A term defined by James Randi as "the overpowering need by some people
to accept and believe something preposterous, and the ability to ignore
and dismiss the contrary evidence, no matter what it's quantity, nor how
strong it is."
The syndrome is named after Lady Henriette Tichborne, who lived during the
19th century. Having lost her adult son in a seafaring accident, Lady Henriette
spent the rest of her life wanting to believe that her son was still alive.
So strong was her need that when an impostor, originally by the name of Arthur
Orton showed up claiming to be the lost Sir Roger Tichborne, that she immediately
accepted him as her long-lost son.
There was overwhelming evidence that the man claiming to be Sir Robert was
indeed a fraud. While the real Sir Robert was slim and had a tattoo, Orton was
obese and had none. He couldn't produce any facts of his supposed past life,
fabricating obvious lies when pressed. None of this mattered to Lady Henriette,
however. She would just rationalize it all, stating "He confuses everything
as in a dream". To the end of her days, she lived the comforting fantasy
of a still living son.