October 3rd, 2010

it was a fauxcellarm

If you think you hear your phone ringing but find you’re mistaken, then it was just a fauxcellarm. Equally, if you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket, only to discover your phone is lying silently on the table, it could also be described as fauxcellarm or ringxiety. I applaud whomever came up with these terms to describe phantom ringing (wiki).

The phenomenon can be a simple mishearing or it could have a psychosomatic origin:

An intense “need” for contact, such as experienced during involuntary extended isolation may produce a similar effect although not explicitly named as such.

An example of this is shown in the 1971 movie “The Omega Man” at ~8m:20s where Robert Neville (played by Charlton Heston) — obviously entirely alone in a large city for several years — hears all the phones around him ring at once, but then reminds himself that “… There is no phone ringing, damnit!” at ~8m:55s as he cowers exhibiting something between shame and anger.

The New York Times has an article about the phenomenon from 2006.


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