February 25, 2024
Psychiatry Supernatural

Ouija Board : Medical Explanation

  • November 14, 2010
  • 3 min read
Ouija Board : Medical Explanation

“We call upon the spirits among us who wish to communicate. Please come fort and make yourself known to us.”

The Ouija Board with Planchette

Despite of being invented and sold as a game, people claim that ouija board is not a game but a tool to communicatewith a spirit or demon involving various supernatural risks. After hearing about the experience of Ouija from my friends during the community diagnosis which they claim to be real, I gained interest in this matter and gathered a lot of information and experiences of people available in the internet. The saying “Curiosity overcomes the fear” defines the reason for the use of ouija despite of its scary and freaky theme of communicating with the dead. However, my Ouija sessions never brought any results and rather ended as joke probably because something was wrong.

About believing or not believing

The debate among the believers the and non-believers have always existed and shall exist when talking about the supernatural phenomenons. Science do not allow any supernatural explanation as a foundation and always seeks the natural laws and processes for the explanation. While Ouija believers feel the paranormal or supernatural is responsible for Ouija’s action, it is explained by science as a ideomotor effect. So, it depends upon you whether to believe or not and which theory convinces you. My experience as a believer has remained inconsistent because I can’t deny the explanation that medical science has put forward.

What is Ouija Board?

“Ouija” pronounced as “wee-ja” is a blend of French word “Oui” and German word “Ja” both meaning “Yes” in English. Ouija board is usually a paper or a wooden board with numbers, alphabets and words (Yes, no and goodbye) theoretically used to communicate with the spirit or demon. A planchette or a coin is employed to spell out words and point out numbers or letters. The Ouija board was first introduced to the American public in 1890 as a parlor game sold in novelty shops.

“Ideomotor Effect and Automatism” – Medical Answer to Ouija Action

It is a phrase coined by psychologist/physiologist William B. Carpenter in 1852 and widely publicized by psychologist William James who concluded that all mental representations of body motion will cause some degree of actual motion depending only on whether there is a simultaneously occurring antagonistic thought that represses the full manifestation of the motion. Ideomotor actions are unconscious, involuntary motor movements that are performed by a person because of prior expectations, suggestions or preconceptions. Skeptics believe that the movement of planchette or coin in Ouija Action is either due to the ideomotor effect or due to the movement made consciously (kind of cheating). They claim that the Ouija board opens a kind of shortcut from the conscious to the subconscious mind and collective automatism occurs when more than one person is operating the board. Not only Ouija Board but automatic writing, dowsing (water witching), the magic pendulum, certain aspects of mesmerism, spiritualists’ table turning, and Reichenbach’s Odylic force have also been the victim of this phenomenon.

Mechanism or physiology of ideomotor effect

Experiment As an Evidence:

While blindfolded, the operators or medium can give coherent answers easily, but if the board itself is turned 180° without their knowledge, they move the planchette to the locations that they think the letters are, as if the board was rotated correctly, rather than where it really is.

Videos About Ouija Board:

A. A short horror movie about the Ouija

B. Ouija Board Revealed

About Author

Sulabh Shrestha

Intern doctor and Medical Blogger Sulabh Shrestha


  • Great informative post. I had doubts about this board, but didn’t pursue for the reasons. So, this is a enlightening one. Keep ur good work going.

  • is not good to believe in silly things, which state that you will heal in one or another thing, it really is better to have a good health care and stop prioritizing the Ouija.

    Jopseph Winsconsin

    • Yes, That’s the thing we are trying, ‘Fight superstitions’ with Medical and scientific reasonings.

  • The Ouija Board has been manufactured now for over 100 years, billed as “the Wonderful Talking Board” in 1901 when a businessman named William Fuld stole the idea from his boss Charles Kennard, and an associate named Elijah Bond who’d created something similar in 1890. The name “Ouija” simply was a blend of the two words “Oui”,” (Yes” in French), and “Ja” (Yes in German), presumably to give it the enticement of mystery. .It contains no electronically moving parts, no battery-operated gizmos, yet it is has a pointer to move around the board and a letter/number board with “yes” and “no” listed. Sold in toy sections of stores it sends a mistaken message that it is a safe, harmless, whimsical board game, just because it’s in the same section with the chess boards and checker boards, etc. It truly isn’t

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