Grief Hallucinations: True or Pseudo? Serious or Not?
An Inquiry into Psychopathological and Clinical Features of a Common Phenomenon
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
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An inquiry into the psychopathology and the clinical significance of grief hallucinations is presented and two cases with severe grief hallucinations are described. Unlike many cases in the literature, the two female patients were young (aged 43 and 45, respectively) and both suffered from the loss of a daughter. The heterogeneous concept of grief hallucinations is described and discussed, focusing particularly on the difficulties of reaching a differentiation between hallucination and pseudohallucination. Basic theses of the article are: (1) Contrary to a widely held view, grief hallucinations can display all the characteristics of ‘true’ hallucinations. (2) The concept of grief hallucinations probably comprises a heterogeneous group of disturbances of perception and of thought processes. They can be experienced as comforting but can also cause considerable distress. (3) There are essentially two definitions of pseudohallucinations and they contradict each other. The extremely vague concept of pseudohallucinations appears to be of questionable value and should be abandoned.
© 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel
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