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10 Types of Hallucinations

Updated on December 2, 2016

Hallucinations can range from mild to severe. A hallucination is any perception in the absence of a stimulus. While most people think of visual hallucinations, they can also be sounds, or even smells or tastes. Psychoactive drugs, Schizophrenia, and nerve damage are common causes of hallucinations. While some are pleasant, like the scent of perfume that isn't there, others are overwhelming like the sense that insects are crawling all over you.

John Tenniel
John Tenniel

1. Panoramic Hallucinations

Panoramic hallucinations are one of many types of visual hallucinations. When experiencing a panoramic hallucination, one's entire field of vision consists of content that isn't there, as if one was dreaming. The sensation used to be referred to as oneirophrenia which comes from the Greek words for "mind," and "dream." It can be induced by sleep deprivation or psychoactive substances and is also associated with schizophrenia. In the 1960s it was purposely induced during psychoanalytic therapy using the psychoactive drug ibogaine.

2. Musical Ear Syndrome

Auditory hallucinations are also known as paracusia. One such paracusia is Musical Ear Syndrome, the hallucination of music. Robert Schumann, a German 19th century Romantic composer, claimed that his symphonies were directly inspired by his hallucinations. Strangely, over the course of his life, they deteriorated in complexity until he heard only the A tone, constantly.

3. Phantosmia

Phantosmia is the word for olfactory hallucinations, those that affect the sense of smell. The word is derived from the Greek "phanto," which means phantom, and "osmia," which means smell. Caused by nerve damage, the condition most commonly makes one perceive the smell of rotting flesh, vomit, urine, or smoke, although pleasant smells such as perfume are experienced in rare cases. Phantosmia can also be an aspect of schizophrenia. One of its most distressing aspects is that it also affects meals whenever the afflicted tries to eat.

4. Gustatory Hallucinations

Like Phantosmia, gustatory hallucinations are also usually unpleasant, sometimes tasting like something rotten. In this case, they are associated with epilepsy or schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenics frequently perceive the taste of poison in their food or drink. In other instances, the schizophrenic believes that they themselves are the source of the smell. Much like it is still uncertain how the mind actually imagines sounds, what causes schizophrenic hallucinations is still a mystery.

5. Formication

Formication is the sense that insects are crawling all over you. It's mostly associated with withdrawal from drug addiction. If you've read the cult classic Go Ask Alice you may remember a scene where the main character experiences this sensation while in rehab. Formication is a type of paresthesia, which refers to hallucinations of tingling, burning, and numbness and is commonly experienced when a limb "falls asleep." The word itself is Latin for "ant."

7. Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is an infection that causes dysfunction in equilibrioception, the perception of balance. Sight, hearing, and proprioception work together to create balance so that you don’t fall over. Labyrinthitis infects the inner ear causing swelling and subsequently loss of balance, Vertigo, tinnitus, dizziness and hearing loss. Disturbances in balance also lead to nausea and vomiting.

Enrico Mazzanti
Enrico Mazzanti

6. Pinocchio Illusion

The Pinocchio Illusion causes a disturbance in proprioception, the sense of the position of your body parts. If your proprioception is impaired you might feel like your legs, for example, are no longer part of your mental self-image. It can also cause you to feel like the size of body parts are distorted when looking at them. The Pinocchio Illusion can be artificially created by applying a vibrato movement to the biceps tendon while holding your nose with the same arm. This creates the mental illusion that your hand is pulling your nose away from your face when in fact it is stationary.

John Tenniel
John Tenniel

8. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Named after the novel by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland syndrome has two aspects: micropsia and macropsia. Micropsia is the perception that objects are smaller than they actually are and macropsia is the perception that objects are larger than they actually are. Remember the scenes from Alice in Wonderland with the giant flowers? In actuality, it is caused by psychoactive drugs like dextromethorphan which is found in cough syrups or by brain tumors.

9. Somatization Disorder or Hysteria

Somatization Disorder is the perception of pain in the absence of a stimuli. One theory or Somatization Disorder is that the overwhelmed mind is turning emotional stress often caused by social situations into physical symptoms. During the Victorian era, the condition was known as hysteria and it was common for houses to have a "fainting room" for when women had spells of hysteria. The Victorians attributed hysteria to a "wandering womb", which makes absolutely no sense in modern terms.

10. Temporal Illusions

Temporal illusions can make one perceive that time has sped up, slowed down, gone backward, fallen out of sequence or even stopped. Psychoactive substances are often the culprits of these effects. Mescaline is found in Peyote which is derived from a cactus. Peyote was the subject of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception. Huxley became aware of the substance through Native Americans living in New Mexico. The use of peyote among Native Americans is known as Peyotism and is a key part of their religion. One of the spiritual aspects of mescaline is its ability to make the user feel like there is no duration, but only a constant present.

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      Samy 3 years ago

      Thank you so much. I needed this for my English homework, and you just made it way easier for me.

    • profile image

      Samy 3 years ago

      Thank you so much. I needed this for my English homework, aand you just made it way easier for me.

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      Ausseye 4 years ago

      Hi Gen-erationinformed :

      Whoow what a great descriptive and informative hub on a subject just below our senses. Love the labyrinth you weave after tell us that if we hallucinate there’s something wrong with us. Now you take me to the desert where I am out of water and hallucinating a great big lake, ahhh damn it’s not really there. You give the subject intrigue and created a passion for me, hallucinating on the possibilities for our universe……since time doesn’t matter there are endless possibilities. Great hub and filled with mindful intrigues. The best message comes when no drug are involved!!!