Hallucinations Why do we perceive what does not exist?

Alexander Pearson
Hallucinations Why do we perceive what does not exist?

And, one day the mind jumps from imagination to hallucination, and the congregation sees God, hears God. Oliver sacks

Today we present an overview of hallucinations from the point of view of sensory perceptions, as well as its correlation with different sense organs. The complexity of the issue resides in the fact that it is an issue that has been given little importance and is associated, more with symptoms of disease. It is rarely related to different states of consciousness that can produce health or balance as in the case of meditation. This article proposes an analysis in terms of harmonic energy or constructive interferences related to a state of health, to neutralize non-harmonic energy or destructive interferences related to a state of disease..


  • Identification of reality
  • What are hallucinations?
  • Etiology and types of hallucinations
  • Mental illnesses or psychotic disorders
  • Other mental disorders
    • Consumption of toxic substances
    • Related to sleep
    • Cognitive Distortion
    • Extreme conditions
    • Hypnotic states
    • Neurological disease
    • By electrical stimulation
    • Physical illness
  • The sense organs: an antenna that captures signals and transforms them
    • Final reflection
    • Bibliography

Identification of reality

In the complexity of this subject, there is a very blurred limit where the hallucination itself, a distorted perception, a cognitive distortion or an illusion are mixed. Reality is neutral, but we perceive it, according to the information we receive from outside, we store it, decode it, process it and then interpret it.

Capturing external information through our sense organs in psychology is known as a bottom-up process, it is the input or input of information.

Subsequently, a series of complex intermediate and simultaneous processes occur, which are analyzed in how information travels in the body and in the brain? through a communication; physical, chemical and electrical. External stimuli are captured by different types of energy and are transformed or transduced so that they are interpreted by the brain.

Later that information comes out, according to our personality, our context and it is the interpretation that we make of reality, this is known as a top-down process, it is the output of information or the behavior itself.

It is completely "normal" so to speak, that each of us interprets reality differently and it is common for this reason that we also say that each of our brains is different from another. Even in the singularity of this fact, it gives us an impressive richness to see the interpretation of art and the diversity of the works of:

  • Pablo Picasso: One of the creators of Cubism. He was also a sculptor, died due to pulmonary edema (Picasso, 2018).
  • Vincent Van Gogh: self-taught painter, with a difficult character and a strong temperament. The left earlobe was mutilated. The last years of his life were marked by his permanent psychiatric problems. At the end of his days, he had fits of despair and hallucination that prevented him from working (Van Gogh, 2018), or
  • Yayoi Kusama: Japanese artist who embodies his work of circles has experienced hallucinations and obsessive thoughts since childhood with suicidal tendencies (Kusama, 2018).

All this in itself is already complex, due to the superposition of the different interpretations we make of reality and our own internal realities, but I will try to explain it in a simpler way despite this..

A first conclusion about all hallucinations is that they break with all logic of reality and can have different origins. They order and restructure our reality and can produce a new reality that limits or broadens our perceptual horizons..

It is associated with an internal or external stimulus that produces them and although it does not correspond to a real experience, for the brain of the person who experiences them they are completely real.

Hallucinations seem real and can also border between the real and the mysterious, generating fascination and distrust. On the scientific side, they go from "normal" to pathological. And, they range from the divine to the fascinating as a sign that informs us of the internal world of those who experience them..

The importance of the subject of hallucinations is that non-ordinary states of consciousness have been a subject of little interest to science and this has led to a delay in its knowledge. However, if it has been a path used in the study of the brain, studying the "abnormal" to explain normality.

What are hallucinations?

There are many definitions of the concept of what is a hallucination, and each one of them emphasizes some aspect of this complex, but interesting subject; Among the most significant are:

  • They consist of perceiving things like sights, sounds or smells that seem real, but are not. These things are created by the mind (MedlinePlus, 2018).
  • Hallucinations are defined as the perceptions that arise in the absence of any external reality: seeing or hearing things that are not present (Salud y Psicología, 2014).
  • In schizophrenia, hallucinations: these are perceptions in which the person hears, sees or feels things that originate inside his own brain and that, although he experiences them as if they were real, they are not real.
  • Hallucinations are defined as the perception through any of the senses, of a stimulus that is not really present in the situation. This stimulus is perceived as real, despite not being present (CIPSIA, 2017).
  • The DSM IV defines a hallucination as a sensory perception that, apparently real, occurs without the external stimulation of the sensory organ corresponding to the hallucination..
  • Yet another, proposed by Lehmann and González, mention that it constitutes a mental state whose content is conscious, involuntary and, in certain aspects, similar to dreams and perception (Lehmann & González, 2009).
  • False sensory perception that has a convincing sense of reality despite the absence of an external stimulus. It can affect any of the senses, but auditory hallucinations and visual hallucinations are more common. Hallucination is usually a symptom of psychosis, although it can also be the result of drug use or a medical condition such as epilepsy, brain tumor, or syphilis (APA, 2010).

Etiology and types of hallucinations

They can be caused by head trauma or concussion, tumors, consumption of toxic substances (drugs, medicines, plants or fungi), inhalation of toxic substances, various diseases (cancer, multiple sclerosis, high cholesterol), alterations in the structure and functionality of the brain or even viruses (herpes simplex type 1) or bacteria that make the body sick and alter the mind.

However, we can experience them all when the sense organs are spliced ​​as in the case of synesthesia, perception of the same sensation through different senses.

Mozart described some musical notes with colors, for him: the “D major” was a warm yellow, the “minor yes” was black, and the “la” was red, this condition where the senses intermingle is called synesthesia that “it has one in every twenty-five thousand human beings” (Animal Planet, 2012). However, there is still no complete agreement with the figures, since in the United Kingdom data it is said that this condition is presented by one in every two thousand people (Punset, 2011).

There are those who when listening to numbers an intricate geometric shape comes to mind, on the other hand when listening to music they see colors this condition is called synesthesia or united sensations. The most common synesthesia is related to associating numbers and colors, but there are more and any of the senses may be involved. Just as anesthesia means not to have sensations, in Greek synesthesia means to join or mix senses. It is curious to see how it is possible to live in a totally normal way with absolutely different perspectives among the same humans.

Then then:

  • if you see the sounds,
  • you feel or taste the colors and flavors
  • words and textures have taste and smell,
  • do you hear figures or shapes,
  • you add the colors, you find yourself in the world of synesthesia (Psyciencia, 2014).

According to Julia A. Nunn (2002), the brains of synesthetes are different, although she points out that this difference should not be considered as brain damage.

Hallucinations are also experienced when we go to sleep. One in three people live them before falling asleep, as will be seen later.

Hallucinations are one of the main symptoms, along with the delusions of psychotic disorders. Hallucinations are also one of the most important criteria for the diagnosis of psychotic disorders and generate other derived psychological problems such as anxiety, depression or self-esteem problems. To classify hallucinations, the type of sense by which the hallucination is perceived is used as a criterion (CIPISA, 2017).

They affect our sense organs and are perceived by: hearing, touch, taste and smell. And, they also affect our balance and orientation. Today we know a little more about them through brain imaging studies.

Sensory deprivation, that is, the deliberate reduction or suppression of stimulation in one or more senses, if prolonged enough, can lead to hallucinations. Conversely, a sensory overload can also produce a hallucinatory experience (Lehmann & González, 2009).

An extremely interesting aspect is that no one is exempt from not experiencing them in health or illness.

Mental illnesses or psychotic disorders

To cite one example, it occurs in schizophrenia, a psychotic disorder characterized by disturbances in thinking (cognition), emotional sensitivity and behavior, although some claim that disorganized thinking is the most important isolated characteristic (APA, 2010).

Schizophrenia. These sensations are had through the sense organs and are the following:

  • Auditory: when the person hears a voice inside their head that speaks to them.
  • Tactile or kinesthetic: the person has abnormal sensations in the body without being touched.
  • Olfactory: when strange odors are perceived.
  • Gustatory: when you have flavors different from the usual ones.
  • Visual: when they see something in others that they did not see before.

Other mental disorders

They also occur in: dementia, delirium, psychotic depression, bipolar disorder, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (characterized by bizarre and distorted perceptions of time and space. Patients with this syndrome see objects or parts of their body as smaller or larger than they actually are or even altered), clinical lycanthropy (believing that the person becomes a werewolf), mass hysteria, shared psychotic disorder or shared insanity (usually be triggered by stress), Ekbom syndrome or delusional parasitosis (they firmly believe that they are infested with parasites that move under the skin) and other pathologies (Romero & Moya, s / f).

Consumption of toxic substances

  • Alcohol, ecstasy, LSD, Angel powder or Phencyclidine, marijuana, peyote, mushrooms (stropharia cubensis), Drugs in general, side effects of various drugs (some opiate-derived analgesics, anthocholinergics, anticonvulsants, H2 antihistamines, carbamazepine and ketamine) ( Romero & Moya, s / f).

Related to sleep

  • Narcolepsy, Deprivation, at the beginning of sleep (hypnagogic), at the end of sleep (hypnopompic). According to various epidemiological studies, 37 percent of the population experiences hypnagogic and 13 percent hypnopomonic..

Cognitive Distortion

  • Cognitive distortions are those wrong ways we have to process information, that is, misinterpretations of what happens around us, generating multiple negative consequences (Sánchez, 2012). Examples of this are polarized thinking: You cannot perceive the midpoints, there is only white or black, you are for me or against me. Confirmatory bias: there are only opinions or facts that match my way of thinking.

Extreme conditions

  • Prolonged sensory isolation, food deprivation, lack of oxygen due to altitude or mountain sickness. The latter is a disease that can affect mountaineers, hikers, skiers or travelers at high altitudes, usually above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). It is caused by a reduction in atmospheric pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes (MedlinePlus, 2018).

Hypnotic states

  • Deep meditation. The goal of meditation is to transform the mind. It does not have to be associated with any particular religion. Each of us has a mind and each of us can work on it (Ricard, 2017).
  • Hypnotic process or mystical ecstasy.

Neurological disease

  • Epilepsy and Parkinson's

By electrical stimulation

  • The direct stimulation of certain areas of the brain (by means of electrical currents) can produce more or less complex hallucinations; specifically, stimulation of Herschel's gyrus produces auditory hallucinations (Lehmann & González, 2009).

Physical illness

  • Epilepsy, Herpes simplex type 1, kidney failure, HIV / AIDS, Brain cancer, fever.

The sense organs: an antenna that captures signals and transforms them

The sense organs initially allow us to relate to our universe and to survive. Without them we would not make life as we used to on a daily basis.

The process by which we feel something has several facets: the reception of the external signal that excites the corresponding organ of sense; the transformation of information into a nervous signal; the transport and modification that this signal undergoes to finally reach the brain and give us the feeling of having felt something. The sense organs are what in engineering are called transducers, that is, transformers of certain signals, physical or chemical, into electrical signals that are transmitted by our nerves. At present there is still a great ignorance of the detailed functioning of the senses. Eliezer Braun (2011), points out that today more than the traditional ones are known: spatial perception, perception of movement, persistence of vision, kinetic, static and dynamic sensations and internal sensations.

The global biological behavior of our cells and specialized structures of the brain can be controlled by invisible forces, including our thoughts, health-disease states, our hallucinations and also by chemical messengers such as neuroconductors, but also when they are consumed. external agents such as medicines or drugs.

Of the fifty trillion cells that our body has, cell membranes capture information from outside and we call this the nervous system. Energy is matter, said Einstein, therefore, we are beings formed by energy and / or matter. However, due to Newtonian materialistic biases, mainstream researchers have completely ignored the role that energy plays in health and disease. However, the quantum perspective reveals that the universe is an integration of interdependent energy fields that are immersed in a complicated network of interactions (Lipton, 2010).

Roughly speaking, our brain is divided into two parts called cerebral hemispheres and each part into more specialized ones capable of capturing as a specialized antenna the different external stimuli that correspond to different types of energies and which are transformed and interpreted to be interpreted as one. hallucination whether it was created from a brain trained in meditation or not trained as in the case of hallucinations produced by mental illness.

In the case of synesthesia, the result is that these specialized areas intersperse the information captured from the outside and interpreted from the inside with different antennas and does not indicate a disease, but a condition, not very common, but it is one more form among many others. to process energy.

Final reflection

Although the study of hallucinations presents several variations, from the medical, psychological, psychiatric, anthropological, sociological, philosophical and more points of view, its central point has been the perception is real for those who live it and invisible for those who only listen to their description.

Currently, although they represent conscious and unconscious states of health or disease, it is a terrain of curiosity or symptoms of a pathological state.

It is necessary to delve into a terrain prior to perception. I would call it a quantum analysis where energy (mind) and matter (body) intertwine and produce their different types of hallucinations, analyzing the physical and environmental environment and its correlation between structures, processes and products whose target organ is the brain..

It is becoming more and more common to hear how electromagnetic signals are much more effective in helping our cells in their process of self-regulation, transmission of information and healing. We can produce hallucinations or creative visualizations from a state of health, to reduce the risks that occur in hallucinations that we cannot control from a state of illness..

Using energy is a reality in Positron Emission Tomographs or Magnetic Resonances and they are capable of reading the spectrum of energy radiation emitted by a healthy or diseased organ shown in exploratory images..

All organisms, including humans, communicate and interpret their environment by evaluating energy fields. Since humans are so dependent on spoken and written language, we have neglected our sensory energy-based communications system. As with any other biological function, lack of use leads to "sensory atrophy." For example, Australian aborigines can perceive where the water is buried under the sand and Amazonian shamans can communicate with the energies of their medicinal plants (Lipton, 2010).

It will be worth considering positive hallucinations in terms of harmonic energies or constructive interferences and those that indicate a pathological state as non-harmonic energies or destructive interferences..


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