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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 12, 1999


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Editorial Assistant

JAMA. 1999;281(18):1674J. doi:10.1001/jama.281.18.1674J-JJY90012-2-1

The origins of hallucinations of sight, resulting in visions, and those of hearing called voices, are very interesting studies. MORTON PRINCE of Boston, in an experimental study of visions, published in the winter number of Brain, has deduced some interesting points about visions. His experiments were made upon a hysteric neurasthenic, in whom he was able to establish three personalities, or three conscious states, by hypnosis. PRINCE divided the visions produced into those of conscious or unconscious visual experiences, those newly created from past experiences not visual but from some other sense experience, and those without known past experiences. . . . All possible combinations may exist, so that it may be quite impossible to define any particular thing to which one can directly trace the vision. This fact is very suggestive in the possible explanation of many dreams, which at times seem never before to have figured in one's experience. The condition may be made to cover the hallucinations of sight and hearing of the clairvoyant and trance medium. Such studies give us many medicolegal points in the disordered consciousness of epileptics, where passing thoughts in the normal state become the criminal acts in the so-called psychic attacks. From PRINCE'S study we infer that ideas long sought for and dwelt upon may ultimately appear to be the prophet or genius of arts as inspirations. Undoubtedly most people would read the experiences of their subconscious states without having the slightest inkling that it had to do with themselves, as many impressions of the different sense organs never arise into normal consciousness and are not known or remembered. This study of PRINCE'S is very instructive, and quite in accord with our present day psychologic studies on consciousness and its disorders.