Are Ghosts Phantom Images of Missed Ones in Our Minds?
Ratings of grief reactions, post-bereavement hallucinations and illusions and quality of life were made during the first year after the death of a spouse among 14 men and 36 women in their early seventies. In both sexes, the reactions were generally moderate or mild and characterized by loneliness, low mood, fatigue, anxiety and cognitive dysfunctioning. Feeling lonely was the most persistent problem during the year. Post-bereavement hallucinations or illusions were very frequent and considered helpful. Half of the subjects felt the presence of the deceased (illusions); about one third reported seeing, hearing and talking to the deceased (hallucinations). Former marital harmony was found to make a person more prone to loneliness, crying and hallucinations or illusions. The quality of life was significantly lower among the bereaved than among married people and those who never married, but equalled that found among divorcees.
One third reported hallucinations of an interactive human form. Sounds like mythic imagination gone wrong. One thing's for sure: in a relative universe, we "read" reality by projecting ourselves into it, so it's not surprising these artifacts persist.