1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Psychology of Magic

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Psychology of Magic

The same causes which operated to produce a belief in Witchcraft (q.v.) aided the creed of magic in general. Fortuitous coincidences attract attention; the failures are disregarded or explained away. Probably the magician is never wholly an impostor, and frequently has a whole-hearted belief in himself; in this connexion may be noted the fact that juggling tricks have in all ages been passed off as magical; the name of “Conjuring” (q.v.) survives in our own day, though the conjurer no longer claims that his mysterious results are produced by demons. It is interesting to note that magical leechcraft depended for its success on the power of Suggestion (q.v.), which is to-day a recognized element in Medicine; perhaps other elements may have been instrumental in producing a cure, for there are cases on record in which European patients have been cured by the apparently meaningless performances of medicine-men, but an adequate study of savage medicine is still a desideratum.