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Visual Hallucinations Are a Normal Grief Reaction

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the who-goes-there dept.

Medicine 550

Hugh Pickens writes "Vaughn Bell has written an interesting essay at Scientific American about grief hallucinations. This phenomenon is a normal reaction to bereavement that is rarely discussed, although researchers now know that hallucinations are more likely during times of stress. Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common, to the point where feeling the presence of the deceased is the norm rather than the exception. A study by Agneta Grimby at the University of Goteborg found that over 80 percent of elderly people experience hallucinations associated with their dead partner one month after bereavement, as if their perception had yet to catch up with the knowledge of their beloved's passing. It's not unusual for people who have lost a partner to clearly see or hear the person about the house, and sometimes even converse with them at length. 'Despite the fact that hallucinations are one of the most common reactions to loss, they have barely been investigated and we know little more about them. Like sorrow itself, we seem a little uncomfortable with it, unwilling to broach the subject,' writes Bell. 'We often fall back on the cultural catch all of the "ghost" while the reality is, in many ways, more profound.' "

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And yet.... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974045)

Yet, there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...

Re:And yet.... (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974141)

Good point.

Re:And yet.... (4, Funny)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974487)

Bad point. There may well be less things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of. Especially if you consider for instance pre-election rethoric as dreams.

Re:And yet.... (4, Insightful)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974877)

Like sorrow itself, we seem a little uncomfortable with it, unwilling to broach the subject,' writes Bell. 'We often fall back on the cultural catch all of the "ghost" while the reality is, in many ways, more profound.' "

I think you may be inadvertently particlaly correct. I believe there are both more and less things here on Earth than we think. Less ghosts and spirits, more real things like elbowed squid and shrimp that breathe methane and live in 500 C thermal vents.

Truthfully though, I think the reason people are uncomfortable to research it is who wants to tell the 70 year old woman that the conversation she had last night with her dead husband that has now brought her some peace was a hallucination/dream?

Besides, the researchers may well find themselves on the other end of that hallucination.

Re:And yet.... (-1, Redundant)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974771)

...I see dead people.

Imagine that (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974831)

On the human brain: Large enough to support a vast, fertile imagination, yet still too small to often recognize imagination for what it is.

Re:And yet.... (3, Interesting)

yakmans_dad (1144003) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974963)

My father was in the hospital when my grandmother (his mother) came by to see how he was recovering. Pretty well, he said. They talked of this and that and finally my father had to mention that though he was pleased that Grandma had stopped by he was puzzled because she'd died the month before.

A couple of years later, after Dad died, he came by to see me and would have said something except that his mouth had been sewn shut.

What if.. (2, Funny)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974051)

..they are actually not hallucinating? (I, for one, welcome our dead, elderly, overlords)

Re:What if.. (5, Insightful)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974341)

Of course it's happening in your head, but why on earth should that mean it's not real?

Re:What if.. (4, Funny)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974721)

who you gonna call?

Re:What if.. (1)

Noroimusha (1267584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974849)

who you gonna call?

ghostbusters!

Ghosts (4, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974053)

One thing that the death of someone I loved has proved to me is that there are no ghosts, and certainly no afterlife.

The dead only live on in people's memories.

Re:Ghosts (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974117)

One thing that the death of someone I loved has proved to me is that there are no ghosts, and certainly no afterlife.

How exactly did someone's death prove there is no afterlife? I can understand not believing in an afterlife, but how did someone you love's dying prove it?

Re:Ghosts (5, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974419)

Dug 'em up, they were still in there.

Re:Ghosts (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974491)

One thing that the death of someone I loved has proved to me is that there are no ghosts, and certainly no afterlife.

How exactly did someone's death prove there is no afterlife? I can understand not believing in an afterlife, but how did someone you love's dying prove it?

Seems like a very subjective opinion, and no "proof" as such.

I can only assume he was referring to the fact that his grief caused him to feel that the person was still there (i.e. hallucinating), and this experience was resembling the "ghost" phenomenon to such an extent that he can see why people would think there are ghosts.

Re:Ghosts (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974621)

Because belief in an afterlife didn't make him feel any better. Since that was in fact its major selling point, as an all purpose disaster recovery solution, he wisely decided not to renew the license after the incident.

People really need to understand that while religious solution providers have great marketing departments, by objective measures their systems leave a lot to be desired and often don't justify the TCO, or the inevitable lock in to the providers total solution suite.

Re:Ghosts (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974887)

Sound like you need Open Source Religion! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ghosts (5, Funny)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974913)

How exactly did someone's death prove there is no afterlife? I can understand not believing in an afterlife, but how did someone you love's dying prove it?/

He postulated his epistemology a priori then pronounced it a posteriori posthumously.

Probably.

Eh (5, Insightful)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974055)

Yes, misfiring braincells are way more profound than the possibility of a life after death and all that it entails.

Re:Eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974229)

I find both concepts profound.

Of course I'm dead due to misfiring brain cells.

Re:Eh (4, Funny)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974359)

Of course I'm dead due to misfiring brain cells.

No no, you're pining for the fjords.

Re:Eh (1)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974909)

Well, we'll have to replace him then.

Re:Eh (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974531)

Right, and what type of life after death would meet your profundity criteria?
Surely not some kind life 2.0 in the sky I hope?

Re:Eh (2, Interesting)

Jamu (852752) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974619)

They've seen their partner almost everyday for several years, and when they suddenly disappear, they occasionally see them for a bit afterwards. The adaptability of the human brain is less than perfect.

Re:Eh (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974773)

Well, when your loved one dies and you start seeing things, take a picture. Because until I see hard evidence, I think it's safe to say that misfiring brain cells are a *far* more likely explanation for this particular phenomenon.

Morning (4, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974069)

Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common

Yes, this is very common, and is usually attributed to the caffeine withdrawal symptoms prior to morning coffee.

Re:Morning (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974571)

A lot of early morning hallucinations probably also come when a person is still asleep, but doesn't realize it. I saw a documentary on sleep research not long ago where they showed that during certain phases of a sleep cycle, a person could actually be asleep and still think they're awake. People in these phases would often interpret lingering sleep paralysis as some weight on their chest, not realizing it was just the remnants of them dreaming.

ship siren (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974981)

I've used my phone as my alarm clock, and the alarm was set to a 'ship siren', a truly fearsome, horribly loud and mean signal.

One morning I just couldn't get myself to wake up.
Then one of the characters in my dream scolded me:
"What the hell are you doing? This is the Fucking Rabid Titanic. These who ignored this signal were found in the morning smeared on the wall over their bed."

woke me up.

I think I have observed this! (4, Interesting)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974071)

For several weeks after a beloved cat of mine died, I swear I saw him out of the corner of my eye a few times! Most of the "hallucinations" were brief glimpses, but one I particularly remember I turned a corner and swear I saw him sitting there. I even said involuntarily "Hi, Prince..." then realized after a few seconds that nothing was there. Pretty creepy, huh? After about a month or so I stopped "seeing" him around. So long, my friend.

Less complex explanation... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974085)

That's quite clearly just a simple glitch in the Matrix.

Re:I think I have observed this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974109)

I can has cheeseburger?

Re:I think I have observed this! (2)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974149)

I can has cheeseburger?

Correction: 'i can haz cheezburger?'

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974181)

i can haz a livin' body? (creeeeeepy)

Re:I think I have observed this! (5, Funny)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974241)

You're all wrong.

i can haz 10 livs?

Re:I think I have observed this! (5, Interesting)

pdh11 (227974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974189)

I turned a corner and swear I saw him sitting there. I even said involuntarily "Hi, Prince..."

Stories like this make me wonder whether we actually hallucinate the presence of cats, maybe even people, all the time, and it's only when it happens after the cat has passed away that we think twice about such events and realise that they must have been hallucinations...

Peter

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

tacet (1142479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974415)

welcome to solipsism.

Re:I think I have observed this! (0, Redundant)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974443)

... now go home.

Re:I think I have observed this! (3, Funny)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974613)

I have been told "You don't exist, go away!" [cygwin.com] . Perhaps that was no error message.

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974783)

Thats funny, that was my reaction. How much of our daily existence do we hallucinate out of habit, and not even notice because it fits nicely. And if your brain can add things, how much does it "edit" out things that are there. And finally, how could you disprove that the things you see are not real? It does open up some interesting ideas.

I only wish I had hallucinations of my late kitty (1)

h4x354x0r (1367733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974213)

But I see pictures of him every day on my computer's desktop background. Maybe I don't need to hallucinate about him because of that.

He was the coolest. He was given to me as a father's day gift. His name was Dude, and he fit that name perfectly. He was only 4 years old and showed up one morning out of the blue with some kind of brain disorder. I never thought I saw or heard him again, I just cried a lot.

Re:I only wish I had hallucinations of my late kit (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974271)

I wonder that if your cat was named "The Dude", instead of just "Dude", he'd be the one hallucinating. I think it'd be great to have "The Dude" sleeping in your carpet :)

Re:I only wish I had hallucinations of my late kit (2, Funny)

saider (177166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974339)

It ties the whole room together!

Re:I only wish I had hallucinations of my late kit (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974617)

That would be one cat you would be HONORED to have pee on your rug.

you shouldnt have let him out (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974507)

or, when you did, you should have done it controlled, with you waiting on top of him and keeping him in sight at all times.

MOD +1 Cute (1)

g253 (855070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974315)

eom

Re:I think I have observed this! (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974493)

In the same way a human brain seems wired to see recognizable patterns in random material, I think a part of us is also hard-wired to seek familiarity and anticipate familiar sights by "seeing" them before they actually appear. That's why it's so shocking (or even traumatizing) when you see the same sight your whole life, only to have it disappear or radically change one day. I remember one story from a New Yorker after 9-11 who said he occasionally still spotted the towers out of the corner of his eye because he was so used to them being there.

Most humans find comfort in the familiar. And when it's not there, it can be very hard for us to accept--and take even more time for the brain to adjust to that absence.

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974933)

My wife as a child frequently saw her mothers old dog - who died before she was born.

Completely wierd.. presumably some sort of memory that got inherited but these things do happen quite a lot.

I wonder why it doesn't happen more often with inanimate objects - eg. if you've had the same TV for years then upgrade it, do some people sometimes see the old TV?

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

bencollier (1156337) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974547)

Exactly the same here! I would see my cat in the places that he used to sit. Very strange indeed, something odd going on there (in my head).

Obligatory (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974583)

Good night, sweet Prince

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974645)

Not to me, it's not. We had a dog when we were first married who was much loved by everyone. She died at a ripe old age, and mostly due to work and school commitments, we didn't get another dog. Years later we had two scary break-ins/robberies in three months. In the aftermath, I began to hear her footsteps on the hardwood floor, just as I always had when she was living. The only problem is we have carpeted floors. I like to think I'm fairly rational, so I looked into my own mind, and the message was fairly obvious: "You'll feel safer if you get a dog."

I'm not surprised that people experience this type of hallucination in times of grief or stress. I'd view it as more of a confirmation of or even a tribute to the deep attachments we form to those we love.

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

GogglesPisano (199483) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974763)

My grandfather talked about hearing my grandmother's voice in the house and seeing her (out of the corner of his eye) for several years after her death.

My other family members attributed his claims at various times to imagination, dreams, wishful thinking, senility, and (depending on their beliefs) ghosts.

My grandparents were happily married for over 60 years. I believe that after all that time, he had become so accustomed to to seeing and hearing his wife that his senses just "filled in the blanks".

you did (2, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974769)

it takes time for a soul passed to the other side to adjust to higher frequency and eventually become unperceptible for us.

Re:I think I have observed this! (0, Redundant)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974775)

For several weeks after a beloved cat of mine died, I swear I saw him out of the corner of my eye

Don't worry it was just a glitch in the Matrix :)

Re:I think I have observed this! (1)

TXG1112 (456055) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974807)

This happened to me too when I lost my cat this summer. I think it's a pretty common phenomenon and is a function of the fact that "vision" as we perceive it is largely dependent on memory. We only see objects in general terms and our memories fill in the details. My cat was black, and I kept seeing him in dark corners of the room. It's the same effect as when we think we recognize someone and we're sure it's them only to find out it's someone else entirely.

Waiting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974093)

Psychosomatic auditory hallucinations...

Most people have to pay for such a thing.

In my case they were very vivid (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974129)

But that's because the only time I ever lost a friend (you expect to lose grandparents) all the young folk she knew went and dropped acid. It's what she would have wanted...

Eternal (0, Offtopic)

Sanat (702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974203)

I believe that life is eternal and that our body(ies) are like shirts. If one gets torn on a nail or worn out then it is discarded and a new one is put on for a new life experience.

The eternal part of us certainly can travel and assist the grieving family members just by being present with them. Time and space is an illusion and the only moment we have is the present one. Basically all time is now.

The eternal part of us knows only love... we as a body tend to exist in a state of fear and yet after enough lifetimes we (our consciousness) tends to shift from the fear side towards the love side.

To call this phenomena a hallucination seems to be a great stretch on somebody's part and certainly such an assumption is not from a level playing field. Of course, for those in fear of an afterlife... calling it a hallucination reduces the personal impact that it might have.

Love? (2, Interesting)

vorpal22 (114901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974275)

One thing I never understand about certain religions and spiritual beliefs is this importance that's placed on love. Sure, love is a powerful force that we generally consider "good", but love can be quite dark and twisted at times, and certainly hate can easily be just as powerful in terms of what one will accomplish in the name of it, and heck, it can definitely be very rewarding, too.

Why does love get touted around on a pedestal like it's some miracle thing? Seems a little silly to me. Any emotion can be beneficial when used in the appropriate context and detrimental when it isn't. Love is no different, and not particularly worth special praise.

Re:Love? (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974371)

There is such a thing as righteous anger as well, but there are also different types of love.

Re:Love? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974377)

Romanticism.

Re:Love? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974537)


Love, particularly that which transcends sexuality is a connection and a breaking down of barriers between individuals. It is akin to empathy and fundamental to co-operation, sacrifice and nurturing. It is what stops many negative things arising where they otherwise would - fear of others, rivalries, greed. And the more encompassing love is - partner to family to community to mankind - the greater these effects. That's why the emphasis on love. Plus, you know, it feels good. :)

Love and hugs,
H4rm0ny

Re:Love? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974633)

the 'love' you are speaking about is not love. its obsession.

Re:Love? (1)

tolgyesi (1240062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974671)

Love is what keeps human communities together. Other emotions mostly direct people to act for themselves. Rules may be created to more or less force them to act in the interests of the community, but if long term stability is a concern, there is not much that is better than love.
Of course, unjust things can be done in its name as well, but I don't think that is what the religions want (in theory).

Re:Love? (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974879)

Sure, love is a powerful force that we generally consider "good", but love can be quite dark and twisted at times,

Yeah, at which point, it ain't love anymore. At best it's infatuation. More likely, it's obsession. But it sure ain't love.

Why does love get touted around on a pedestal like it's some miracle thing?

Because love is what ties people together. It binds mother to child, husband to wife, friend to friend. It's a constructive, creative force, and it's ultimately the foundation human society is built upon.

'course, I'm not sure I really understood any of this until I met my wife. Love isn't what you think it is when you're experiencing a high school infatuation.

Re:Love? (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974975)

"What about love?"

"Love? Biochemically no different than eating large amounts of chocolate."

~the Devil on Love.

Re:Eternal (2, Insightful)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974355)

Do you have any proof for such assertions? The most simple explanation is: we each have one life, it stops when your brain dies. End of story.

simple (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974601)

conservation of energy.

nothing comes out of nonexistence, and nothing goes to nonexistence. they only transform.

this is a universal rule, dont err - it does not only relate to electricity, heat and whatnot, it is valid for EVERY kind of thing. you have to go a bit theoretical and philosophical here.

a human is also an entity and a form of energy, in addition to the body mass and the heat it generates.

but the effect of an entity (any living entity) is much more greater than its bodily production - imagine cities around you, machines, works of art, music, anything -> every existent thing is a part of this universe, and they are various forms of energy themselves.

the simple point is this, if a human entity complex's total energy had been as much as the bodily heat it generates and mass it contains, physically it should have been impossible for 20 of them to combine and create exponentially higher impact on their environment. therefore, their power should not be limited to their bodily complex's heat and mass, there has to be more, some form of energy which we dont know about. this is not too far fetched when you think that at the time bohr introduced his atom model, we didnt know that that atom nuclei contained energy that could destroy cities.

therefore, philosophically, according to conservation of energy (existence actually), nothing comes out of nonexistence, and nothing goes to nonexistence.

this tells that when a human complex dies, there is some other form of energy released that equals everything that human complex did in his life minus his body mass and heat.

Re:simple (5, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974995)

a human is also an entity and a form of energy, in addition to the body mass and the heat it generates.

No, it's not.

physically it should have been impossible for 20 of them to combine and create exponentially higher impact on their environment.

I can't even describe how incredibly wrong and stupid this statement is. By this definition termites must have some sort of "higher energy" (ever seen an African termite nest [branchy.com] ?).

therefore, philosophically, according to conservation of energy

Good Christ, man. Now you're going to try to co-opt the laws of conservation of energy, despite clearly having no idea what you're talking about? Here, let me explain it to you:

The sun beams energy, in the form of radiation, to Earth.
Plants convert that radiation into chemical energy.
I eat that chemical energy.
I then expend said chemical energy welding a girder to a skyscraper.

Hey, look at that, I'm increasing the order of my local universe by utilizing energy provided to me by the sun. No magic needed.

this tells that when a human complex dies, there is some other form of energy released that equals everything that human complex did in his life minus his body mass and heat.

And that tells me that you're so desperate to believe that you'll survive after you're dead that you'll make up basically anything. You know, like Jesus did.

Let me make this simple: when you die, you're dead. Your body decomposes, and the various compounds that make up your corpse enter the food chain. That's it. So make the best of this life. It's the only one you get, and once it's done, it's *done*.

Re:Eternal (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974467)

If I had a cosy delusion like that, I'd not want to believe in hallucinations either.

Re:Eternal (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974805)

Okay, who let Joan Baez on slashdot?

Re:Eternal (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974997)

Time and space is an illusion

Lunchtime doubly so

Jesus. (2, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974207)

I'm not trying to start a flamewar (seriously), but I wonder if this is what happened when Jesus' disciples reportedly met with him after his death.

Although that would require multiple people to have similar hallucinations at the same time, since some of the accounts describe Jesus meeting with groups of disciples after his death.

Re:Jesus. (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974399)

Didn't you read the thread about the guy reanimating things yesterday? Jesus inhaled sulfur dioxide when he went into the cave. ;-)

Re:Jesus. (2, Informative)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974449)

Or, you know, a writer taking liberties decades after the fact.

Couldn't this also mean (5, Interesting)

theilliterate (1381151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974251)

That in 80% of cases some remnant, some energy of that person was left behind? Just because it happens frequently doesn't mean it is *not* supernatural in nature.

Do they have MRIs of people while they are experiencing a hallucination like this? Something to show the brain is dreaming, and not simply observing?

By the same token, I suppose we can't really prove that there is an observation going on. I've had family members relate to me that they remember a sequence of events, in a very specific way. I remember the same events differently. Either we are people from different dimensions who have slipped between worlds to share this one, or we have altered our own memories to suit what we would have liked to happen. One of these is more consistent with current science. It doesn't guarantee that the other option won't be found to be possible at some point.

Re:Couldn't this also mean (4, Funny)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974317)

Just because it happens frequently doesn't mean it is *not* supernatural in nature.

That's why I pray every day to our great Flying Spaghetti Monster so I can see his terrific, supernatural tentacles grabbing down everything where others just see "gravity".

Re:Couldn't this also mean (1)

theilliterate (1381151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974401)

Touched by his noodly appendage..

Anything is possible, really. Gravity was established in science for a few centuries before Einstein rewrote the book on it. It could easily be rewritten again.

Re:Couldn't this also mean (3, Insightful)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974561)

Of course it could. But (and now I'm restricted to the realm of science) if you want to claim something is supernatural, you'll have to have good evidence to prove it.

You can believe anything you want (and anyone will have a hard time proving you're wrong, even if you really are). It's just a matter of choice. But if you want your claims to be heard (by me at least, a very skeptic person) you have to follow some more criteria. But that's just me.

Re:Couldn't this also mean (1)

EunuchsAddMen (1351807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974323)

Eastern philosophy suggests a blend of the two.

I'm curious as to what Jung's reaction to this "news" would be.

This is interesting (and on topic, even): EVP [wikipedia.org]

Re:Couldn't this also mean (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974455)

Just because it happens frequently doesn't mean it is *not* supernatural in nature.

The supernatural does not exist [discovermagazine.com] .

Read it....

Re:Couldn't this also mean (2, Insightful)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974475)

It's possible. So are flying spaghetti monsters, Santa Claus, and God. I can haz evidence, plz?

Re:Couldn't this also mean (1)

CFTM (513264) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974623)

Occams Razor.

Which is more likely - the brain has a protection mechanism that is designed to protect itself from the very real toll that grief has on the body (my understanding being that some nasty chemicals can be produced and released during grief though I could be off base on this count) or we leave some sort of energy that causes our loved ones to see us?

I'm going to take the brain having a protection mechanism...seems like the most simple explanation for the event to me.

And current scientific research backs up the second notion - we do in fact rewrite history in our own memories. They did a study where they put an individual who was not at an event such as a wedding in a wedding picture and suddenly people had stories about that individual being at the party. It was on slashdot I believe.

what is the definition of supernatural anyway ? (0, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974687)

it is evident that today science tags stuff it cant yet explain with established mathematical and physics models with the label 'supernatural' and tries to dismiss. its too much an effort to establish a new science branch and its calculation/measurement medium anymore.

science grown too stale and complacent. lazy.

Re:Couldn't this also mean (2, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974809)

That in 80% of cases some remnant, some energy of that person was left behind? Just because it happens frequently doesn't mean it is *not* supernatural in nature.

Absolutely. Why, in 46% of documented cases, energy inductance drain has been detected in the vicinity of dead bodies, decaying exponentially with time and oscillating about a void karma mean. And in 67.2% of such cases, inductance eddies were suggested by gathered data as having occurred before the obituarial event. Couple this evidence with well known ESP studies and psionic-harmonics studies, and the case for ghosts, and particularly poltergeists becomes more than compelling, it's practically irrefutable.

You can link these findings with the proven influence of Saturn [obsessivemathsfreak.org] , on general supernatural phenomena, especially those involving the recently deceased. True, r is only 0.13 in the case of 80% energy remnants(measured on a Kasparov scale), but the results ARE statistically significant.

It doesn't guarantee that the other option won't be found to be possible at some point.

Or has been found already, and is just being ignored my small minded skeptics. The truth is out there. Keep the faith!

Re:Couldn't this also mean (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974903)

That was exactly what came to my mind as well. It seems like we're taking the 'hallucination' factor as a given. That isn't very scientific. Until further testing and study is done, we should be using a less specific label, e.g. 'experience' or something similar.

We humans and our hubris...

This makes sense to me (5, Insightful)

seanellis (302682) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974269)

You've been living with someone for years, you develop a model of their behavior in your brain. With them there, this helps to predict where they are likely to be, what they said in that indistinct murmur from the other room, how they are likely to react when you say that you're late for the third time this week.

So this model is going to be still running even after they have gone. You "know" that your spouse will be in the living room watching "Strictly Come Dancing" because it's 7pm. So your mental model will fill them in, and as you walk into the room it will take a little time for the model to adjust. Is this the "corner of the eye" effect at work?

OK, so I'm not a clinical psychologist, not even close. But it seems a very plausible model to me.

Re:This makes sense to me (2, Interesting)

gunnk (463227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974337)

I lost a much-loved dog (Indy -- "we named the dog Indiana") last fall.

I felt his presence for quite some time though I never saw him.

Then again, someone that barely knew him DID see him. She came around a corner and saw him sitting there for a couple of seconds. Real surprise for her!

I'm not making any claims here -- extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence -- but she certainly had no mental model to follow nor strong attachment that would lead you to expect her to hallucinate his presence.

Re:This makes sense to me (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974505)

Don't be silly, she couldn't possibly have hallucinated your dog. Instead, she wasn't wearing her tin-foil hat and you planted the idea in her mind through remote hypnotic suggestion!

But seriously, that's creepy.

Re:This makes sense to me (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974481)

I've said this for years. You leave a you-shaped hole in the people around you when you die; and they in the people around them. Added up, it's a kind of immortality. After all "I" am not a collection of cells, I think of myself more as a collection of habits, behaviors, ideas and beliefs.

Re:This makes sense to me (4, Interesting)

theilliterate (1381151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974495)

I remember when I was a kid, I shared a bedroom with my older brother.

I would hear him whispering in his sleep, it would go on for hours.

Then he went away on a school trip and I could still hear the whispering.

documentary (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974347)

I seem to remember seeing a really good (although creepy) documentary about this very thing. Ah, here it is. [imdb.com]

Phantom Limb Pain, Sensory Deprivation (5, Insightful)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974429)

Sounds to me like the social equivalent of phantom limb pain [wikipedia.org] : "My other half is gone, but I still feel his/her presence."

I'm also reminded of sensory deprivation [wikipedia.org] -- when deprived of normal sensory input, the mind generates hallucinatory sensations.

Re:Phantom Limb Pain, Sensory Deprivation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974749)

Depends on the person I guess. Under sensory deprivation I do not hallucinate. In fact it's the only time I get peace from all the random shit flowing through my body in the normal world (ain't autism great? pffft). My brain finally relaxes and there is just nothing. It's great.

Truly madly deeply (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974433)

Truly madly deeply [imdb.com]

AND it HAS to be hallucination (1, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974473)

and couldnt be anything else.

because, as mankind, we have discovered all secrets of existence up to this point.

Re:AND it HAS to be hallucination (4, Funny)

thebheffect (1409105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974563)

Dude it's called the Bible. And if isn't in there you shouldn't even be thinking about it, sinner.

Barely been investigated? Well gee.. (5, Interesting)

Xelios (822510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974679)

They've barely been investigated because one of the best avenues for investigating them, hallucinogenic drugs, has been actively suppressed. Take the tryptamines for example. Here we have a class of chemicals that are, for the most part, physically harmless, that can be administered in a controlled setting and are all but guaranteed to produce hallucinations. Hell one of them, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), is even produced naturally in the human brain. This is the most powerful hallucinogen known to exist, yet we know almost nothing about it or what it's doing there, because (ironically) it's a Schedule I drug. Technically, we're all guilty of possession of a controlled substance.

Whether these things should be legalized is another topic, but at least make it easier for researchers to do legitimate science with them. Just tell me where to sign up.

Obviously (1)

jvkjvk (102057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974881)

Obviously there aren't ghosts, so any evidence to their existence must be explained some other way. That's what the scientific method is all about!

not just death (4, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974915)

I observed this phenomenon with grief over a girlfriend. We broke up after four years together. Afterward, I kept seeing her out of the corner of my eye, and my heart would skip a beat. It was always someone else, though.

Another unusual visual phenomenon: when the grief was particularly overwhelming, I started seeing in black-and-white, or at least with muted perception of color.

Since then I have avoided this problem by always breaking up with a girl as soon as things start getting serious. Hey, it works.

Freaking me out, man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974989)

I don't wanna hallucinate just because somebody else died.
I know my imagination, he's a dick. This will be terrifying when it happens.

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