A hallucination is an erroneous perception of a sensory stimulus, in other words, an alteration of the senses. These hallucinations can therefore be visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, or even cenesthetic. The most common are those affecting sight and hearing.
What causes hallucinations? Who is concerned? Focus on this symptom and the different solutions to treat them.
How to recognize hallucinations?
A hallucination is defined as an erroneous perception of a stimulus that does not exist. The perceived information is therefore not real. A distinction is made between sensory hallucinations and psychic hallucinations.
So-called sensory hallucinations affect one of the five senses. The most common are visual and auditory hallucinations.
- Visual hallucinations: visions can be simple glows or on the contrary be much more complex;
- acoustic (or auditory) hallucinations: these are characterized by the sensation of hearing voices. In this case, the affected person will not easily talk about his hallucinations;
- tactile hallucinations: These are characterized by burning sensations, stings, hot or cold sensations, tingling, or itching. Often, the affected person scratches in order to make them disappear;
- olfactory or gustatory hallucinations: less known than other types of hallucinations, they cause the sensation of unpleasant smells and/or tastes or on the contrary “paradise”.
Note that these different types of sensory hallucinations can occur simultaneously.
The so-called psychic hallucinations are experienced by the person who is affected by an intrusion of the outside world into his own life. It is as if another character has intruded into his consciousness by imposing a way of acting and thinking. This type of hallucination includes cenesthetic (or bodily) hallucinations, which concern the internal sense of the body. When the subject perceives caresses or touching, it is called genital cenesthetic hallucinations.
What other symptoms are associated with hallucinations?
It is possible that visual hallucinations are accompanied by mystical or erotic delusions.
Regarding auditory hallucinations, the behavior can alert those around you, because the person may find themselves talking alone or have a listening attitude.
Other symptoms can add to hallucinations:
- epileptic seizure
- chronic depression or anxiety
- visual disturbances (in case of visual hallucinations);
- hearing problems (in case of auditory hallucinations);
- aggressive behavior;
- unusual beliefs.
What causes hallucinations?
The causes are many and varied. These include, but are not limited to:
- a psychiatric illness: schizophrenia, delirious flushing, or hallucinatory psychosis;
- neurological involvement: encephalitis, epilepsy, tumor, Parkinson’s disease;
- the use of hallucinogenic substances, psychostimulants, or certain medications;
- alcohol consumption;
- a chronic disease: liver failure, renal failure, or hypocalcemia;
- an infectious disease: malaria, syphilis;
- a neurodegenerative disease: Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
What are the consequences of hallucinations?
The consequences of hallucinations can be more or less serious, depending on their cause, their frequency, but also the way they are treated. They may concern:
- the psyche.
Thus, hallucinations can result in social isolation, the arrival of mystical revelations accompanied by passionate or even dangerous speeches, or serious and reprehensible actions in the most serious cases (suicide, murder). A person with visual or auditory hallucinations often develops an anxious state and fear.
What are the solutions to treat hallucinations?
Diagnosis of the cause
The psychiatrist will first check that these are not simple hallucinations. He will question and examine the patient. If they are hallucinations, several examinations can be performed:
- a blood test;
- MRI of the brain;
- an electroencephalogram.
Treatment of hallucinations
Solutions to treat hallucinations depend greatly on their cause. These include:
- taking antipsychotics, which are often quite effective;
- taking anxiolytics;
- hospitalization (to facilitate the resumption of contact with reality);
- psychotherapy or psychoanalysis.
In all cases, prompt consultation with a doctor or psychiatrist is necessary. If sensory hallucinations are caused by alcohol or drug use, detoxification may be considered.
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