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Coriat, I.H. (1934). A Psychoanalytic Theory of Hallucinations. Psychoanal. Rev., 21(4):372-380.

(1934). Psychoanalytic Review, 21(4):372-380

A Psychoanalytic Theory of Hallucinations

Isador H. Coriat, M.D.

The subject of hallucinations has gone through the successive chronological stages in the development of science as outlined by Karl Pearson in his classical work. At first, there were the practical observations, secondly, their classification, and, thirdly, a dynamic reconstruction which would explain hallucinatory phenomena. The first two stages belong to descriptive psychiatry, the third one of a dynamic reconstruction would have been impossible without psychoanalysis. It is this third dynamic approach which forms the subject of this paper.

Hallucinations and delusion-formation have always maintained their central position as symptoms in the psychoses and though many psychotic disorders may be free from them, yet they occur so frequently as to have become almost pathognomonic. With the exception of delirious states, most hallucinations are of the auditory content and an attempt will be made to formulate a provisional analytical theory of these auditory hallucinations. The various theories of hallucinations in psychiatry, however, have been more on the descriptive than on the interpretative level. These theories may be divided into two classes, those which regard hallucinations as entirely central or purely psychically conditioned; and secondly, those which maintain that in addition to these central factors, peripheral or psycho-sensorial mechanisms may also enter into their development. In hallucinations things are perceived or heard or felt without corresponding external stimuli and the projection to the outer world is usually perfect. The relation of hallucinations to the other mental content of the psychosis is remarkable, expressing either the unconscious or conscious thoughts of the individual.


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