Health & Wellness News and Tips
Priya K + Follow 02 Mar 2016
Hallucinations: The shortest scary story

Before the era of selfies, we needed a negative to capture a picture and then make a visit a photo studio to get the actual photographs. If one were to see the negative, the picture would appear not only distorted but also ghost-like. During a hallucination, such is the condition of the mind. It is a profound distortion in a person's perception of reality, typically accompanied by a powerful sense of reality. Hallucination may be a multi-sensory experience in which a person can see, hear, smell, taste, or feel something that is not there, things that don't exist outside their mind.

Hallucinations can occur in any of the following sensory modalities:

  • Visual: A visual hallucination is the perception of a visual that doesn’t exist. Visual hallucinations could be simple or complex. Simple visual hallucinations are those where the images are not formed and do not have a structure, for example, lights and geometric shapes. Complex hallucinations on the other hand are those where the images are fully formed, for example, images of people or objects.
  • Auditory: Auditory hallucinations are the perception of sound and are most common.
  • Olfactory: Phantosmia is the phenomenon of smelling odours of things that are not actually present. The most common odours are unpleasant smells such as rotting flesh, vomit, and urine.
  • Gustatory: This type of hallucination is the perception of taste.
  • Tactile: Tactile hallucinations are the perception of tactile sensory input that simulate various types of pressure to the skin or other organs.

Now you see me. Or not.

There are many reasons that may cause hallucinations:

  • Being drunk or high from alcohol or drugs
  • Delirium or dementia
  • Epilepsy that involves a part of the brain called the temporal lobe
  • Fever, especially in children and the elderly
  • Narcolepsy
  • Psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and psychotic depression
  • Sensory problem, such as blindness or deafness
  • Severe illness, including liver failure, kidney failure, AIDS, and brain cancer

If you experience a person around you seemingly suffering from hallucination, how would you identify it happening and what would you do to help? A person who begins to hallucinate and is detached from reality should get checked by a health care professional right away. Many medical and psychiatric conditions that can cause hallucinations may quickly become emergencies. A person who begins to hallucinate may become nervous, paranoid, and frightened, and should not be left alone. If someone appears to be hallucinating and is unable to tell hallucinations from reality, call your health care provider, take him to the emergency room, or call the local emergency number.

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