Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 1 [a-laws]
Baldwin, James Mark
are common. Both frequently move and take 
part in dramatic action. Mysterious signs, 
flashes of fire, areas of colour may appear, as 
in the visions of religious ecstatics. The 
kaleidoscopic changing of forms that appears 
in opium and other drug intoxication is also 
characteristic. In the complex hallucinations 
(those of persecution particularly), what first 
appears as a voice may later assume a definite 
shape. The variety of such delusions is end¬ 
less, being determined largely by the dominant 
emotional tone and the personal temperament. 
The mysterious voices of one age become com¬ 
municated through an invisible telephone in 
another; or the magic action by witchcraft 
becomes a form of mesmerism or of electricity. 
In all such cases the starting-point and specific 
nature of the hallucination is of greatest 
significance ; its development and elabora¬ 
tions are too variable for psychological inter¬ 
pretation. Voices are perhaps the most pre¬ 
valent form of hallucination, and frequently 
dominate the patient’s entire conduct. As 
already indicated, hallucinations of touch are 
apt to he of the form of paraesthesia. Ab¬ 
normal sensations are misinterpreted ; creep¬ 
ing sensations become the attacks of ants or 
vermin ; anaesthesias lead to conceptions of 
the limbs as made of wood or glass, the absence 
of a stomach, and the like. Changes of per¬ 
sonality may be similarly conditioned. Visceral 
disturbances may lead to the presence of olfac¬ 
tory hallucinations—bad odours. A perverted 
taste may lead the patient to detect imaginary 
poison in his food. This group of quasi¬ 
hallucinations seldom appear alone, but co¬ 
operate with other hallucinations in the 
formation of delusions under the dominance 
of the prevailing mental tone. 
Theories. While the special senses are con¬ 
cerned in the origin of hallucinations, they 
afford no explanation of the hallucination 
itself. For hallucinations are not mainly of 
crude sensations like flashes of light and 
sudden noises, but of definite objects and 
scenes ; moreover, persons who have become 
blind or deaf may be subject to hallucinations 
in the domain of the lost sense. While 
admitting that sensory changes may induce 
hallucinations (as in intoxication, &c.), these 
are secondary to the main phenomenon, which 
is of central origin. Theories (Ferrier, Tam- 
burini) which ascribe the initial impulse of 
the hallucination to the highest cortical 
(ideational) centres may be termed centri¬ 
fugal. Such views hold that when an irrita¬ 
tion begins in the appropriate highest centre 
(or, in another view, is brought to that 
highest centre from an irritation in the sub¬ 
cortical centre), and proceeds outward (under 
certain favourable but not clearly determined 
conditions), it causes an hallucination, just as 
the reverse process normally causes a true 
perception. This view, according to which 
the hallucination is projected outward and 
materialized by a process the reverse of normal 
sense-perception, seems to be favoured by the 
fact that certain persons can produce hallu¬ 
cinations by an action of the will, that 
hallucinations do not occur in states of severe 
mental defects (idiocy, dementia), that the 
same factors are important in actual life and 
in hallucinations, and further, in recent dis¬ 
cussions, by the fact that such hallucinations 
are doubled when a prism is held in front of 
the eye, are coloured when seen through 
coloured glass, and so on. That this type 
of theory is inadequate can readily be shown. 
To begin with, the fundamental process in¬ 
volved cannot be regarded as plausible or 
physiological ; the sporadic cases of voluntary 
hallucinations are far too few to be significant ; 
the doubling and colouring of the hallucination 
is perhaps an inference (more or less uncon¬ 
scious) from what happens to normal objects. 
An adequate theory can be formed only 
on the basis of a more exact knowledge 
of the relations of cerebral centres than we 
now possess. The most helpful theories (those 
of Meynert, James, Kandinsky, Parish, and 
others; see Parish, as below, 132-52)proceed 
on the basis of an identity of the sensory and 
reproductive centres, and exhibit the hallucina¬ 
tion as a disturbance of the usual relation 
between the particular perceptive centre and 
its associative bonds. It is a state of dis¬ 
sociation, which is the common point of all 
hallucinatory states (Parish) ; it is the sup¬ 
pression of the activity of the highest cortical 
centres which makes possible the undue ex¬ 
citement of the subcortical centres, which in 
turn occasion hallucinations (Meynert) ; it 
is the over-accumulation of nerve-currents 
(owing to the absence of free communication 
with neighbouring cells) which acts like an 
explosion and produces an hallucination 
(James). While these theories are helpful, 
no one of them can be said to present an 
adequate account of what goes on in the 
hallucinated mind ; such defect being the 
almost necessary result of our defective 
knowledge in regard to the physiological 
counterparts of normal perception, association, 
and reproduction. 


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