Hallucination is one of the few words or subjects, related to psychology, which are a common interest in general. The word “hallucination” is popular for various reasons. It is interesting to pronounce the word as well as there are several interesting presentations to create curiosity. Some see the hallucination as a fun thing, some as mysterious, some as a special instrument of drama or novel and some also compare hallucinations to special power. The reality is hallucination is a feeling, actually an unusual feeling. Although the feeling and presence of the hallucination are common and almost like real, its effectiveness and presence are uncommon and chaotic almost in all cases. And that is not pleasant at all.
What is hallucination?
The feeling of hallucination is just like the feeling of different senses (e.g. touch, smell, taste, or seen and listen); almost a true feeling/realization. But there is no substantive truth about any stimulation or realization or any other objects. This is the particularity of hallucination. That is, despite having any kind of substance, seeing or hearing or experiencing touch or smell or taste. In other words, it can be said that experiencing something which does not exist.
Many people confuse hallucination with imagination or thought. By imagining or thinking, we can feel like an existent object or event or subject and if we do not want to think about that again, we can stop thinking/feeling. But it is not possible in the case of hallucination. Hallucination is not any imagination! Nobody can have that feeling according to their will. Even those feelings cannot be removed if anybody desires. It means that those feelings are real.
Those feelings continue their own activities themselves. The affected person has no influence or authority and control over them and he thinks those feelings are real. For example, someone may see a person around him; talking to him, touching him and he thinks the person as real. But in reality no such person exists. Others cannot see that person or listen to the person only the affected person can do. And that person will never believe anybody on this earth if they try to convince him the reality. He will not trust anyone rather he will be angry.
It may also happen that the affected person can hear one or two or many people. He may be sitting here but he is listening to someone from America. He will never believe the truth as much as everyone refutes. Because it is not a matter of logic rather it is an issue of disease and treatment. Some people view them as miracles too.
In many cases, we see at the beginning of the disease or after a few days of treatment, some patients, especially who are intelligent, understand the matter that the experience that they are having is not real. And then it becomes painful for him. Many people cry a lot and they cry and do not want to listen to those sounds that they hear. Some people even hit their head to the wall too. These experiences are illusory and not a miracle at all rather a grotesque feeling related to a disease.
Why it happens?
Why it happens is still not clear. However, there are lots of explanations on the situations where hallucination can affect or cannot. Mostly it is related to psychological problems or diseases. But hallucination can also affect in some cases with physical problems. Hallucination is not a disease itself rather it is a symptom of other diseases. So it is not possible to diagnose or describe a specific disease by hallucination. Mental disorders like schizophrenia, savior mood disorder and delusional disorder often have hallucination as symptom. Addicted persons can also be affected with different hallucinations. Physical problems like brain injury can be the reason for hallucination too. Sometimes, people can have short-term hallucinations due to the variation of salt.
Diagnosis and treatment of hallucination
In some cases, hallucinations are easier to understand but sometimes it becomes difficult. Many times, hallucinations are confused with imagination or thinking. Since hallucination is not a disease but a symptom, it always has many similarities with the type of the disease behind it. So to diagnosing hallucination, overall diagnosis of the main disease is important and it has to be done by the experts.
Treatment depends entirely on the disease behind it. The treatment of the diseases is basically the treatment of hallucination. However, in almost all cases its treatment is based on antipsychotic medication and it is same in the case of physical problems or addiction too. But in those cases, the physical problem has to be treated accordingly and the patient has to quit drugs.
This is a very important issue. As the hallucinations seem to be genuinely true or realistic, the person’s reaction on that feeling is also there. Maybe a patient can hear, “you should die or jump otherwise it will be horrible for you” because of hallucination. Like this the patient can hear many unpleasant things and he trusts them so much that he does things according to the instructions he gets. It can also happen that the affected person can hurt the closest person of him because of his hallucination. So it is really dangerous for the patient himself and the family/relatives too. So it is very important to understand and identify quickly. And above all the patient should get the treatment as soon as possible.
Professor Dr. Shalahuddin Qusar Biplob
Professor and Coordinator- Psychiatric Sex Clinic, Dept. of Psychiatry, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University- BSMMU, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Former Mental Skills Consultant, Bangladesh Cricket Board