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Visions spark debate.

In "Visions for all" (SN: 4/7/12, p. 22), researchers found that functioning people who "hallucinated" God were high on the "absorption" scale and that 4 percent of people studied reported hallucinations.

This reminded me that 4 percent of the population is grade V hypnotizable. All of these superhypnotizable people rate very high on absorption. [As a psychiatrist,] I had patients like this who had been severely abused as children. These are the ones who developed multiple personalities, or dissociative identity disorder. These patients often had visions of helpful spirits. Since none of your sources seemed to recognize that dissociation in healthy grade V hypnotizable people can show this kind of picture, I thought I would bring it to your attention.

Ralph B. Allison, Paso Robles, Calif.

If I didn't know better, I would say this article, though interesting, seems to have as its goal to reduce God to a hallucination at best and psychosis at worst. There are crucial differences between hallucinations (at least in my experience) and God speaking: Hallucinations occur in times of mental stress, drugs or illness that affect the mind; hallucinations are bizarre, otherworldly auditory and visual sensations; hallucinations do not make moral judgments or render valid insights.

Kenneth V. Hoffman, South Kingstown, R.I.

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Title Annotation:FEEDBACK
Author:Allison, Ralph B.; Hoffman, Kenneth V.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:May 19, 2012
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