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Psychological characteristics of superstition

Superstition (literally - vain, vain, that is, false) is a belief that is opposed to true faith, as expressed in the creeds of developed religions. From a rationalistic point of view, every belief in supernatural phenomena [22, p. 632].

At the same time, superstition is a prejudice, by virtue of which much of what is happening is a manifestation of supernatural forces, an omen of the future [159, p. 716] 1.

1 Some psychologists believe that in their psychological mechanism, superstition is close to the neurosis of obsessive states. The fact that it is useless to fight obsessive states with persuasion explains the high tenacity of superstitions, even those that contradict the worldview of people (for example, atheists). Other experts identify superstition with prejudice.

However, if the psychological structure of prejudice is dominated by elements of thinking, misunderstanding, usually inspired from the outside, emotions may be absent, then the psychological structure of superstition is dominated by a feeling of faith that inhibits thinking [164, p. 307].

Very clearly and figuratively noticed the nature of superstition Spinoza. He emphasized: “... Fear is the reason due to which superstition arises, remains and is maintained” [165, p. eight].

In this connection, it seems more correct to distinguish superstition as an independent phenomenon, classifying it as being placed between prejudice, on the one hand, and obsessive-compulsive neurosis, on the other.

In accordance with the methodological position adopted by us, superstition is a kind of quasi-resource that expands the psychological capabilities of a combatant. They allow you to cognitively organize, structure inexplicable, incomprehensible events, connections between objects and phenomena, make life in a combat situation more predictable, requiring less mental expenditures. For example, a person who believes in the "magic" power of a talisman can sleep more calmly, not experience various kinds of phobias, be active in battle until the talisman is with him. And on the contrary, he practically loses the qualities of a fighter in the event of his loss.

The following example from the combat life of the engineering battalion of the 5th guards motorized rifle division operating in Afghanistan, told by one of the officers, may testify to the strength of superstition.

“The deputy commander of our political battalion had a black cat brought from home. At first, as a joke, and then seriously, the officers believed that with the advent of the cat, the success of the combat operations of the personnel increased, the nighttime attacks of dushmans on the outreach organs stopped, the status of the battalion in the division increased, and so on. One day the cat disappeared and It happened that on that particular night one of the posts was shelled by gangsters. In the morning, the battalion commander singled out the best unit for searching and returning the "live mascot". Paradoxically, but a fact: as soon as the cat was caught, life in the battalion returned to normal. ”

Superstitions in a combat situation are manifested in the forms of wearing amulets and talismans, premonitions, guessing, taboos, obligatory customs, rites, rituals, prayers, conspiracies, myths, fatalism, etc.

Using the provisions of the Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language by S. I. Ozhegov and N. Yu. Shvedova, we will give the definitions of the listed phenomena.

An amulet is an object worn on the body and considered a magical remedy against illness, unhappiness.

Very close to the amulet in content is the concept of "talisman."

Talisman - a subject that brings its owner happiness, good luck. In contrast to the amulet, the talisman is more focused not on man’s preservation, but on increasing his joy, happiness, goodness, good luck, etc.

Amulets and talismans are "for all occasions" and amulets from specific misfortunes. As charms, amulets have been used by combatants at all times.

An example of this superstition is the enthusiasm of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II for collecting horseshoes, which significantly increased during the First World War.

Amulets were widely distributed in the Nazi army. In June 1942, a captured German pilot showed: “We are afraid of Russian pilots who go to the ram. Everybody is wearing amulets against a ram. ” One, a non-commissioned officer, was carrying a talisman in the form of a “security certificate”, which began with the words: “He who has this letter is guaranteed against an enemy bullet”. The amulet with the inscription was found at another, the chief corporal: “This object was tied around the neck of a dog, shot at it, and it remained intact ...” [104, p. 24].

SV Zakharik describes the following types of amulets, which were used by the airborne troops in Afghanistan [57, p. 114-118]:

• text with a prayer, sewn into the uniform (usually at the heart);

• PVC tubes attached to the wrist, in which pieces of matter were inserted with data about themselves;

• a discharged cartridge with a note (prayer; information about oneself, etc.) and with a chain, stored in the neck or in a pocket;

• bracelet on the wrist with engraved data on blood type and Rh factor;

• homemade medallions;

• tattoos on the left side of the chest, forearm, wrist or axilla, etc.

The study of S.V. Zakharik showed that 95% of the interviewed paratroopers believed in the intact strength of amulets and the need to wear them. 58.3% of them said that if they had a medallion, they feel more confident, calm, and psychologically stable.

Guessing - the assumption of the occurrence of any event in connection with the occurrence or not of another event.

Guessing in a combat situation is closely related to foreboding. So, the warrior counts the rockets flying upward and thinks: “If there are more than seven of them, I will stay alive” If there are less than seven rockets, then he has a feeling of imminent death. Soon it may disappear. But after a while, the fighter makes a guess: “If three more letters come from the house before the end of the month, I’ll come back alive from the war,” etc. It would seem that it is possible to prevent guessing by a strong-willed effort. However, as the study shows, the serviceman seems to play with fate, and this brings him temporary satisfaction. In the same case, when the guessing is completed successfully, he gets a powerful resource of calm, confidence in his invulnerability, fearlessness.

Premonition - a sense of expectation for something upcoming and unknown. Essentially, a premonition is an assumption (an assumption of an event, the probability of occurrence of which is not yet known), supplemented by a sense of anxious expectation. The substitution of an assumption by premonition is especially often carried out in an atmosphere of danger and nervous tension.

Many warriors anticipate injury or death. It is possible that the psychological mechanisms of victimhood behavior work, but premonitions often come true.

Prayer - the text pronounced when referring to God, to the saints.

In a combat situation, not so much canonical texts of prayers are used as prayers, prompted by mother and grandmother, invented by the military itself.
Often, this is not a prayer itself, but a promise to God to believe in him foolishly and to be his faithful slave if this or that event happens or does not happen.

Custom - traditionally established rules of social behavior.

An example of custom, manifested in the form of superstition, is the rule that existed in Afghanistan not to allow servicemen to be replaced in the coming months to take part in hostilities.

A sign is a phenomenon, an event which in the people, a social group is considered a prelude to something.

Ye. S. Senyavskaya cites one of the signs that took place in one of the reconnaissance battalions operating in Afghanistan. “If a wounded person who is in a faint and dizzy state touches his genitals, then he will surely die” [154, p. 242].

Ritual - the order of ceremonial actions, ceremonial.

In a combat situation, many warriors perform rituals in preparation for battle. At the same time, the order of execution of actions to prepare weapons, equipment, equipment, to take up a combat position, the presence of the same elements of uniforms or equipment, including those that have long been worn out (for example, worn to a vest, etc.), is strictly monitored. , etc. For example, the pilots in Afghanistan had the following ritual: before taking off for a combat mission, you must urinate on the aircraft’s wheel.

In a combat situation, military personnel also have patterns of ritual behavior carried out according to a certain algorithm (smiling, laughing, bantering themselves, and singing songs from the “ritual repertoire”) [57, p. 114-118].

Psychological "trajectory" of the influence of rituals on combat behavior includes the following elements:

• distraction from traumatic experiences by focusing on observing the algorithm of actions, pronouncing words, constructing images;

• passion for actions performed and transferring them from “protective” to “creative”;

Victimology is an area of ​​scientific knowledge that investigates the influence of victim behavior on the formation of the causes of an attempt on her.

• emotional reflection of the success of performing creative actions - emotional switching.

Ritual - a set of actions (established by custom or ritual), which embody any religious ideas, everyday traditions. Particularly clearly observed in the war are the rites of admission replenishment, departure on leave, farewell to the dead comrades, etc.

Taboo - a ban (secular or religious), imposed on any action, word, object, use or mention of which inevitably entail social or "religious-mystical" sanctions in the form of punishment, illness or death.

According to Herodotus, he skillfully used the taboo that existed among opponents to kill cats, the Persian king Cambyses. In the IV. BC e., besieging the city Peluzu, ordered the soldiers to pick up on the cat. And the inhabitants of the city decided: it’s better to surrender than to accept a battle in which so many sacred animals would perish.

V. A. Mezentsev writes that during the Great Patriotic War, some pilots and tankers tried not to be photographed before the battle. And willingly did it after the task was completed. It was considered equally bad augury to shave before a fight. To some extent, it was related to pilots and a superstitious sign of the left and right side: in order to avoid trouble, you should first wear a glove on the right hand [104, p. 27-28]. The paratroopers in Afghanistan, preparing for hostilities, strictly tabooed photographing, hemming a turnpike, writing letters home, it was considered unacceptable to ask for a combat mission.

Fatalism (from the Latin. Fetalis - fatal, Sheet - fate, fate) - the idea of ​​the inevitable predetermination of events in the world; faith in an impersonal fate (ancient stoicism), in unchanging divine predestination (especially characteristic of Islam), etc.

Many combatants are saved from traumatic reflections about the future with the help of the belief that fate decides everything, which presents a person only in a specific case when he can die, in other cases death will pass him by. Fatalism in war rises to the level of a certain worldview.

He showed it very vividly in his novel "Without Change on the Western Front" by E. M. Remarque. His main character reasons like this:

“The front is a cell, and the one who got into it has to, straining nerves, to wait for what happens next. We are sitting behind bars, the bars of which are the trajectories of the shells; we live in suspense of the unknown. We are surrendered to the power of chance. When a projectile flies at me, I can duck - and that’s all; I can not know where he will hit, and I can not influence him in any way.

It is this dependence on the case that makes us so indifferent. A few months ago I was sitting in a dugout and playing ramp; after a while I got up and went to visit my friends in another dugout. When I returned, there was almost nothing left from the first dugout: a heavy projectile smashed it softly. I again went to the second one and arrived just in time to help him dig it out - during that time he had time to fall asleep. They can kill me - it's a matter of chance. But the fact that I am alive is again a matter of chance. I can die in a well-secured dugout, crushed by its walls, and can remain unscathed, having lain for ten hours in an open field under heavy fire. Every soldier survives only thanks to a thousand different cases. And each soldier believes in the case and relies on it ”[140, p. 142].

E.Seniavskaya singled out and classified the superstitions and signs that existed during the war in Afghanistan, borrowed from the experience of past wars, partially modified and supplemented by the “originally Afghan”:

a) a system of taboos (bans) on certain actions on the eve of military operations (not to shave, not to wear clean underwear, not to give anyone your things, not to talk on certain topics);

b) performing certain rituals after returning from combat operations (“returned to the unit — look in the mirror”);

c) traditions and customs in relation to the dead (not to occupy a bed, not to remove things and a photo for 40 days, the traditional third toast; not to carry the things of the dead, not to take anything from the dead, not to show yourself the place where you hurt the other, and . P.);

d) storage of amulets and talismans (not necessarily religious symbols, although often amulets and body crosses served as talismans);

e) prayers (not necessarily traditional, often each with their own, amateur);

e) collective habits, developed according to the principle of expediency and further enshrined in the traditions of the combat unit;

g) giving any (as a rule, beyond the scope of the charters and instructions) rational actions of additional mystical burden-justification; h) traditions inherent in a particular military unit, often associated with a military specialty [153, p. 246-247].
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