Sensory and Quasi-Sensory Experiences of the Deceased in Bereavement: An Interdisciplinary and Integrative Review
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSchizophrenia Bulletin. 2020, 46 (6), 1367–1381. 10.1093/schbul/sbaa113
Bereaved people often report having sensory and quasi-sensory experiences of the deceased (SED), and there is an ongoing debate over whether SED are associated with pathology, such as grief complications. Research into these experiences has been conducted in various disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, and anthropology, without much crossover. This review brings these areas of research together, drawing on the expertise of an interdisciplinary working group formed as part of the International Consortium for Hallucination Research (ICHR). It examines existing evidence on the phenomenology, associated factors, and impact of SED, including the role of culture, and discusses the main theories on SED and how these phenomena compare with unusual experiences in other contexts. The review concludes that the vast majority of these experiences are benign and that they should be considered in light of their biographical, relational, and sociocultural contexts.