Do you hear that? It could be a problem

A large section of the population suffers from the Phantom Vibration Syndrome, especially those who have a technologically-equipped mind.

Do you sometimes feel that your phone is vibrating in your pocket, or think it is ringing in the other room, when it is actually not? Chances are that you may be suffering from what is called Phantom Vibration Syndrome. It is a syndrome where you feel that your phone is ringing or vibrating when it is not. 

“Phantom Vibration Syndrome is what we call a ring anxiety, it is a very new concept. The symptoms of this syndrome are also seen as kind of tactile hallucination by some psychiatrists. More than a nervous condition it is related to be a manifestation of anxiety. This syndrome is commonly seen in people who have the habit of checking their phones frequently. The mind gets conditioned to the vibrating tone, resulting in the mist interpretation,” says Deepika Nambiar, Consultant Clinical Psychologist Abhaya Hospital.

Can this syndrome be considered a serious mental condition? “Though most of us on a daily basis, experience some amount of this phenomenon, classifying it as a severe mental condition depends solely on the level of distress and dysfunction it is causing to an individual,” she adds.      

Priyanka M B, director and clinical psychologist, Inspiron Psychological Well-Being Centre, says, “A large section of the population goes through this phenomenon, especially those who have a technologically- equipped mind. By engaging ourselves with electronic gadgets, we are changing the brain wave pattern and making it habituated to a certain behaviour -- say the vibration of the phone or ringing of the doorbell every day at seven in the morning by the milkman or the newspaper boy.”

She chalks out four signs of the syndrome. “First, the brain gets re-structured or re-wired unconsciously to certain vibrations. Second, we have something called as a habit that the brain gets accustomed to like our sleep pattern or ringing of the doorbell. Third, we cope with our life through certain patterns; for the i-generation it is all about technology and virtual communication. This has created problems in dealing with people who are in front of them. Instead, they deal with their problems looking at their phones and scrolling through various apps. This syndrome is common among those who are emotionally attached to people and use messages frequently as a mode of communication,” Priyanka points out. 

There is a lot of self-evaluation that happens. In this, our self-perception and self-esteem are affected.

“The more one sees their feedbacks on a judgmental basis, the more it can lead to psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and personality disorder like anti-social personality and borderline personality disorder,” adds Priyanka.

She says that this syndrome is affecting human interactions but it can be corrected because it is a habit. 

Shine Mathew, an IT professional, says that she usually has this problem when she is wearing jeans. “It could be the cloth rubbing against my skin while I am walking, but I feel that my phone is vibrating and I am missing calls. This also happens when I don’t take my phone with me while bathing,” says Shine.

She adds “I started becoming anxious that someone might call. Having the phone with me at all times has become an addiction. This also happens when I am riding. After taking calls through the day, I feel that my phone is vibrating when I am riding too.” 

Shruthi M, a content developer echoes, “I didn’t even know there was a something like phantom phone vibration, but I have been experiencing it for a while now. Whenever I am away from my phone, I keep thinking that it is vibrating. There have been times when I have woken up from a deep sleep feeling that my phone is ringing. There have also been times when I have rushed through a shower, under the illusion that my phone is vibrating and I might be missing an important call. I didn’t know that these were symptoms of an actual problem.”  

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