The phenomena of collective apparitions

Collective apparitions. Hallucinations of persons living or dead involving more than one percipient, collective apparitions account for approximately 8 percent of all reported hallucinations, according to a survey conducted by the Society of Psychical Research (SPR) shortly after its founding in 1882. Accounts of such apparitions often have a greater impact than do similar stories of individual hallucinations. The report of a lone percipient can be discounted rather easily by the skeptic (as well as by the doubtful percipient), while the presence of a second (or third or fourth) observer tends to confirm the "reality" of the event on some level. At the same time the fact of collective apparitions complicates consideration of the most widely accepted theory proposed to explain the phenomenon generally—that is, that ap­paritions are telepathically produced. Assuming that the apparitional agent, a friend of the percipient, say, telepathi­cally transmits an image of himself in order to alert the percipient to his (the apparitional figure's) impending death, how then does a bystander, ignorant of the apparitional person's existence, also experience the apparition? And to what purpose? Of more logical appeal is the SPR-documented case of a pair of brothers serving on the same ship who awoke one night in adjacent cots to see their father standing between them. Each brother observed the father, who they later learned had died at about that hour, from a different perspective. Their three-dimensional view of him strongly suggests that the apparition literally occupied the physical space in which he appeared. Both the hypothetical instance and the recorded case repeat circumstances routinely reported in collective hallucinations. Theorists of telepathy as the source of all hallucinations suggest that in such cases the image is transmitted first to the original percipient and then relayed to the second percipient and all others. Proponents of hallucina­tions as energy "occupations" of space point to collective apparitions as proof of their supposition.