Feel vibrations in your pocket without your phone there? This hallucination has a name
Have you ever had the feeling that your phone is ringing, vibrating, or looking for your attention in some way, only to find that no one was looking for you in any way when you pull it out of your pocket?
Yes, right? Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy. This, according to various studies, happens to up to 90 percent of people.
It’s so common that there’s an official name — Phantom Vibrate Syndrome, or Phantom Ring Syndrome — for those who turn off their phone’s vibration. Even psychologists have done research on the matter.
This is a form of hallucination – a tactile hallucination in which the brain receives a signal of a sensation that does not actually exist.
It can happen anytime and anywhere – you may hear a ringing or vibration while in the shower, in front of the TV or computer, and especially when you are in a noisy place.
Even people who we assume aren’t glued to their phones 24/7 like most of us have such hallucinations.
Valerie Cussler, who works on a farm with 2,200 head of cattle in Tennessee, explains to NPR – National Public Radio in the US that for her the problem is even bigger. The mooing of the cows is low and slightly vibrating and quite similar to the sound her phone makes. And it’s quite, quite confusing – both in the barn and in her office.
This feeling is not new and has been registered since the 90s of the last century when there were no telephones. Back then, people used pagers and the hallucination was called Phantom Pager Syndrome.
The phenomenon was studied for the first time in 2007, it was given other names such as ringxiety – a combination of the words ring and anxiety (ringing and anxiety), pnonetom – telecom, from telephone and phantom, and the official name – Phantom Vibration Syndrome. it was even named by the Australian Dictionary as its word of the year 2012.
Although the matter has been studied, there is no exact explanation as to what causes the false sense of vibration or ringing. It is logical to think that this speaks to the excessive use of the phone and that people are constantly worried about missing a call or message.
It has been found that phantom vibrations are most commonly felt after a person has had a phone for between one month and one year.
Then the brain begins to perceive other tactile sensations as vibration – for example, the contraction of a muscle, the touch or pressure of a garment, an object, and even bass music.
Robert Rosenberger, who studies the impact of technology on human behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, also conducted a survey among his students. 90 percent of them said they had this feeling, the specialist explained to the medical site WebMD.
Although for most people the hallucination is not a particular problem, for some it can also be a type of pareidolia – the mental phenomenon in which we tend to see images in vague images – for example, a cloud-like a bird or a human face in a pile of stones. That is, it can be a psychological phenomenon and even a signal of a psychotic state.
The frequency of the syndrome can also depend on a person’s mental condition, fatigue, and all kinds of problems – for example, if you are arguing with someone and you expect them to call, it is much more likely that you will “hear” a non-existent call.
“The phone is like glasses – you get so used to wearing them that you forget you’re wearing them. The phone becomes a part of you and you get used to the calls and vibrations, so it’s so easy to confuse them with other, similar sensations,” explains Rosenberger.
According to him, this is not so disturbing and it is not about dependence on technology. Rather, the constant checking of our phones comes from our human nature to obsess over things.
In the same way, for example, we check if someone we are waiting for is coming, or we listen at the station to check if the train is arriving.
“It looks like both compulsive and obsessive behavior. People who constantly check their phones don’t look any different than those who constantly wash their hands,” says Dr. Larry Rawson, a psychologist who also studies the influence of technology on our brains.
“I’m not saying it’s an obsession, but it can easily become one,” he told NPR.
The specialist recommends that we separate ourselves from our phones at least for a short time – at least for 30 minutes or an hour. This helps keep the situation under control.