What Is Phantom Vibration Syndrome?

Published: Jan 29, 2024 | Revised: Feb 13, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Phone vibrating and hand wanting to pick it up

Phantom Vibration Syndrome (PVS) or Phantom Ringing Syndrome is the idea or perception that one’s smartphone (or other communication device) is buzzing, vibrating, or ringing while it’s not. It’s a type of auditory hallucination occurring in modern society that has become more prevalent in recent years.

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These hallucinations may be experienced at any given time, such as when having dinner, taking a bath, working behind the computer, or watching television. The causes are not “scientifically clear,” but suggestions range from physical nerve damage, a new mental health issue, increased loneliness, problematic use and over-involvement with one’s phone, or the psychologically damaging effects of an “always on” society.

Some research also suggest that it may have to do with (constantly) anticipating a phone call or message, attachment anxiety (or feeling insecure in interpersonal relationships), and/or the momentary condition or circumstances of the person involved, such as anxiety, over-vigilance, stress, or emotional turmoil.

Mind that most people with a smartphone have experienced or currently experience periodic phantom vibrations or ringing, which maybe monthly, weekly, or even daily. Those who are severely disturbed by this phenomenon may try to turn off the vibration or ringing mode, change the vibration tone or ringtone, or carry the phone differently, which sometimes may help to eliminate or reduce the symptoms.

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