passive illusion

passive illusion
   Also known as assimilative illusion. The term passive illusion was introduced in or shortly before 1881 by the British psychologist James Sully (1842-1923) to denote a variant of what he called illusions of interpretation (i.e. what are now called * cognitive illusions). In Sully's reading, passive illusions arise as a consequence of the false interpretation of a correctly perceived stimulus deriving from the extracorporeal environment, due to an inherent property of the object or stimulus in question. As he maintains, "For example, we fall into the illusion of hearing two voices when our shout is echoed back, just because the second auditory impression irresistibly calls up the image of a second shouter." Sully uses the term passive illusion in opposition to the term *active illusion. He illustrates the latter type of cognitive illusion by means of the following example: "A man experiences the illusion of seeing specters of familiar objects just after exciting his imagination over a ghost-story, because the mind is strongly predisposed to frame this kind of percept." As he concludes, "the first class of illusions arises from without, the senseimpression being the starting-point, and the process of preperception being controlled by this. The second class arises rather from within, from an independent or spontaneous activity of the imagination. In the one case the mind is comparatively passive; in the other it is active, energetically reacting on the impression, and impatiently anticipating the result of the normal process of preperception. Hence I shall, for brevity's sake, commonly speak of them as Passive and Active Illusions."
   Sully, J. (1881). Illusions: A psychological study. New York, NY: Humboldt Publishing Company.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.

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