Here is an excerpt describing a case study of a boy who thought that missing his ritual caused the 9/11 attacks. These ideas of thoughts causing catastrophic results is commonly known as thought action fusion.

Researchers in London have documented the case of a ten-year-old boy with obsessive compulsive symptoms, who believed the terror attacks of 9/11 occurred because he had failed to complete one of his daily rituals.

The boy – described as “extremely pleasant and likeable” and with good school grades – was first referred for consultation a year before 9/11 took place.

Robertson next saw the boy two weeks after 9/11, at which point he was in a terrible state – “tortured”, as he put it, by his tics, and wracked with guilt, believing that 9/11 occurred because he had failed to walk on a particular white mark on a road.

This was just one of the many rituals the boy had developed during the course of the year. Others included so-called “dangerous touching” rituals, including the need to feel the blade of knives to check their sharpness, and to put his hand in the steam of a kettle to check its heat.

Importantly, the researchers said the boy’s beliefs about 9/11 were distinct from the kind of delusions expressed by people with psychosis, and instead reflected an extreme form of the anxiety that people with obsessive compulsive disorder often experience when they fail to complete their rituals.

Robertson, M., Cavanna, A. (2008). The Disaster was my Fault!. Neurocase DOI: 10.1080/13554790802001395