Could anxiety be causing 90 percent of people to suffer from phantom vibration syndrome?

By midian182 ยท 14 replies
Jan 11, 2016
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  1. Have you ever been walking around with a muted cell phone in your pocket and felt it vibrate, only to take it out and find you imagined the alert? If so, then you’re one of the 9 out of 10 people who have suffered from ‘phantom vibration syndrome,’ which researchers say is caused by “learned bodily habits.”

    Dr. Robert Rosenberger, a philosopher and assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, published his research in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal that suggested when a person leaves a cell phone in their pocket it becomes “part of their body” and they forget it is there. Much like when a person forgets that they are wearing glasses.

    As we are so used to these devices being in our pockets, we start interpreting the smallest movements as phone calls. Rosenberger describes this feeling as a “hallucination,” and says it is partly due to the anxiety so many people feel in today’s always-connected society, as they are constantly on edge in case they miss a phone call or email alert.

    “People then perceive other sensations such as movement of clothing of muscle spasms as vibrations from your mobile, but it’s just a hallucination,” said the professor.

    While some of this research may seem a bit obvious, one interesting theory Rosenberger put forward is that technology may actually be altering our brain chemistry and changing cognitive pathways. "People are guessing it has something to do with nervous energy," said Rosenberger. "The cognitive scientists are talking about brain chemistry, cognitive pathways changing. But it’s not like they have brain scans to go on."

    While the so-called ‘phantom vibration syndrome’ isn’t exactly a problem, with only 2 percent of people considering it an issue, the fact that so many people experience it shows how entrenched today’s technology is in our lives.

    Image credit: MARCHPN / shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,184   +1,863

    I certainly hope the government didn't give any kind of grant for this study .....
  3. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,128   +129

    This is why I drink.... My phone never vibrates because I don't have any friends. Except for Jack.
    Hexic likes this.
  4. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 923   +283

    Only Jack? Why not his friends Jim, Johnny and Jose?
    Hexic likes this.
  5. robb213

    robb213 TS Addict Posts: 329   +98

    Never even knew such a thing existed. Sounds more like some people have nothing to do and make up the feeling in order to do something, or for the hope of.

    I wouldn't be shocked if they did. After all, the state of CT gave my university (Central Connecticut State University) a grant to help with the research of if squirrels remember where they hide their nuts after Winter. Of course it was a waste of money...the results showed squirrels don't remember either.
  6. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,952   +203

    I've certainly had this occur to me but it's good to know that not only did I imagine it but according to rob here I even made up my imagined feeling.
  7. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,645   +3,268

    I guess feeling a phone giving off phantom vibrations in your pocket is better than seeing pink elephants.
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,184   +1,863

    ROFL ... yeah, after I turned 60 I developed the same darn problem .... I'm blaming Viagra!
  9. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,254   +614

    Most of the "carry phone 24/7" types are nothing but a bunch of low self esteem narcissistic people.
    Have no life, think "likes" are what life is about. Want to see them really crash? Kill twitter, Facebook, instagram for 24 hours. Most would jump off a bridge or high building.
  10. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,128   +129

    Those bastards always start fighting when they get together. The king isn't so bad though.
  11. robb213

    robb213 TS Addict Posts: 329   +98

    I didn't mean you consciously made up the feeling, but subconsciously did which means it's out of our control. So in turn you look at your phone without having a second thought.

    What I meant is that when we interact with our phones, most people get an endorphin rush. Your brain/body could be desiring an endorphin rush, and in order to maybe trigger it makes you want to look at your phone for the hopes of a message or some alert. Even in the article they point to anxiety, so it's not just some average every day motion that expected, but probably triggered because the brain wants something.
  12. Hexic

    Hexic TS Maniac Posts: 322   +155

    You two robbed every possible comment I would have came up with.. My inner alcoholic is impressed, well played.
    Wendig0 likes this.
  13. fredderf81

    fredderf81 TS Enthusiast Posts: 51   +40

    Huh?? ...wait...what now?? are you serious?
  14. Yynxs

    Yynxs TS Addict Posts: 202   +70

    In academia narrow vision is also part of the cell phone phenomenon. There are people who literally move themselves and their family to low RF areas because they feel/believe RF affects them adversely. I'm not that bad, but I can't leave my house wireless phone on speaker sitting on my chest while chatting because I start to feel uncomfortable around my heart in a minute or so. Removing the phone to couch next to me stops the problem, no matter how long the call.

    Cell phones are not bricks. They are continually passing signals to towers and responding to any bluetooth passing. They're not allowed in medical diagnosis/treatment areas because of possible signal interference. Fear of this possible interference affect their use on air travel instruments.

    Humans, also, are not bricks. The body is chemical/electrical in function. It doesn't take much extrapolation to posit that some of the cell phone activities may affect some of the chemical/electrical activities in the body. Whether this manifests itself as "phantom" vibration would seem an obvious question and easily testable.

    Anecdotally, I've carried my wallet in the same pocket for upwards of 16 hours a day for some 50 years. It is a part of "me" when I'm not out of my clothing. It's never vibrated. (It did weep when my daughter was a teenager though.)
  15. DAOWAce

    DAOWAce TS Booster Posts: 268   +39

    I had no idea what this meant until I came to the article page and saw a picture of a smartphone in a pocket.

    Glad to be one of the people in this world that doesn't use a mobile phone.

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