What is a veridical hallucination?

The term veridical hallucination is indebted to the Latin adjective veridicus, which means truthful or speaking the truth. It has two broad sets of connotations. In the first place, it is used as a synonym for the terms *true hallucination, * genuine hallucination, and * hallucination proper. In this reading, all four terms are used in opposition to expressions such as * false hallucination, quasi-hallucination, and * pseudohallucination. In this mundane sense, the term veridical hallucination expresses the recognition that the hallucination in question is genuine, and not a * dream or a product of fantasy. Second, the term veridical hallucination is used in parapsychology to denote a class of * telepathic hallucinations. The German hallucinations researcher Edmund Parish (1861-1916) divided the class of telepathic hallucinations into veridical hallucinations and *coincidental hallucinations.

While coincidental hallucinations are assumed to merely coincide with actual events in the external world, veridical hallucinations are thought to also reflect the content of such events. Or, in the words of the British physicist and founder of the Society for Psychical Research, William Fletcher Barrett (1844-1925), “Some hallucinations correspond with an appropriate real event occurring to another person; some accident, illness, emotion or death happening at that time to a distant friend. Such hallucinations are termed veridical or truth-telling; their study is a branch of Psychology, and is an important part of psychical research. There may be no more substantiality about such visual hallucinations than there is about the reflection of oneself in a looking-glass. The image in the mirror is veridical and caused by a neighbouring objective reality; in like manner, is a mental image coinciding with some distant unseen real occurrence; but the mental image is not derived through the organ of sense, as is the reflection seen in the mirror.”

As used in the parapsychological tradition, the term veridical hallucination commonly appears in opposition to *falsidical hallucination. The guiding principle behind this latter classification (veridical-falsidical) is the alleged relationship with actual events in the external world. In spite of the use of the adjective veridical, in the view of some authors the term veridical hallucination still has a certain connotation of subjectivity or morbidity connected with the word hallucination. In an attempt to do away with that connotation, it has been proposed to replace the term veridical hallucination by the term * monition.

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