- The term assimilation comes from the Latin verb assimilare, which means to equalize. It was used by the German father of psychology Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) to denote the physiological process that enables the mind to fill in any blanks and ambiguities that may exist within the stream of perceptual information. As Wundt remarks, the hearing of spoken words depends in large measure upon our ability to fill in the less articulate parts by reference to familiar words and phrases. In his view, the other sensory modalities depend in equal measure upon the perceptual system's urge to create whole, consistent, and meaningful patterns. Or, as the American philosopher James Gibson (1904-1979) recapitulates this point of view, "The perceptual system hunts. It tries to find meaning, to make sense from what little information it can get." As Wundt points out, the process of assimilation may also be held responsible for the mediation of words and phrases out of animal voices, the rustling sound of water, the sound of the wind, and machine noises (i.e. the mediation of "functional hallucinations). Apparently, the American psychologist and philosopher William James (1842-1910) had a similar phenomenon in mind when he formulated his law of figured consciousness. When blanks or ambiguities within the stream of perceptual information are filled in erroneously, "illusions may arise. The term " functional hallucination has traditionally been reserved for actual hallucinations that arise in conjunction with background noises.ReferencesWundt, W. (1918). Einführung in die Psychologie. Leipzig: Dürr'sche Buchhandlung.James, W. (1952). The principles of psychology. Great books of the Western world no. 53.Edited by Hutchins, R.M. London: Encyclopaedia Brittanica.Gibson, J.J. (1966). The senses considered asperceptual systems. Boston, MA: Houghton Mif-flin Company.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.