Occultism is the study of supposed supernatural forces and the belief and attempt in the possibility of controlling them. Occultism is often associated with the practice of black magic and other rites for satanic or evil purposes. The object of the occultist may be esoteric knowledge, health, domination over others, wealth, psychic or physical powers, satisfaction of scientific curiosity, the performance of acts of religious ritual and worship, or to be a benefactor of humanity. Occultism thus appeals to, among others, megalomaniacs, would-be Messiahs and those with schizophrenic tendencies. The sense of possessing secret knowledge which develops in the occultist, aggravates existing personality disorders; and some of the techniques (magical, yogic) may be injurious to the physical health of the practitioners, their helpers, and their victims. Occultism may also be criminal.
Occultism occurs in developed countries, more especially among the rich, the effete, and the deviant. In primitive societies where the occult is part of the social structure, only certain people study and practice it.
The study of supranormal faculties of man which lie in the main beyond the range of readily and universally testable knowledge is a valid scientific endeavour in which thousands of universities, research organizations, and study groups have participated for more than 50 years. The study and control of the hidden forces of nature has been central to the entire history of science and has resulted in the discoveries of Pasteur, the Curies, and so many others who have unlocked cells, genes, molecules, atoms and stars to reveal their mysteries. The hostility against occultism is a manifestation of ignorance of its methods.