- coenesthetic hallucination
- Also written as cenesthetic hallucination. Both terms translate loosely to 'hallucination of auto-somatic awareness'. They are used to denote a * somatic hallucination consisting of a peculiar visceral or other bodily sensation that cannot be explained by reference to any known physiological mechanism. Some examples of coenesthetic hallucinations are a scratching feeling against the inside of one's skull, and the feeling of a propeller turning around inside one's stomach. The term coenesthetic hallucination is also used in a broader sense to denote a hallucination involving the 'common sensation' or 'common general sensibility'. To clarify this connotation of the term coenesthetic hallucination, it is necessary to explain the notion of coenesthesis. The term coenesthesis is indebted to the Greek words koinos (communal) and aisthanesthai (to notice, to perceive). The introduction of the expression koine aisthesis has been attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC). The term was reintroduced during the late 18th century in the form of coenesthesis, or coenesthesia (in German Gemeingefühl) to denote the "common sensation" or "common general sensibility" arising from the sum of all bodily sense impressions. In everyday parlance, coenesthesis is the general feeling addressed by questions such as "How are you?" and "How do you feel?". Any attempt to answer these questions with more than the usual cordial counter question requires a brief inspection of one's status quo, involving issues such as "Am I hungry," "Do I feel any pain," "Do I feel rejected," "Is that really a headache kick-ingin,""AmIinlove,""Aremyshoelacestoo tight," and so on. In accordance with the 19th-century viewpoint, issues such as these combine to form one's coenesthetic feeling. As the Italian psychiatrist Eugenio Tanzi (1856-1934) explains, "The united and incessant exercise of the sensory functions is the perennial source, not only of all special information that is supplied to us regarding the external world and our body, but also of a general and indistinct, but often very active, consciousness that enables us from moment to moment to recognize the functional intactness of the body in all its parts, including those which, owing to being isolated and in a normal condition, never make themselves felt." Feelings historically relegated to the class of coenesthesis include pain, ticklish feelings, hunger, thirst, sexual lust, fatigue, and boredom. They are considered closely akin to affective states, and even to personality traits. Many of the classic textbooks of psychiatry refer to coenesthetic hallucinations, or disturbances ofcoenesthesis, as explanations for bizarre types of behaviour occurring in the context of serious mental disorder, including fasting, binge eating, pica, chronic inactivity, manic hyperactivity, excessive masturbation, and so on. Conceptually, the notion of coenesthetic hallucination is closely related to the notion of * distortion of vital sensation. Whether the two phenomena fulfil all the formal criteria of hallucinations proper is debatable. A rather different way in which the term coenesthetic hallucination is used stems from the 1982 Manual for the Assessment and Documentation of Psychopathol-ogy, which employs the term as a synonym for the general expression *bodily hallucination (which in turn is used as an umbrella term for the notions of * tactile hallucination and somatic hallucination). The notion of coenesthetic hallucination should not be confused with the notions of *coenesthetic autoscopy, *coenesthesiopathy, and *acenesthesia.ReferencesAsaad, G. (1990). Hallucinations in clinical psychiatry. A guide for mental health professionals. New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel.Guy, W., Ban, T.A., eds. (1982). The AMDP-system: Manual for the assessment and documentation of Psychopathology. Berlin: Springer.Schiller, F. (1984). Coenesthesis. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 58, 496-515.Tanzi, E. (1909). A text-book of mental diseases. Translated by Ford Robertson, W., Mackenzie, T.C. London: Rebman Limited.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.