The Omnipotence of Thoughts

The omnipotence of thoughts is essentially obsessional neurosis. The feeling that we experience when a thought becomes realised without our own direct influence. Such as when you find yourself thinking of a distant friend, only to meet them in the street the next day. Freud tells the story of a patient suffering from obsessional neurosis who recalled:

he had once visited a hydropathic institution and found that has health improved greatly. However, he was sensible enough to attribute this improvement not to the healing properties of the water, but to the location of his room, which was next to the office of a very kind nurse. So, returning for a second visit, he asked for the same room, only to be told that it was already occupied by an old gentleman. Whereupon he gave vent to his annoyance with the words, “Then he should be struck dead!” A fortnight later the old gentleman did suffer a stroke.”  

Freud explained that his patient did indeed identify this as an uncanny experience, and clarifies that every obsessional neurotic could tell similar stories, in which they described these phenomenon, which are utterly coincidental conditions, as being “”presentiments” that ‘usually’ came true.” These patients, and undeniably many others who would not be considered as suffering from obsessional neurosis, attach importance to their thoughts in a manner that turns coincidence into something almost supernatural.

Fig.3 'Bioshock'

Fig.3 ‘Bioshock’

Freud also observes another, and what he considers most widespread, notion of the omnipotence of thoughts called the ‘evil eye’. This presents itself as the fear that something one possesses, precious to themselves, is the envy of all around them, and, by extension, the “overrating of one’s own mental processes”. I have regarded this in the context of digital media, and have concluded that, in the world of gaming predominantly, this manifests itself as the notion of control within a narrative environment which is eventually revealed to be constructed by another power. As an example, I have looked at the popular game Bioshock, by Irrational Games (2007). In this first person shooter horror game, the player begins the game as Jack, guided by a voice, via radio, to safety. Along the way you are asked by the guiding voice to dispatch enemies and complete tasks to ensure your safety. Eventually, upon being compelled to kill his own father, Jack becomes aware that the phrase “would you kindly”, which has preceded many of the guides commands, is actually a hypnotic trigger. This realisation opens the player to the terrifying notion that every act they have committed has not been of their own choice. The players’ entire understanding of the world has been a projection of the one controlling them
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