One of my patients with OCD and magical thinking created this wonderful card as a behavioural experiment to wish me bad luck before a surgical operation. This is challenging the doubt that wishing a bad event can make it happen. I was so impressed. I showed it with pride to my surgeon and I think it confirmed his view of psychiatrists as completely mad. However, I also had beside my bed a book about the history of surgeons as butchers, which might have also contributed to this idea.

A key issue in an anti-superstitious task is not that bad events do not happen (because sometimes bad events do occur by coincidence and not by the power of thinking). The key issue is to tolerate the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen and to consider after the event whether the evidence best fits “Theory B” (for example that they were very worried and fearful about me dying in the operation but they could tolerate not knowing).