Parish, JAE (2021) The spectral material culture in ordinary life: Re-imagining obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The Sociological Review. ISSN 0038-0261

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In 2020 obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was ranked by the World Health Organisation as one of the top-10 most disabling diseases. Today, it is the fourth most common mental disorder in the United Kingdom. This research is based upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted since 2016 in Merseyside and Cheshire, UK, which re-imagines obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals among women who self-diagnosed as having ‘magical thinking OCD’. Referring to variations in the brain, OCD is often described as a type of neurodiversity. While, in popular culture, representations of OCD practices invariably invoke anthropological ideas of magical correspondence and animism as objects are assumed to possess an overpowering agency over the person who is supposed to master their possessions. This study aims to firmly place the notion of OCD in the realm of a spectral material culture and initiate a wider sociological conversation about the ‘haunting’ of a wide range of subject-objects. In doing so, I want to remove magic from the normative shadow of concepts such as the mysterious and the ghostly and instead employ the ordinary everyday as a sociological analytic for understanding the magic of mass-produced things and global processes of automation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Uncontrolled Keywords: animism, disorder, everyday, obsessive-compulsive, spectral material culture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 07:59
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2021 11:01

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