Sensory and quasi-sensory experiences of the deceased in bereavement: An interdisciplinary and integrative review

Karina Kamp, Edith Maria Steffen, Ben Alderson-Day, Paul Allen, Anne Austad, Jac Hayes, Frank Laroi, Matthew Ratcliffe, Pablo Sabucedo

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Bereaved people often report having sensory and quasi-sensory experiences of the deceased (SED), and there is 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 socio-cultural contexts.

© 2020, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2020

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