Hallucinations are when you perceive something in the absence of an external stimulus. For example, you may hear someone speaking to you even when there is no one around you within your hearing distance. Hallucinations are not just hearing things; it could be of different types. This article is going to give a brief description about the different ways you may hallucinate and in what conditions these may commonly occur.
There are five ways in which a person could hallucinate. They are:
- Auditory hallucination
- Visual hallucination
- Tactile hallucination
- Olfactory hallucination
- Gustatory hallucination
Out of all these, auditory and visual hallucinations are the most common.
Auditory hallucinations are a very commonly reported symptom. These hallucinations can be experienced in the form of noises, voices, or music. It is common for normal people to hear things and find out that there is no source. Mostly, this happens at night when their emotions are heightened or if they are frightened. It is also a common occurrence when many people think they have heard a voice but when they look around, finds no one. However, in psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia, a person will continue to hear things even when others are around who do not hear them.
Auditory hallucination is the most common symptom of schizophrenia. However, it could also occur in other conditions like severe depression, mania, and borderline disorders.
Another commonly reported symptom is the visual hallucination where people see things. These could be experienced as flashes of light or complex images such as a figure of a man. Usually, they are experienced as normal in size, but sometimes, they may seem unusually small or large in size. Visual hallucinations occur in conditions like substance abuse, organic brain disorders such as dementia and delirium, and severe mood disorders. Visual hallucinations are uncommon in schizophrenia.
Tactile hallucinations are uncommon and may be experienced as superficial sensations of being touched, pricked, or strangled. It could be just a sensation just below the skin, which may feel like insects crawling on the skin or burrowing into the tissues. In severe cases, people may develop hallucinations of deep sensations. In such cases, the patient feels their organs being pulled out or distended. Some even develop sexual stimulations.
Tactile hallucinations can occur in severe depression, substance abuse, and schizophrenia.
Olfactory hallucinations are when people begin to smell things. These smells often seem to be recognizable, but usually, they are unlike of any smell they have experienced before and have an unpleasant quality. Olfactory hallucinations are very uncommon and can be seen in conditions like dementia, delirium, and schizophrenia.
Gustatory hallucinations are when people taste things. These are usually odd flavors and are very unpleasant. In most cases, people complain of getting a metallic taste. Gustatory hallucinations are also relatively rare and when they do occur, they may be due to certain conditions like schizophrenia and substance abuse.