Conspiracy theories have occupied increasingly larger domains of cultural and political life. Conspiracism seems to replace or supplement fundamentalist religious beliefs while it supplies material that is in turn used for endorsing political and ideological agendae. Similarities between conspiratorial thinking and fundamentalist creed can be explained by the dynamics of inferiority of consciousness and the subsequent inflation of the ego by the ‘contents’ of the Self. Inadequate and non-credible representations of numinous energies in consciousness unwittingly contribute to the creation of structures with notable mythological parallels. This phenomenon that Jung referred to as an ‘axiom of psychology’ can explain both the archetypal nature of conspiracism and its resistance against rational correction. (Jung 1951, para. 277) Conspiratorial thinking is free from the unconscious influence of the Self only to the extent that it is able to recognize and to relate to the numinous contents on one hand and to withdraw projections from the object on the other. A symbolic perspective offers a non-dismissive understanding of the reasons for strong adherence to conspiracy theories. Exploring conspiracy theories as symbols rather than rational constructs offers more fruitful solutions to given problem.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines conspiracy theory as ‘the theory that an event or phenomenon occurs as a result of a conspiracy between interested parties; specifically, a belief that some covert but influential agency (typically political in motivation and oppressive in intent) is responsible for an unexplained event’ (Oxford University Press, 2009, s.v. 4, p.1).

Conspiracy theory is a strongly held persuasion that secret, often illegal and detrimental plots are carried out by humans, superhumans, or extraterrestrial powerful beings (aliens) with the aim to acquire a certain advantage over other humans typically by exploiting their money, resources or other forms of physical or psychological energy. Most conspiracy theories are concerned with harmful ‘enemies’ but there are also not-so-prevalent beliefs in ‘angelical’ forces who intend to undo adversary conspiracies. (Walker, 2013, p. 17)[1] The first use of the terminology appears in journals in 1871, however I propose that the psychological phenomenon might correlate with the development of consciousness.[2]


 The word ‘conspiracy’ derives from the Latin con- (‘with, together’) and spirare (‘to breathe’) and suggests a secret plotting amongst individuals to do something harmful or unlawful. The word theory derives from Greek theoria, ‘contemplation, speculation, a looking at, things looked at’, from theorein ‘to consider, speculate, look at’, from theoros ‘spectator’, from thea ‘a view’ + horan “’o see”. (Merriam-Webster online, n.d., p.1) Theory is an abstract speculation or a system of ideas intended to explain a phenomenon or phenomena based on general principles independent of obvious facts to be explained. Conspiracy theory thus combines two aspects of a psychological operation: belief and its rationale. Conspiracy theories, as a rule, always attribute some ideas to aspects of reality that are not evidently verifiable.


[1] Walker J., A United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory, HarperCollins, 2013.

[2] Part IV. Psychological News, The Journal of Mental Science, Volume 16, publ. Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1871.