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Egocentric and Magical Thinking - Topic Overview

Egocentric thinking is the normal tendency for a young child to see everything that happens as it relates to him- or herself. This is not selfishness. Young children are unable to understand different points of view. For example, a preschool child might sympathize with his or her father and try to comfort him by offering a favorite toy or stuffed animal, reasoning that what helps the child feel better will also comfort the adult. Egocentric thinking also can cause a young child to feel responsible if something bad happens.

Magical thinking is a child's belief that what he or she wishes or expects can affect what really happens. For example, if a child wants very much for something to happen, and it does, the child believes he or she caused it to happen. If your daughter is mad at her brother and wants him to leave, and he then gets sick and goes to the hospital, your daughter may think her brother's illness is her fault.

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    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 22, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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