delirium of the senses


delirium of the senses
   The German term Sinnesdelirien (i.e. delirium of the senses) was introduced in or shortly before 1885 by the Russian psychiatrist Victor Kandin-sky (1849-1889) to denote a type of "illusion commonly designated as "intermetamorphosis (i.e. Personenverwechselung in German). This type of illusion typically involves a situation in which an individual is regularly and consistently misidentified, and taken for a different person. This consistent misidentification is explained by Kandinsky in terms of a " pareidolia based on the distinctive facial features that two (or more) persons may have in common. In Kandinsky's own words, "Delirium of the senses is an external state of affairs, and mostly a singular, highly specific one, that calls forth the percept at hand. Should we not assume that the images of the individual persons that call forth these cases of mistaken identity correspond in various characteristic ways with the images of the true persons? And that that is why the complete, objective image and the schematic, subjective image fall into the same place, and why the mistake is thus called forth by an event that belongs to the process of sense perception?" Kandinsky uses the term delirium of the senses in opposition to the terms "sensory misperception (Sinnestäuschung), and " delirium of judgment (Urtheilsdelirien). Conceptually and in a classificatory sense, the delirium of the senses occupies a sort of middle ground - or perhaps one should say a common ground - between hallucination and illusion. As Kandinsky explains, "This type of illusion, the perceptual interchange delirium, as distinct from the cognitive interchange delirium, is therefore basically also a hallucination, distinguishing itself from the more regular hallucination only because the inner impulse, the inner anomaly is not sufficient for its occurrence, and that a certain exterior impulse must be added, so that the hallucination is not a complete one, but only a partial one." In a later passage Kandinsky adds that the term delirium of the senses also has a bearing on objects, and proposes that the term pareidolia be used as a generic term for all the various kinds of 'partial' hallucinations.
   References
   Berrios, G.E. (1981). Delirium and confusion in the 19th century: A conceptual history. British Journal of Psychiatry, 139, 439-449.
   Jouanna, J. (1999). Hippocrates. Translated by DeBevoise, M.B. Baltimore, MA: Johns Hopkins University Press.
   Lipowski, Z.J. (1985). Delirium (acute confusional state). In: Neurobehavioural disorders.Edited by Frederiks, J.A.M. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publications.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.

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