:: urbansheep (urbansheep) wrote,
:: urbansheep

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[ Q ] Apophenia



There is currently a controversial debate concerning whether unusual experiences are symptoms of a mental disorder, if mental disorders are a consequence of such experiences, or if people with mental disorders are especially susceptible to or even looking for these experiences. --Dr. Martina Belz-Merk 

Apophenia is the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. The term was coined by K. Conrad in 1958 (Brugger).

Peter Brugger of the Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Zurich, gives examples of apophenia from August Strindberg's Occult Diary, the playwright's own account of his psychotic break:

He saw "two insignia of witches, the goat's horn and the besom" in a rock and wondered "what demon it was who had put [them] ... just there and in my way on this particular morning." A building then looked like an oven and he thought of Dante's Inferno.

He sees sticks on the ground and sees them as forming Greek letters which he interprets to be the abbreviation of a man's name and feels he now knows that this man is the one who is persecuting him. He sees sticks on the bottom of a chest and is sure they form a pentagram.

He sees tiny hands in prayer when he looks at a walnut under a microscope and it "filled me with horror."

His crumpled pillow looks "like a marble head in the style of Michaelangelo." Strindberg comments that "these occurrences could not be regarded as accidental, for on some days the pillow presented the appearance of horrible monsters, of gothic gargoyles, of dragons, and one night ... I was greeted by the Evil One himself...."

According to Brugger, "The propensity to see connections between seemingly unrelated objects or ideas most closely links psychosis to creativity ... apophenia and creativity may even be seen as two sides of the same coin." Some of the most creative people in the world, then, must be psychoanalysts and therapists who use projective tests like the Rorschach test or who see patterns of child abuse behind every emotional problem. Brugger notes that one analyst thought he had support for the penis envy theory because more females than males failed to return their pencils after a test. Another spent nine pages in a prestigious journal describing how sidewalk cracks are vaginas and feet are penises, and the old saw about not stepping on cracks is actually a warning to stay away from the female sex organ.

Brugger's research indicates that high levels of dopamine affect the propensity to find meaning, patterns, and significance where there is none, and that this propensity is related to a tendency to believe in the paranormal.*

In statistics, apophenia is called a Type I error, seeing patterns where none, in fact, exist. It is highly probable that the apparent significance of many unusual experiences and phenomena are due to apophenia, e.g., ghosts and hauntings, EVP, numerology, the Bible code, anomalous cognition, ganzfeld "hits", most forms of divination, the prophecies of Nostradamus, remote viewing, and a host of other paranormal and supernatural experiences and phenomena.

See related entries on pareidolia, sympathetic magic and synchronicity.


Внезапные откровения, когда всё, окружающее человека, вдруг складывается в единую систему, — явление распространённое, но яндекс отчего-то не находит термина „апофения“ иначе, как в контексте психиатрической работы с шизофреническими расстройствами. Хотя, по идее, где-то между нормальным восприятием и бредом должна лежать практика использования и распознавания тончайших последовательностей, фильтрации сигнала.

А то, с одной стороны, есть увеличивающееся количество людей, у которых диагностируют шизофрению, с другой стороны, есть, не отвечающая реальности объективной, перекрученная бредовая реальность, для которой свойственны повышенная чувствительность и способность мозга отыскивать последовательности везде („Игры разума“ идеально это расхождение субъективного и домысленного показывают). С третьей стороны существует интуиция и искусство применять эту чувствительность в условиях неопределённости: навыки, которые до сих пор являются лишь паранормальными способностями.


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