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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Apophenia /æpoʊˈfiːniə/ is the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data.
The first use of the term is attributed to Klaus Conrad by Peter Brugger, who defined it as the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness". Apophenia has come to imply a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information, such as gambling.
In 1958, Klaus Conrad published a monograph titled Die beginnende Schizophrenie. Versuch einer Gestaltanalyse des Wahns ("The onset of schizophrenia: an attempt to form an analysis of delusion"), in which he described in groundbreaking detail the prodromal mood and earliest stages of schizophrenia. He coined the word "Apophänie" to characterize the onset of delusional thinking in psychosis. Conrad's theories on the genesis of schizophrenia have since been partially, yet inconclusively, confirmed in psychiatric literature when tested against empirical findings.
Conrad's neologism was translated into English as "apophenia" (from the Greek apo [away from] + phaenein [to show]) to reflect the fact that a schizophrenic initially experiences delusion as revelation.
In contrast to an epiphany, an apophany (i.e., an instance of apophenia) does not provide insight into the nature of reality or its interconnectedness but is a "process of repetitively and monotonously experiencing abnormal meanings in the entire surrounding experiential field". Such meanings are entirely self-referential, solipsistic, and paranoid — "being observed, spoken about, the object of eavesdropping, followed by strangers". Thus the English term "apophenia" has a somewhat different meaning than that which Conrad defined when he coined the term "Apophänie".
"Apophany" should not be confused with "apophony".