Telepathic Hallucinations

12th April 2024. Reading Time: 6 minutes General, Paranormal Theories. 1372 page views. 0 comments.

Is the act of seeing a ghost one of telepathy rather than physical manifestation?

And thus, absurdly enough, we sometimes hear men ridicule the phenomena which actually do happen, simply because those phenomena do not suit their preconceived notions of what ghostly phenomena ought to be;


'Human personality and its survival of bodily death'

Before we begin, don't let the term hallucination sway you.  I am not at all implying that ghostly sightings are simply hallucinations of a person's imagination (although I am sure this could explain some occurrences).  The theory is that a person seeing a ghost is not necessarily witnessing some sort of physical apparition, but rather, they are seeing the spectre in their mind induced by a form of telepathy.  It is also important to note that this is not a blanket explanation or theory that explains all sightings and experiences with ghosts.  It is one of many theories worth considering for some cases of paranormal phenomena.  

Telepathic hallucinations

The term telepathic hallucinations was discussed in the book Phantasms of the Living (1886) by Edmund Gurney, Frederic W. H. Myers & Frank Podmore.

For our review of telepathic hallucinations, so far, has shown that they may take very various forms, and may be projected at various intervals of time (within a range of a few hours) from the crisis or event to which we trace them ; so that, supposing several persons to have been the joint recipients of a telepathic impression, it seems most improbable that they should independently invest it at the same moment with the same sensory form. Nor, again, should we expect to find, among those jointly affected, any person who wag a stranger to the distant agent ; nevertheless, cases occur where such a person has shared in the collective percipience. And yet again, on this theory of independent affection of several persons, there seems no special reason why they should be in one another's company at the time, since the agent may presumably exercise his influence equally in any direction ; nevertheless, cases where the percipients have been apart are, in fact, extremely rare .

I have written before many times about the notion that the ghosts could simply be us.  By thinking about someone are we projecting them to be?  A telepathic hallucination suggests that the ghost someone is seeing is actually on the receiving end of a telepathic act.  I suppose here you could theorise in a few different ways.  Is another person in the room causing this or do spirits induce an experience telepathically?  So for example, when a spirit is showing themselves, rather than physically manifestation are they telepathically projecting their image to an unsuspecting receiver?

It could even offer a theory as to why we see spirits in period clothing.

Ghosts wearing clothes

One of the many questions paranormal enthusiasts ponder is the notion of spirits wearing clothing and even how they appear.  Often when a person sees the ghost of a family member who has passed of old age or illness, they see them looking healthy and younger and almost at their prime.  Mediums I have spoken to have explained they believe it is because spirits want to show us their best form and how they see themselves.  When you look at it this way, it leans heavily into the telepathic hallucination concept.

In his book Telepathic Hallucinations, Frank Podmore writes:

The ghosts, it will have been observed, always appeared clothed. Have clothes also ethereal counterparts ? Such was and is the belief of many early races of mankind, who leave clothes, food, and weapons in the graves of the dead, or burn them on the funeral pile, that their friends may have all they require in the spirit world. But are we prepared to accept this view? And again, these ghosts commonly appear, not in the clothes which they were wearing at death for most deaths take place in bed but in some others, as will be seen from an examination of the stories already cited. Are we to suppose the ethereal body going to its wardrobe to clothe its nakedness withal ?  or that, as in the case of Ensign Cavalcante's appearance to Frau Rieken, the ghost will actually take off the ethereal clothes it wore at death and replace them with others? It is scarcely necessary to pursue the subject. The difficulties and contradictions involved in adapting it to explain the clothes must prove fatal to the ghost-theory.

Whatever else they may be, it seems clear that these apparitions are not ghosts in the old-fashioned sense. And yet, unless we are to distrust human testimony altogether, they are something. It is only within the last three or four generations that science has been in a position to explain what in fact these apparitions are. It is now generally agreed that they are of the stuff which dreams are made of; they are, in fact, waking dreams, or in technical phraseology, sensory hallucinations.

This line of thinking helps to explain why you could have a room of people, and only one person will see a ghostly figure.  It can also explain why a person who is filming or taking a photo does not capture it as it is not physical but rather in their mind.  It means the rules of 'optics' are not in play.

if I see a subjective hallucinatory figure “out in the room,” its aspect is not defermined by optical laws (it may even seem to stand behind the observer, or otherwise owéside his visual field), but it will more or less conform—by my mere self-suggestion, if by nothing else—to optical laws ; and, moreover, it will still seem to be seen from a fixed point in space, namely, from the stationary observer’s eyes or brain. 

Human Personality and its survival of bodily death (1920) by Frederick W.H Myers Vol 2

There is quite a lot to discuss and think about in this area and it is a lot to digest and think about, so now it is over to you and I will be writing more about this in the coming weeks.

In the mean time, below is a list of suggested reading which covers this topic heavily.

Suggested Reading:

Phantasms of the Living 1886) by Edmund Gurney, Frederic W. H. Myers & Frank Podmore

Human Personality and its survival of bodily death (1903) by Frederick W.H Myers Vol 1

Human Personality and its survival of bodily death (1920) by Frederick W.H Myers Vol 2

Telepathic Hallunications: The new view of ghosts (1909) by Frank Podmore

You can read them for free online thanks to public domain and also download a pdf as well.  These are very significant texts and not only discuss different theories as to life after death or what we would describe as ghosts, but they also provide case studies and examples.  What I like most about this is that it challenges the typical explanations of what a ghost is.  These books were written and published in the early 1900's which shows us that in some ways, we haven't necessarily evolved in our thinking of what ghosts or spirits may be.  In fact, I think in some ways we may have gone a little backwards and focused less on the theories and the how and why so many people have ghostly encounters as opposed to what has become trying to capture proof.  

Cover Photo by Karolina Grabowska:

If you enjoy LLIFS, consider buying me a book (otherwise known as buy me a coffee but I don't drink coffee and I LOVE books). Your donation helps to fund the LLIFS website so everyone can continue to access great paranormal content and resources for FREE!

Follow LLIFS on Facebook

Don't forget to follow the Facebook page for regular updates 

Mailing List

Join the mailing list to receive weekly updates of NEW articles.  Never miss an article again!

Haunted Magazine

Buy the latest and past issues Haunted Magazine

Books by LLIFS

Check out the books written by LLIFS