What are Hallucinations?

People experience hallucinations when one or more senses cause them to misinterpret reality. Although the person may be aware that the hallucination is not real, they appear as if it were really happening. This can affect any or all senses:

  • Visual. Visual hallucinations involve seeing things that aren’t there. The hallucinations may be of objects, visual patterns, people, and/or lights. For example, you might see a person who is not in the room or flashing lights that no one else can see.
  • Olfactory. Olfactory hallucinations involve your sense of smell. You might smell an unpleasant odor when waking up in the middle of the night or feel that your body smells bad when it doesn’t. This type of hallucination can also include scents you find enjoyable, like the smell of flowers.
  • Auditory. Auditory hallucinations are among the most common. You might hear someone speaking to you or telling you to do certain things. The voice may be angry, neutral, or warm. Other examples of this type of hallucination include hearing sounds, like someone walking in the attic, or repeated clicking or tapping noises.
  • Tactile. Tactile hallucinations involve the feeling of touch or movement in your body. For example, you might feel that bugs are crawling on your skin or that your internal organs are moving around. You might also feel the imagined touch of someone’s hands on your body.
  • Gustatory. Gustatory hallucination is the sensation of tasting something that isn’t really there, typically an unpleasant flavor. Can be a symptom of certain types of epilepsy, or schizophrenia.
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