Several people have asked me about my claim that “group hallucinations” are possible. That is, a “vision” can be seen by many people at once.  It seems counter-intuitive: aren’t hallucinations by definition the inner workings of a person’s mind?  How can more than one person have the same hallucination at the same time?

Well, I’m not sure how that works, psychologically.  My guess is that there is a strong sociological component as well. For example, if something weird is seen by a number of people, one of the persons in the group interprets it, and the rest agree that yes, that is indeed what they saw.  But that’s just my guess.  Maybe some of the trained psychologists on the blog can tell us.

But in any event, it is a well-documented phenomenon.  Here is the query from one of the people who asked the question, specifically with respect to the modern-day appearances of Jesus’ mother, Mary, followed by a brief discussion of the phenomenon taken from my book How Jesus Became God.

Group Hallucinations – The Case of Mary

QUESTION:  Bart, when you refer above to “the hundreds of people who say they have, at one and the same time, seen the Blessed Virgin Mary” what apparition or apparitions are you referring to? Can you give some background details, please? Thank you!

RESPONSE:  Here is a brief discussion taken from my book:

The Blessed Virgin Mary & Group Hallucination

René Laurentin is a modern-day Catholic theologian and expert on modern apparitions, who has written many books on the topic.[1]  He has a degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris, and two PhDs, one in theology and one in literature.  He is not your average intellect. He deeply and sincerely believes that Mary – the mother of Jesus who died 2000 years ago — has appeared to people in the modern world and that she continues to do so.  Here I give just two examples from his writings.

In Cua, Betania, in Venezuela, a woman named Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchin received peculiar spiritual powers: she could tell the future, levitate, and heal the sick.  The Virgin Mary appeared to her…

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