View Full Version : Visual hallucinations - what they are, what they aren't


dvdnvwls
11-07-14, 12:42 AM
I don't have bipolar, and I've never experienced visual hallucinations. I have two different impressions of what they might be, and I don't know if either impression is close to correct.

Impression #1: Visual hallucinations could mean seeing anything that others wouldn't see, including for example random flashes of light or shadow, indistinct fleeting images, etc. Such images might be readily recognized as not real, though they would still be disturbing or strange when seen.

Impression #2: Visual hallucinations could have a much narrower definition, where the images must be distinct, realistically convincing to the person who sees them, and individually persist long enough to examine and perhaps interact with.

How far off track are either of my impressions?

Laserbeak
11-07-14, 08:48 PM
Hallucinations, like what are caused by taking LSD, are generally mild. Like if you looked at a tree and saw its leaves blowing in the wind, they might look like ornaments on a Christmas tree or something. But you still know they're just leaves.

If you start seeing things that you can't differentiate from reality, then you are no longer hallucinating but in a state of delirium, which, obviously, can be extremely dangerous.

That's as probably as far as I can go here, but feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

Flory
11-07-14, 08:52 PM
Generally speaking auditory hallucinations are much more common than visual hallucinations.

A good website to check out is mind.org it's a great mental health charity but has some interesting and up to date Info on there too

Maurice
11-07-14, 09:57 PM
Hallucinations, like what are caused by taking LSD, are generally mild. Like if you looked at a tree and saw its leaves blowing in the wind, they might look like ornaments on a Christmas tree or something. But you still know they're just leaves.

If you start seeing things that you can't differentiate from reality, then you are no longer hallucinating but in a state of delirium, which, obviously, can be extremely dangerous.

That's as probably as far as I can go here, but feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

Just to add a few to Laserbeak's observations. I wouldn't know but I've "heard" of people seeing trees "breathe", Buildings "melt", colors becoming very vivid, Hearing becoming very acute, light patterns, "traces of light", to name a few I have "heard" about from people experimenting with lysergic acid diethyamide.

Laserbeak
11-07-14, 10:19 PM
Just to add a few to Laserbeak's observations. I wouldn't know but I've "heard" of people seeing trees "breathe", Buildings "melt", colors becoming very vivid, Hearing becoming very acute, light patterns, "traces of light", to name a few I have "heard" about from people experimenting with lysergic acid diethyamide.

Yes, but surely those people of whom you speak didn't believe that was actually happening before their very eyes, did they?

That's the real difference between hallucination and delirium. With the latter, one thinks it is real, or at least can't tell the difference.

TygerSan
11-08-14, 10:05 AM
This is a great article that describes the different causes and types of visual hallucinations. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2660156/

Visual hallucinations can have a myriad of causes, including seizures and migraines. They don't always indicate a state of psychosis or delirium.

I'm not sure quite what the OP's question is, but I think it might be getting at a question of insight? Whether or not the person who is experiencing the hallucinations actually knows that they are hallucinating or not?

I should add that I think Flory's right; auditory and tactile hallucinations are more commonly associated with psychosis than visual. Doesn't mean that visual aren't part of the picture, just that they're less common.

VeryTired
11-08-14, 10:34 AM
What a fascinating article. Thanks, TygerSan.

I sometimes have pre-migraine visual hallucinations--much less exotic than much of what's described in the article. They are scary but it is immediately apparent that they are a symptom, not a reality. One is that it gradually looks as if everything is dark--as if the lightbulbs halved their wattage, or night is falling in daytime, or as if I find myself wearing extremely dark glasses indoors. Another is that my vision closes down, like the iris effect in old movies, getting dark around the edges and leaving only a small circle of visibility at the center. The most notable is when jagged edged black and white shapes start whirling through my visual field, like serrated pinwheels, coming between me and the world, and occupying up to 2/3 of the field. Because all these pyrotechnics are associated with oncoming severe migraine, there is also an awful feeling of energy drain, inertia, and the inexorable approach of terrifying things and loss of control.

Laserbeak
11-08-14, 12:08 PM
Just to add they have no idea why LSD/psilocin/psilocybin/DMT/bufotenine and all those related hallucinogens work. They are serotonin antagonists, yes, but they don't know why that causes hallucinations. Drugs that apparently do exactly the same thing on the neuron cellular level do not cause the general effect on consciousness that is seen in these hallucinogens.

fracturedstory
11-09-14, 11:20 PM
Impression #1: Visual hallucinations could mean seeing anything that others wouldn't see, including for example random flashes of light or shadow, indistinct fleeting images, etc. Such images might be readily recognized as not real, though they would still be disturbing or strange when seen.

This sounds like a visual hallucination in temporal lobe epilepsy, or even the aura before the seizure.

The only time my bipolar lost touch with reality was when I overheard two people arguing, twice, which I later found out didn't happen.

I imagine visual hallucinations are realistic, like a person is in the room talking to you. They're so real you could reach out and touch them and feel something.

Actually, I did hallucinate at my dad's funeral. Demons were dragging him down to hell. It still makes me feel uncomfortable just thinking back. So, I guess I have had spiritual delusions. A few more are coming back to me.

Like I said it's like the person/demon/monster is in the room with you. They're not just an image. They move and talk and invoke emotions such as fear and elation.

fracturedstory
11-09-14, 11:21 PM
Just to add a few to Laserbeak's observations. I wouldn't know but I've "heard" of people seeing trees "breathe", Buildings "melt", colors becoming very vivid, Hearing becoming very acute, light patterns, "traces of light", to name a few I have "heard" about from people experimenting with lysergic acid diethyamide.
I see this stuff a lot.

fracturedstory
11-09-14, 11:23 PM
Yes, but surely those people of whom you speak didn't believe that was actually happening before their very eyes, did they?

That's the real difference between hallucination and delirium. With the latter, one thinks it is real, or at least can't tell the difference.

I think it's the emotions they evoke and the brain being in such a state (to be able to see those things at all) that the person, even if on drugs, can become delusional.
Alcohol will do it for me.