A Cross Cultural Study of Evil Eye Symbols and Amulets

Graduation Date

Fall 2006

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Gregory White, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Gwen Sanders, MFT, ART-BC


This research paper investigates the historical meaning and significance of the Evil Eye as it relates to various cultures. Through gaining an understanding of the general meanings behind the Evil Eye concept, and its corresponding symbols and amulets, an enhanced view of the prevalence and significance of this topic is established. The research design encompasses a historical and cross cultural investigation of both the symbols related to the Evil Eye, and the various possible meanings behind the belief of this culture bound syndrome (also known in the DSM-IV as Mai de Ojo). Sections in this research cover the relationship of the Evil Eye to Envy and Jealously, Superstition,

Magical thinking, Jung’s notion of the Shadow, Protection and Safety needs, and more The power of image is established by the fact that the use of Evil Eye amulets have persisted cross culturally for centuries.

This research also includes an investigation of the current Evil Eye beliefs in the United States; concluding that numerous people, from various cultures, do presently find meaning in the phenomenon of the Evil Eye, or in the cultural connection that can be found by use of related amulets. Possible ways for art therapists to incorporate amulets in their art therapy practice is provided, as well as various suggestions for working with multicultural clients who have connections to the Evil eye.

Only available in print