Causes of Phantom Vibration Syndrome

The brain pathways and receptors become desensitized and altered that the stimuli of clothing touching or rubbing upon the skin simulates the vibration of the phone enough that the brain falsely registers a phone activating. Tighter clothes likely have a higher rate of inducing phantom sensations as the tighter fabric weave is more likely to rub the skin as it is literally enveloping the skin with a constant, albeit subtle, tactile impression.

The interaction with technology has taken on a primordial importance in our existence much like food and shelter and due to our unrelenting utilization of our wireless devices we have become conditioned to prepare for or become involved inevitably with an interaction with our devices and technology. This new conditioning for interacting with devices has led to unrelated stimuli being associated with the interaction.

Because it is generally accepted that people prefer to receive phone calls and not to miss the phone calls the brains system of perception is being adjusted to increase the neural sensitivity to the vibrating phone (signifying a call) with a higher bias to such a heightened level that it makes missing phone calls unlikely. The brain wants to ensure no rewards are missed, no phone calls are missed, and to avoid the negative emotional feeling associated with missing a potentially positive communication. The unavoidable consequence of this is a ramped upward incline towards false alarms and phantom phone vibrations. Studies have indicated that personalities that seek out excitement and new situations have a higher predisposition to PVS as they equate the phone with the potential announcement that triggers feelings of excitement or novelty.

Announcements and research presentations were often met with scorn and derision from bloggers and tech-writers and social commentators who said that to justify the existence of PVS was just another example of how society was becoming nothing but victims of a bubble-wrap mentality where every new device was suddenly causing health problems. It became the butt of jokes and online cartoons to use the odd sensation of a phone ringing and vibrating like a ghost to reference Dilbert cartoons or to laugh at anyone who dared to suggest that the issue should be taken seriously. Bullies would tell people they were being foolish or just overly sensitive or even say “you’re just crazy” and say the symptoms were nothing more than the imagination playing tricks on you.

The 2012 releases on the subject by Drouin, Kaiser, & Miller as well as the earlier 2010 released literature from Rothberg, Arora, Hermann, St. Marie & Visintainer suggested the potential that the phantom vibrations reflected a physical manifestation of anxiety that pre-existed in the patient and that the cellphone was the trigger that elicited this effect. The editorial summaries of the authors signaled the possibility that the phantom vibrations were in the realm of text message addiction which can be extrapolated to other online addictions like Facebook addiction or Pinterest addiction which are part of a modern version of social anxiety and social sensitivity in the new modern wireless world.

The global reach of wireless devices and smartphones which current estimates suggest are over 6 billion wireless phone devices in use on the planet. The sheer number of the population in the world who depend on their devices for work, organization, social networking and amusement, travelling, mapping, phone calls and operating other devices means that clinical findings showing an inherent risk and potential damage to health from the use or overuse of wireless phones and devices would be a veritable threat to the function of a new world order. Advertising and marketers of the technology that suggests Wi-Fi as an essential service that needs to be offered to all and that the new devices are better and faster for social networking and controlling our smart-homes and capturing photos and uploading images and Tweets to our social media accounts. Much the way cigarette marketers made publicity that glamorized cigarettes all the while knowing they were a toxic product that was killing people the new technology developers and generation hashtag are being shown how the delights of happiness and ego gratification are only as far as their smartphone or device’s screen.

Signs have been showing in the past but our desire to embrace this new digital revolution has made us filter out any data that shows the dangers of technology and the effects on our health and mental state. In a 1995 initiative study Robert Kraut and colleagues provided free internet access and a new computer to 93 American households who had no Internet experience, this was 1995 after all and despite the fact that now every 10 year old has a phone which is receiving electromagnetic waves and transmitting waves similar to microwaves but 20 years ago the Internet was new, and the researches tracked the psychological health of the 93 families over several years in what was called “The HomeNet Project”.

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