces of psychology, students were also able to perceive the theorists along another dimension. 58

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APPENDIX E EXPLICATION PHASE During the explication phase, I became more sensitive to the lack of magic in our modem-day culture. I was reminded of the movie Koyaanisqatsi, which highlights the mechanistic and monotonous way of life and juxtaposes them with indigenous perspectives. The word "koyaanisqatsi" means crazy life and life out of balance in the Hopi language. I understood that my research project was going against the grain of the koyaanisqatsi culture. I was asking participants to get in touch with memories of magical experiences, thus allowing them to focus and appreciate their ovra magic. I was pleasantly surprised that although we live in a culture that is largely removed from, or even antagonistic to, magical experiences, every single participant was able to tap into a memory that was magical. Although dormant, the power of magic is still relatively accessible. 59

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LIST OF REFERENCES Bawden, H.H. (1910). Mind as a category of science. Psychological Bulletin, 7, 221225. Bernard, L.L. (1927). A psycho-sociological interpretation of magic. Publications of the American Sociological Society, 22, 60-71. Bode, B. H. (1914). Psychology as a science of behavior. Psychological Review, 21, 4661. Camcross, H. (1926). The escape from the primitive. Oxford: Scribners. Castaneda, C. (1968). Journey to ixtlan. Los Angeles: Washington Square Press. Coriat, l.H. (1923). Suggestion as a Form of Medical Magic. Journal of Abnormal Psychology & Social Psychology, 18, 258-268. Craig, P.E. (1978). The heart of the teacher: A heuristic study of the inner world of teaching. Dissertation Abstracts International, 38, 7222. Cunningham, G. (1999). Religion and magic: Approaches and theories. New York, NY: New York University Press. Evans, D.W., Milianak, M.E., & Medeiros, B. (2002). Magical beliefs and rituals in young children. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 33, 43-58. Freud, S. (1928). The future of an illusion. Honolulu: Hogarth Press. Frost, E.P. (1914). Cannot psychology dispense with consciousness? Psychological iJev/ew, 21, 204-211. Gilroy, B.D. (2001). Using magic therapeutically with children. In H.G. Kaduson, C.E. Schaefer (Eds.), 101 more favorite play therapy techniques (429-438). Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc. Goldenweiser, A. A. (1919). Magic and religion. Psychological Bulletin, 16, 82-90. Greenwood, S. (2000). Magic, witchcraft and the otherwold: An anthropology. New York, NY: New York University Press. 60

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61 Horton, R. (1997). Patterns of thought in africa and the west. Boston, MA: Cambridge University Press. Jung (1960/ Collected works. Volume VIII. The structure and dynamics of the psyche. Oxford: Pantheon. Jung (1963). Memories, dreams, and reflections. New York: Random House. Kelly, G.A. (1969). Clinical Psychology and personality: The selected papers of George Kelly New York, NY: Wiley. Krippner, S. & Achterberg, J. (2000). Anomalous healing experiences. In E. Cardena & S.J. Lyim (Eds.), Varieities of anomalous experience: Examining the scientific evidence (pp. 353-395). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Kubovy, M. (2000). On the pleasures of the mind. In D. Kahneman & E. Diener (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 134-154). New York, NY: Russel Sage Foundation. Landsman, T. (1968). Positive experience and the beautiful person. Unpublished manuscript. Leuba, J.H. (1909). On the three types of behavior: The mechanical, the coercitive (magic), and the anthropopathic (including religion). American Journal of Psychology, 20, 107-119. Leitner, L.M., Faidley, A.J., & Celentana, M.A. (2000). Diagnosing human meaning making: An experiential constructivist approach. In R.A. Niemeyer & J.D. Raskin (Eds.), Constructions of disorder: Meaning-making frameworks for psychotherapy (pp. 175-203). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Maslow, A.H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. Oxford: D. Van Nostrand. Masten, A.S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56, 227-238. McClelland, H. T. (1924;. Mysticism and magic. Open Court, 38, 310-320. Miner, H. (1956). Body ritual among the nacirema. American Anthroplogist, 58, 503507. Moustakas, C. (1961). Loneliness. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall. Moustakas, C. (1967). Creativity and conformity. Oxford: D. Van Nostrand.

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62 Moustakas, C. (1981). Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage. Nemeroff, C, & Rozin, P. (2000). The making of the magical mind: The nature and function of sympathetic magical thinking. In K.S. Rosengren, N. Carl (Eds.), Imagining the impossible: Magical, scientific, and religious thinking in children (pp. 1-34). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Odendaal, J.S.J. (2000). Animal-assisted therapy— Magic or medicine? Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 49, 275-280. Pagans, L.R. (2001). Return of the white buffalo. Dissertation Abstracts International, 61,3881. Polanyi, M. (1958). Personal knowledge; towards a post-critical philosophy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Privette, P.G. (2000). Defining moments of self-actualization: Peak performance and peak experience. In K.J. Schneider & F.T. Bugental (Eds.), Handbook of humanistic psychology (pp. 161-180). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Rogers, C.R. (1965). Some thoughts regarding the philosophy of the behavioral sciences. The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 5, 182-194. Rosengren, K.S., & Hickling, A.K. (2000). Metamorphosis and magic: The development of chidren's thinking about possible events and plausible mechanisms. In K.S. Rosengren, N. Carl (Eds.), Imagining the impossible: Magical, scientific, and religious thinking in children (pp.75-98). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Smith, C.C. (1930). In defense of magic. Oxford: Dial. Smith, W. (2000). The experience of being a member of a stepfamily: A heuristic investigation. Dissertation Abstracts International, 60, 6384. Stuckey, M. (2001). A heuristic investigation of presence. Dissertation Abstracts International, 62, 2965. Subbotsky, E., «fe Quinteros, G. (2002). Do cultural factors affect causal beliefs? Rational and magical thinking in Britian and Mexico. British Journal of Psychology, 93, 519-543. S wanton, J.R. (1924). Three factors in primitive religion. American Anthropologist, 26, 358-365.

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63 Tambiah, S.J. (1990J. Magic, science and religion and the scope of rationality. Boston, MA: Cambridge University Press. Von Eckartsberg, R. (1971). Duquesne studies in phenomenological psychology. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press. Wampold, B.E. (2000). Outcomes of individual counseling and psychotherapy: Empirical evidence addressing two fundamental questions. In S.D. Brown, & R.W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology, 71 1-739. New York, NY: John Wiley &. Sons. Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviourist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158-177. White, W.A. (1928). The language of schizophrenia. Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Diseases, 5, 323-343. Whitebook, J. (2002). Slow magic: Psychoanalysis and "the disenchantment of the world." Journal of the American Pschoanalytic Association, 50, 1 197-1217. Wohl, M.J.A., & Enzle, M.A. (2002). The deployment of personal luck: Sympathetic magic and illusory control in games of pure chance. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1388-1397. Woolley, J.D. (2000). The development of beliefs about direct mental-physical causality in imagination, magic, and religion. In K.S. Rosengren, C.N. Johnson (Eds.), Imagining the impossible: Magical, scientific, and religious thinking in children (pp. 99-129). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Rom Brafman was bom in Israel right before the 1973 war. He moved to the United States with his family when he was 1 1 . He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. He enrolled in the Counseling Program at the University of Florida in 2000. Rom is a proponent of the humanistic approach to psychotherapy and looks forward to play an active role in reintegrating the construct of the psyche into the field of psychology. 64

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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosoj -/tram. Epti Profess I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. RobferrZiller Professor of Psychology I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. ^, ^ David Suchman Professor of Psychology I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fiilly adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Sheldon Isenberg Associate Professor of Religion This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Gradixate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. August, 2005 Dean, Graduate School