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Observations placeholder

Dr. Pelletier - sensations of integrity in amputees



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 470


A description of the experience

Professor Ernest Bozzano Les phénomènes de bilocation Traduit de l’italien par Gabriel Gobron and translated further into English by Serge Patlavskiy

First category -"Senses of integrity" in amputees and impressions of "doubling" in hemipleges.

Dr. Pelletier, summarizing the results of Bernstein, Pitres, Weir Mitchell's investigations into "sensations of integrity in amputees", said this (Doct. Pelletier, in Bulletin de l'Institut Général Psychologique (1905, page 280):

The illusions of amputees are a normal fact; indeed, for Riset, who investigated soldiers of the First Empire, of four hundred and fifty-five [455] amputees, only fourteen [14] did not report the phenomenon of the phantom limb; for Pitres the illusion was reported to be missing only one time [1] in thirty cases [30].... Most often the illusion occurs immediately after the operation. Sometimes, however, it only takes place later, but always in a fairly short time; in one case reported by Pitres, it appeared on the third day, in another after six weeks.

But what exactly is this phantom limb? Sometimes the limb is totally felt; the patient perceives it with the shape, volume, temperature, position, mobility, that he really had; but more often the perception is much less clear.

In some cases the finger tips are felt alone, the rest of the limb is blurry. Sometimes also the perception is clear, only the part is felt as smaller or larger than it was.

A patient of Pitres, amputated with one hand, claimed that his phantom hand was small, like the hand of a twelve-year-old child: another felt a curled hand, more round than the other. In another case of the same author, the phantom hand was felt to be larger than the other. But what all patients are unanimous on is the reality of the sensations they experience:

"I will only tell the truth - says a patient of Weir Mitchell - by saying that I am more confident about the limb I have lost than about the one I have kept".

"I have to reason - said another - to realize the unreality of the sensation I am experiencing."


Some patients can animate their phantom limbs in their imagination, others on the contrary cannot... The sensation of the phantom limb sometimes lasts for many years, but in several cases, its disappearance has been observed. This disappearance occurs, in some people, all of a sudden; in others it happens gradually; little by little the illusory limb decreases in volume as it approaches the stump, and in the end it seems to the patient that his limb has disappeared into the scar "like a shadow that enters a body", to use Weir Mitchell's expression.


The source of the experience

Other ill or disabled person

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps