- collective hallucination
- Also known as collective percipience and collective apparition. All three terms are indebted to the Latin adjective collectivus, which means gathered or united. They are used to denote a rare type of hallucination that is shared by a limited number of individuals (typically two or three), and which those individuals believe to be *veridicaloratleast * coincidental in nature. The German hallucinations researcher Edmund Parish (1861-1916) distinguishes collective hallucinations from * epidemic hallucinations, using the latter term exclusively for cases where great crowds of people are overcome by the - hysterical - notion of sharing a common hallucinatory percept. Explanations for the working mechanism of collective hallucinations range from sheer chance to an 'infectious' type of telepathy to the so-called 'psychical invasion' of certain places by spiritual powers. Perhaps the most plausible explanation, at least from the vantage point of the biomedical paradigm, stems from the British mathematician and parapsychologist George Nugent Merle Tyrrell (1897-1952). As suggested by Tyrrell, collective hallucinations may well be promoted by the physical presence of percipients in a shared environment, which in turn suggests to them a shared idea-pattern or percept. However, Tyrrell's solution would seem to stand and fall with the assumption that each of the percipients must be considered prone to hallucinatory activity (or, in a parapsychological reading, must be considered 'connected telepathically' to an agent actually present). In the context of the late 19th-century * Census of Hallucinations, in which 27,329 individuals were polled in Great Britain, Germany, France, and the United States, collective hallucinations formed 8% of the total. Parish collected and critically examined a number of historical reports of collective hallucinations, concluding that they were most likely indebted to suggestion and/or a shared preoccupation of the individuals involved (for example, with a feared or beloved person, or with the impending arrival of enemy troops). In addition, he points out the possible influence of peculiar environmental and/or atmospheric circumstances, such as dusk, foggy weather, or the moment immediately following a thunderstorm, which might be of aid in creating suitable * points de repère for hallucinations or * illusions. Finally, Parish presents various reports of collective hallucinations that he attributes to * physical illusions such as * mirages. One such case was described by him as follows. "So early as 1785 the appearance of spectral soldiers on several days in January and February, at Ujest (Silesia), was explained by mirage, which rendered visible a detachment of troops marching to the funeral of a certain General von Cosel."ReferencesBrierre de Boismont, A. (1859). On hallucinations. A history and explanation ofapparitions, visions, dreams, ecstasy, magnetism, and somnambulism. Translated by Hulme, R.T. London: Henry Renshaw.Parish, E. (1897). Hallucinations and illusions. A study ofthe fallacies ofperception. London:Walter Scott. Sidgwick, H., Johnson, A., Myers, F.W.H., Pod-more, F., Sidgwick, E. (1894). Report on the census ofhallucinations.In: Proceedings ofthe Society for Psychical Research. Volume XXVI. Part X. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner &Co.Tyrrell, G.N.M. (1953). Apparitions. Revised edition. London: The Society for Psychical Research.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.