HALLUCINATION – REAL OR FAKE?

There’s a good chance you’ve hallucinated before. If you’ve ever felt the buzz of your phone against your thigh when it isn’t actually buzzing or imagined a text message that isn’t there. It’s all just a sensory perception of something that isn’t real. And that’s what hallucination is all about.

Well, are these hallucinations always real?

There are people who intentionally pretend to hear voices or see things trying to manufacture hallucinations for their personal gain. The idea of fake hallucination is mostly with criminals trying to avoid prosecution or the death penalty for a crime they’ve committed.

Also, there are attempts by homeless people just to get a warm bed and a hot meal. Many patients even put a condition to injure themselves. They behave like they are being possessed and someone is making them do such things. These are the attempts to authenticate fake hallucinations and pressurize healthcare workers to get what they want.

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Despite all these fake hallucinations, Genuine hallucinations do exist in reality. You probably think that hallucinations are all about seeing things that aren’t real. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

It could mean to touch or even smell something that doesn’t really exist. Hallucinations are created by your own mind.

Hallucination can affect all five of your senses and hence categorized into five types.

Auditory Hallucinations

These are among the most common type of hallucinations. You may sense sounds coming from inside or outside your mind. You might hear someone talking to you or telling you to do something. The voices may be angry, neutral, or warm. There are other examples such as hearing sounds of someone walking, repeated clicking, or clapping.

Olfactory Hallucinations

This one involves your sense of smell. You may smell an unpleasant odor that is coming from something around you or from inside you. You might feel an unknown and weird smell suddenly waking you up in the middle of the night. This type of hallucination can also include a pleasant smell of scents or flowers.

 Gustatory Hallucinations

These are very much similar to olfactory Hallucinations, but they deal with the sense of taste instead of smell. These tastes are strange or unpleasant often with a metallic taste. You may feel an odd taste from something that you usually eat or drink with enjoyment.

Tactile or somatic hallucinations

This is about the feeling of touch or movement in your body. You might feel as if you’re being tickled even when no one is actually there. The feeling of an imagined touch of someone’s hand on your body or insects crawling on or under your skin is also common.

Visual Hallucinations

These involve seeing things that aren’t there. You might see various objects, visual patterns, lights or, people you know and even new unknown faces. You may also see objects with wrong shapes or things moving in a way they usually don’t.

Rich results on google's SERP when searching for 'hallucination'.

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You’ve no idea how widespread and varied hallucinations can be. A survey in the early 1980s found that 10-15% of the USA population experienced hallucinations at some point in their lives.

Have you ever thought about why is it so common that people perceive things that aren’t there, and how does the brain allow this to happen?

The answer revolves around “expectations”. An evident experiment proves that Hallucinations are mostly linked to expectations. People understand the world around them in their own way of thinking.

Hence the brain works by “predictive coding”. It means integrating new information based on the beliefs built on old information.

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“ We actually build a model in our mindsets of whatever we expect to be present.”

Our brain has the ability to over-predict. It can expect something that doesn’t even exist. And this expectation can be so powerful and intense that we actually perceive the non existent thing. Thus making a Hallucination.

Author: Subhasmita Nayak

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