Self-fulfilling Prophecy

By | June 10, 2022

Everyone knows the phenomenon of seeing something happen that he expected. However, having a bad feeling about something can inevitably lead to it happening. This scientifically explainable phenomenon often falls under the expression of self-fulfilling prophecy.

What is self-fulfilling prophecy?

This everyday phenomenon, known in English as a self-fulfilling prophecy, is a phenomenon that can be located in sociology and psychology. The expected behavior of another person becomes reality through your own behavior. A certain type of action and interaction, which is feared or expected by the person concerned, is triggered by him or her by these very fears. For slang microangiopathy, please visit

For example, he significantly influences the behavior of another person through the signals he sends out himself. The opposite of the self-fulfilling prophecy is the self-destroying prophecy. In this case, the prophecy, i.e. the behavior of the other person, does not come true precisely because the person behaves accordingly.

The effects of actions and established attitudes were already mentioned at the beginning of the twentieth century by Otto Neurath, an economic theorist and educationalist, under the term self-fulfilling prophecy.


The reason for the functioning of self-fulfilling prophecies is the expectations that people have of certain people or situations. Humans can be influenced. So if he hears something negative about another person from one person, he will behave differently towards that person than if he had met them without this knowledge.

Depending on how much one’s own behavior is influenced by the experience of others, the more other people will notice it. Conversely, anyone who finds themselves to be rather unsympathetic will react accordingly. In this way, the prophecy previously made by the other person appears to attain its true essence. In other words, people tend to be more reserved towards people who approach them with a certain mistrust.

This leads to the usual everyday statements involving a fulfilled foreboding. The reason for this is the lack of knowledge about one’s own behavior. As a rule, those affected do not notice that they are at fault for what has happened and are not perceived as such.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Even if the person is unable to assess their behavior themselves, it can still be noticeable to others. A self-fulfilling prophecy is to be judged as such, especially for outsiders. Typical is the deviation of one’s own behavior from the norm or the usual standard. This can often be assessed much more easily by other people than by the person concerned.

Mental processes such as thinking, feeling, perceiving and behavior interact and influence not only the image of the other person or a situation, but also the self-assessment. Various examples illustrate how a self-fulfilling prophecy works. For example, deliberately spread rumors, disguised as predictions, can develop their own dynamic and be used in different ways.

The same applies to exams. For example, if a student talks himself into failing before the exam, this can actually lead to failure in the exam situation. The reason is often less the lack of skills than the expectations and fears, which lead to an increased stress level.

A very typical example is the fear of an increased heart rate or blood pressure before visiting a doctor. The assumed tension very often leads to the fulfillment of the expectation, even if the blood pressure is normally in the normal range. Therefore, doctors often do not take slight deviations too seriously. There are a number of other examples that fall into this category.

Diagnosis & course of disease

It is seldom easy for those affected to connect their expectations and what has happened. In order to understand what the reason for the confirmation of one’s assumption is, a recapitulation of the situation is necessary. Others can also help to assess the whole from the outside. In this way, recurrence can be mitigated.


It is doubtful whether a self-fulfilling prophecy can lead to complications. Rather, the nature of self-fulfilling prophecy plays a role in many complications. This applies in particular to patients who are hospitalized and their recovery processes.

So the negative expectation of treatment or recovery will also have a negative impact. This is due to the fact that an attitude of expectation unconsciously influences the vegetative activities of the body – and leads, for example, to symptoms of anxiety (palpitations, sweating, restlessness). These things can make treatment difficult.

Because overcoming the tendency to have these kinds of thoughts is hard to control, it is common for some people to view events around them more negatively and others more positively. Accordingly, the only thing that can be done is to ensure that a self-fulfilling prophecy is formulated positively so that the corresponding placebo effects and unconscious actions of the person concerned can occur.

The belief in the predetermination of fate also plays a role here. Overall, it has been shown that self-fulfilling prophecies in the form of fears (of falls, accidents) lead to more such events among those affected. This can generally be described as a negative consequence – or complication – in this context.

When should you go to the doctor?

Whether someone needs to consult a doctor for a self-fulfilling prophecy is questionable. An example would be when someone suffers from the fear of getting cancer for years and then actually discovers signs of such a condition.

Of course, someone who discovers signs of cancer needs to see a doctor quickly. The problem with the self-fulfilling prophecy, however, is that the sufferer is almost waiting for such signs to be discovered. There is a risk of misinterpretation. A proximity to hypochondria cannot be completely ruled out.

In and of themselves, self-fulfilling prophecies are not pathological. Most people deal with such phenomena several times in their lives without having to consult a doctor. We encounter self-fulfilling prophecies in the form of placebos. We ascribe effects to these, although they contain no active ingredients. Homeopathy or Bach flowers are also assumed to be nothing but a placebo with no active ingredient content.

Likewise, the nocebo effect can be an opposite self-fulfilling prophecy. Some patients believe that a drug will harm them and actually experience side effects. It is known that old people actually fall more often when they are afraid of it. But a self-fulfilling prophecy is only good for a doctor’s visit if it has caused a consequence that requires treatment. She herself does not require one.

Treatment & Therapy

Despite the knowledge, it can be difficult to prevent and actively work against a self-fulfilling prophecy. This requires complete control of your own body and a lot of willpower. Anyone who has tried to suppress physical reactions or feelings knows how difficult it can be.

Therefore, simply becoming aware of one’s own behavior is not always enough to counteract such a prophecy. However, in some cases, conscious training can help to keep your body under control and to trick any thoughts. It is also important to form your own image of a person or situation instead of taking the image of others as given.


This can be used to prevent an undesirable effect in various situations. However, self-fulfilling prophecies also work the other way around – in a positive sense. Therefore, there is also the possibility to adapt positively to situations. A generally positive attitude can help influence those around you in a sympathetic way and control emotions accordingly. This also makes it easier to approach exam situations or to avoid the shock of the next doctor’s visit.


The self-fulfilling prophecy is often closely linked to the patient’s beliefs or superstitions. Anxiety is often associated with this syndrome. So it is important that after the therapy, the risk of a relapse is kept as low as possible through consistent follow-up care. Follow-up care for the self-fulfilling prophecy can be discussed with the psychologist. Active cooperation of the patient is necessary in all cases.

First of all, it is important to keep discovering situations in which a patient’s prophecy has not been fulfilled. In this way, the belief that thinking about a bad outcome can actually cause it is gradually reduced. Ideally, this continuously reduces and stabilizes the patient’s fears. In aftercare, for example, the patient can keep a list that after a while clearly demonstrates that prophecies have no significant connection with reality.

People who are confronted with the self-fulfilling prophecy as a psychological problem often have inner restlessness and tension even after the therapy. This is where relaxation techniques can be an effective tool. In courses, for example, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training or yoga can be learned. The exercises learned can then simply be continued at home as part of aftercare if required.

You can do that yourself

The self-fulfilling prophecy is closely linked to negative thoughts in the person concerned. Therefore, self-help is not only possible, but an important factor in the process of recovery. The first step in the right direction can be, for example, to keep in mind how many events in life have a positive outcome and that these are clearly in the majority. Conversations with family or friends can also help to gradually overcome a negative mood. Lists in which positive and negative experiences are compared show that negative thinking only rarely has a real basis.

In severe cases, going to a psychologist is helpful. But psychotherapeutic treatment is also linked to self-help, since it requires insight and cooperation from the person concerned in order to successfully treat the self-fulfilling prophecy as a negative basic attitude. This means that in the sessions with the psychologist, not only the causes of this thinking are discussed, but also concrete instructions for action as exercises, which are then implemented at home in everyday life. A self-help group can also be helpful, since the exchange with like-minded people helps those affected by the understanding they receive, as does concrete tips that experienced group members can often give.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy