Animal Magnetism Theory


ANIMISM THEORY. This speculation has several connotations and contexts. In one case, it is the doctrine propounded by the Greek philosophers Pythagoras (c. 560 - c. 480 B.C.) and Plato (c. 427 - c. 347 B.C.) that "anima" (i.e., air, breath, life principle, soul) is an immaterial force that organizes and moves the material world. In another case, animism theory is the doctrine advanced by the German physician Georg Ernest Stahl (1660-1734) that the soul is the essential or vital principle ("anima mundi") on which all organic development and progression depends; cf., the notion of élan vital, or "vital force," proposed by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941), referring to the original vital/life impulse comprising the basic substance of all consciousness and nature. In a psychological context, animism theory is embedded in the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget's (1896-1980) cognitive/developmental theory (cf., Jung's theory of personality), especially as it relates to the thinking of children who have not yet learned to distinguish animate or living objects from inanimate objects. In Piaget's usage, the notion of animism [borrowed from the British social anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917), who suggested that psychological traits and aspects such as intentions and desires are ascribed by individuals in some primitive cultures to inanimate objects, plants, and other natural phenomena] - as reflected in children's cognitive processes - undergoes four developmental stages: the child's belief that everything in the environment is alive (ages 4-6 years); the belief that everything that moves is alive (ages 6-7 years); the belief that everything that moves by itself is alive (ages 8-10 years); and the correct or proper distinction between animate and inanimate objects (after age 10 years). In the related animistic concept of anthropomorphism, the individual gives specific human characteristics (such as humor, love, or reflective feelings) to non-human animals and objects. See also JUNG'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; PIAGET'S THEORY OF DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES. REFERENCES

Orphanotrophei. Tylor, E. B. (1871). Primitive culture: Researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, art, and custom. London: Murray.

Piaget, J. (1929/1963). The child's conception of the world. New York: Littlefield, Adams.


ANOMIE THEORY. The major proposition made by the French sociologist Emile Durk-heim (1858-1917) in anomie theory is that there is a connection or correlation between certain personal behaviors (such as suicide) and anomie (a general state of society where rules, conduct, and standards of belief have broken down or become weakened; also, ano-mie refers to the analogous psychological condition in a person that is characterized by hopelessness, despair, social isolation, depression, and loss of sense of purpose in life). Upon reflection, anomie theory appears to contain an element of circular reasoning to many observers regarding cause-effect relationships, especially as it relates to suicide: does anomie cause suicide, or do increasing rates of suicide lead to anomie? See also SCHIZOPHRENIA, THEORIES OF; SOCIAL DRIFT THEORY; SUICIDE, THEORIES OF. REFERENCE

Durkheim, E. (1897/1966). Suicide: A study in sociology. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

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