The term personification comes from the Latin words persona (mask, person) and facere (to make). It is used to denote a * compound hallucination depicting a human being. Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) credits the German chemist Ludwig Staudenmaier (1865-1933) with introducing the term in 1912. Staudenmaier, who after an experimental phase in occultism had been diagnosed with * schizophrenia, uses the term to denote an 'outwardly projected' hallucinatory human figure. In conformity with the ideas of the Italian psychiatrist Eugenio Tanzi (1856-1934) on the * reversed conductibility of the primary sensory pathways, Staudenmaier suggests that centrally mediated perceptual information may be conducted efferently along the primary sensory pathways, thus allowing the sense organs to engage in the 'outward projection' or 'physical projection' of that information into extracorporeal space. Having experienced hallucinations in the form of personification himself during episodes of automatic writing, he wrote that "single hallucinations gradually emerged more definitely and returned more often. At last they formed into personifications; for instance, the more important visual images regularly combined with the corresponding auditory images, so that the emerging figures began to speak to me, gave me advice and criticised my actions." Staudenmaier interpreted these hallucinations in Freudian fashion as "emancipated parts of the unconscious". Proceeding on the dictum that whatever is able to receive must also be able to send, he wished to provide humanity with the tools necessary to produce 'physicalizations'. It has been claimed by the American-Canadian neuropsychologist Michael A. Persinger (b. 1945) that personifications can be evoked experimentally with the aid of a *Koren helmet. A different use of the term personification can be found in the work of the British neurologist Macdonald Critchley (1900-1997). In 1955, Critchley introduced the term to denote the investment of a paretic limb with a personality or an identity of its own, such as may occur in hemiplegia due to lesions to the parietal lobe. As Critchley wrote, "The patient invests the limb with a sort of personality of its own and speaks of it as 'she' or 'he'. More often a nickname is used: 'old useless', 'the delinquent', 'George', 'the old immovable', 'Gammy', 'floppy Joe', the nuisance', 'Fanny', 'Mary Ann', 'Silly Jimmy', 'Toby', 'the pet', 'Dolly Gray', 'the bugger'. Personification and misoplegia are at times coexistent. A patient with a right cerebral softening spoke of his paralyzed arm as 'the old swine' or 'the stinker,' and went on to say, 'Don't talk about its twitching, or it might hear you, and start again!'" Neither variant of personification should be confused with * ordinal-linguistic personification, which is a type of*synaesthesia.
   Critchley, M. (1955). Personification of paralyzed limbs in hemiplegics. British Medical Journal, 2, 284.
   Jaspers, K. (1997). Generalpsychopathology. Volume 1. Translated by Hoenig, J., Hamilton, M.W. Baltimore, MA: Johns Hopkins University Press.
   Staudenmaier, L. (1912). Die Magie als experimentelle Naturwissenschaft. Leipzig: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.


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