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Hallucinations and Delusions

A hallucination is a false awareness taking place with no particular stimulus from an external environment; it pertains to an irregularity in sensitivity or perception. The false perceptions can transpire among any of the five modalities or senses. Hence, a hallucination basically is hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling or feeling anything which is not really there.

The occurrence of hallucinations is not caused by the cultural or religious background of the person, and the individual who is experiencing various types of hallucinations may be for a fact aware that what his perception is actually false, while some may really believe that what they have seen, heard, tasted, felt or smelled is real. In the event that person believes that the hallucinations are real, then the individual may have a delusional understanding of the false perceptions (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

On the other hand, a delusion is an idea which is obviously fictitious and which pertains to an abnormality in the affected content of thought of a person. Like the false perception of a hallucination, the fictitious belief or delusion is not due to the religious or cultural background of a person nor on the intelligence level (Leeser & William, 1999). The chief characteristic of delusion is the scale or level at which the affected person is convinced that all the beliefs are true.

A person affected with a delusion will firmly hold on to the belief without giving any regard to evidences that support the contrary. Delusions can be very hard to tell apart from overrated beliefs, which are perverse beliefs which a person affirms; however the person affected has at least a doubt together with some belief of truthfulness. An affected person is truly convinced that what he sees in his delusions are real and true (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Both hallucinations and delusions are symptoms of either a neurological, mental or medical disorder.

They may be present in the mental disorders of psychotic disorders which includes schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, brief psychotic disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder and schizophreniform disorder, shared psychotic disorder, or by a bipolar disorder, which is a major type of depression associated with psychotic aspects of dementia or delirium (Ohayon, et. al, 1996). Most people may have hallucinations or delusional experiences as parts of their life stages development, specifically during the years in preschool; these can also occur to those who are 2 to 5 years of age.

The usual hallucinations and delusions are causing those who do not have any psychiatric diagnosis with sleep deprivation, exhaustion, rejection and social isolation, amputation of a limb, reaction to hallucinogens like LSD, reaction to medication or reactions to other drugs like cocaine and heroin. On the other hand, the physical causes of hallucinations and delusions may include tumors, delirium, seizures, temporal lobe lesions and sensory pathways irritations (Kaplan & Benjamin, 2002). Hallucinations and delusions must be set apart from illusions. Illusions are the misperceptions of real stimuli from the external environment.

An illusion is fundamentally hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling or feeling anything real, but interpreting it or perceiving it erroneously. Real hallucinations does not cover any fictitious perceptions that takes place while falling asleep, while waking up or while dreaming (Ohayon, et al, 1996). In some cultures, both hallucinations and delusions suffer from stigma, except of course when these are referred to as visions, wherein it can be perceived as a case in which the few people who have witnessed or experienced the ‘hallucinations’ are greatly privileged.

The instinctive gesture of physicians on hallucinations and delusions would be to give the affected individual with a medical prescription of some sort. Such mirrors the prevailing feeling that the experiences must be pinpointing of something pathological that should be treated. Treatment is the proper response for hallucinations and delusions, especially to those who have brain damage, serious neurological diseases and signs of psychoses; however, there are obviously instances when the causes are not necessarily due to psychological dysfunction.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th edn). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. Kaplan, H. , M. D. , & Benjamin, S, M. D. (2002). Kaplan and Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences, clinical psychiatry (8th edn). Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins. Leeser, J. , & William O. (1999). What is a Delusion? Epistemological Dimensions. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108(4), 687-694. Ohayon, M. , Priest, R. Caulet, M, & Guillerminault, C. (1996). Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations: pathological phenomena? British Journal of Psychiatry, 169, 459-467.

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