Sensed Presence without Sensory Qualities: A Phenomenological Study of Bereavement Hallucinations

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This paper addresses the nature of sensed-presence experiences that are commonplace among the bereaved and occur cross-culturally. Although these experiences are often labelled bereavement hallucinations, it is unclear what they consist of. Some seem to involve sensory experiences in one or more modalities, while others involve a non-specific feeling or sense of presence. I focus on a puzzle concerning the latter: it is unclear how an experience of someone’s presence could arise without a more specific sensory content. I suggest that at least some of these experiences consist in a dynamic and non-localized experience of significant and salient possibilities. This can amount to the sense of currently relating to a particular individual and, by implication, a sense of that person’s presence. Where an experience of this kind also includes sensory qualities, they are inessential to the sense of relatedness and perhaps symptomatic of it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages16
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Early online date24 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2020

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© The Author(s) 2020.

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