Phantom limbs, or ghost limbs, are the subjective report of the awareness of a nonexisting or deafferented body part in a mentally otherwise competent individual. The term was coined by Weir Mitchell in the nineteenth century, but parts other than limbs (either congenitally absent or following amputation) may be affected by phantom phenomena, such as lips, tongue, nose, eye, penis, breast and nipple, teeth, and viscera. Phantom phenomena are perceived as real by the patient, may be subject to a wide range of sensations (pressure, temperature, tickle, pain), and are perceived as an integral part of the self. Such "limbless perception" is thought to reflect the mental representation of body parts generated within the brain (body schema), such that perception is carried out without somatic peripheral input. Reorganization of cortical connections following amputation may explain phantom phenomena, such as representation of a hand on the chest or face, for which there is also evidence from functional brain imaging.
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