When we think of hallucinations, we usually think of someone going through an episode of mental disturbance caused by trauma, hallucinogens or psychological illness. But, did you know that we can experience some degree of hallucination at any time? It all depends on the psychological impact that some event has on us.
Of course, most people who suffer from hallucinations are due to some kind of mental illness, among the most common we can highlight: schizophrenia, depression, anxieties, fears or psychotic episodes. However, the fatigue to which we subject our brain with the demands of everyday life, can lead us down a very similar path in terms of generating hallucinations.
This is because there are different types of hallucinations that have their own characteristics, which you will learn about in this and that you will be able to know next in this article.
What are hallucinations?
It is a subjective sensory representation that can only be experienced by the person who suffers them and lives them as a realistic experience, even though there is no apparent external stimulus or reason that causes them to appear. However, this does not prevent the person experiencing these hallucinations from perceiving them as any element from the outside, since they do so with the same receptor channels of common stimuli that we can all distinguish.
This sensory disturbance was first conceptualized in 1830 under the term ‘objectless perception’ by the French psychiatrist, Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirolalso known for founding the ‘maison de santé’ or psychiatric hospitals.
Nowadays we know that it is not necessary to suffer from some kind of mental disorder to have hallucinations and that they do not only manifest themselves visually or audibly (as they do in most cases), but can be noticed in all senses and manifestations. For this reason, it is important to know how to recognize when one of these it is important to know how to recognize when one of these hallucinations is to be expected and when it is necessary to go to a psychological specialist.
Why do hallucinations originate?
There are several reasons why people usually have hallucinations, generally related to a brain alteration or condition, which generate the activation of certain e and the overexcitation of neuronal synapses. This phenomenon can have different causes and originssuch as, for example, the following.
1. Mental disorders
It is the most common cause of the origin of hallucinations, since these present a disturbance or disfigurement of the correct neuronal functionality of the brain and its parts. It is more evident in schizophrenia, dementia, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, depression and degenerative diseases.
2. Brain lesions
These may be due to fetal malformation, problems in childbirth, genetic or organic diseases such as cancer, tumors or epilepsies. Which affect the lobes of the brain or its main structures.
3. Drug use
Drugs have hallucinogenic effects due to their psychoactive components, which cause the person to experience all kinds of sensations.
4. Excessive stress
When we subject our body to an excessive amount of stress, we deprive it of adequate rest, which can cause hallucinations as a sign of its exhaustion, since we are in constant tension, anxiety and worry.
Types of hallucinations and their characteristics
Below you will learn about the different types of hallucinations that may be present in the daily life of the people affected.
1. According to their degree of complexity
These hallucinations are measured by their severity and perceptual intensity.
1.1. Simple hallucinations
Also known as elementary hallucinations, they are the most common and mildest of hallucinations and occur on different occasions. They are general noises, whistling, buzzing, shimmering, glittering, spots or blurring of vision (also called photopsias).
1.2. Complex hallucinations
These are more serious hallucinations, since they are more formed or scenic representations. Such as figures, forms, music, voices, of tangible sensation, so they are experienced as part of the objects of reality.
2. According to their sensory modality
These are the most known types of hallucinations, since they are experienced through the senses.
2.1. Visual hallucinations
This, together with auditory hallucinations, are the most common types of hallucinations. In this type of hallucination, the person can see things that are not in the environment, from meaningless shapes or lights, to people, entities, objects and himself as if he were outside his body (autoscopy).
2.2. Auditory hallucinations
As mentioned above, these are another of the most common hallucinations and may have a reassuring or threatening content (which occurs in most cases), although this is more common in people with schizophrenia. They are experienced in different ways:
In the form of threats or commands to harm others.
As an ‘inner voice’ directing the person
Believing that others are talking over him/her
As mumbling and whispering
As random words with no clear meaning
As background noises (common sounds, humming, buzzing, whistling, etc.)
2.3. Olfactory hallucinations
They are one of the least frequent and is usually a manifestation of the severity of a person’s schizophrenic state or excessive drug use. In this case, strong and unpleasant smells are experienced, together with migraines.
2.4. Taste hallucinations
They are also infrequent and are usually accompanied by olfactory hallucinations, likewise, unpleasant tastes or any other type that are not present are experienced.
2.5. Haptic hallucinations
These are known as tactile hallucinations and refer to cutaneous sensations, i.e., sensations experienced on the skin, body or inside the internal organism. They can be of various types:
These are experienced when people feel that someone has done something to their skin, such as touching them, getting them wet, burning them, etc.
In this is the individual who feels that he/she is touching or grabbing some object or being that is not in his/her environment.
This type of hallucination causes the person to experience different degrees of body temperature that do not coincide with the one in the environment or to magnify the real temperature of the environment.
2.5.4. Paresthetic hallucinations
During this hallucination, the person may feel a kind of subtle or intense tingling sensation running through his or her skin. This type of hallucination is more frequent in people who consume drugs or who have other psychotic disorders.
In this type of hallucination, bodily sensations appear that can be mild or more extreme, for example, feeling that a muscle is numb or that one is paralyzed. But also sensations of petrification, tearing, twisting or dissection are often experienced.
2.4. Kinesthetic hallucinations
Also known as kinesthetic hallucinations, it is related to the movement of one’s own body, so the person may feel that he/she is moving, levitating or moving without having any control.
3. According to their etiology
These hallucinations are determined according to the way they appear in the person who experiences them.
3.1. Physiological hallucinations
They are related to bodily mirages, i.e., unusual images or noises are experienced depending on the physical condition of the person at that moment. These usually occur when the body is subjected to stress or an extreme position (such as dehydration, disorientation, lack of oxygen or water).
These hallucinations occur when a factor triggers a stimulus similar to its sensory range. That is to say, for example, that a visual element can trigger the hallucination of a related vision or, when touching someone’s skin, feel that your own hand is burning.
3.3. Organic hallucinations
These hallucinations are caused by some somatic brain disease, which is causing the alteration of the synapse (tumors, epilepsies or degenerative diseases).
3.4. Reflex hallucinations
It is similar to functional hallucinations, except that in this case, the triggering stimulus and the hallucination generated do not have the same sensory field. For example, seeing a piece of furniture and believing that a melody is coming out of it.
3.5. Environmental hallucinations
This type of hallucinations are manifested in people who have an overload or lack of sensory stimulation, because they are exposed to overwhelming elements or, on the contrary, they are in total isolation.
3.6. Negative hallucinations
In this type of hallucination, the person believes that an object that is present in his or her environment (which may be tangible, verifiable and observable) does not really exist, since he or she is not able to perceive it.
3.7. Extracampus hallucinations
Perception here is altered at the level of the field of vision, so that the person may believe that everything is out of reach because he/she cannot determine where the object really is.
3.8. Sleep hallucinations
These are the most common among people who do not have any cognitive alteration, do not consume drugs or present any type of disease. They occur before sleep or before waking up.
These are those that manifest themselves between the stage of wakefulness-sleep, that is, before falling completely asleep and can be visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
These hallucinations (visual, kinesic and auditory) manifest themselves before waking up, so it is related to what we also know as ‘sleep paralysis’.
Have you ever had any kind of hallucination?