Human Hallucinations and What Causes Them

The human brain is capable of all sorts of amazing feats. After all, it’s the reason why we’re able to navigate and understand the world around us. With that being said, our brains sometimes trick us into seeing and hearing things that aren’t there, no matter how real it feels. This could be for a number of reasons like meditation or even medical conditions. In this article, we will explore the different causes of hallucination in humans. Here are five reasons explaining just that.

1. Sensory Deprivation

Sensory deprivation is a very scary experience from the brain’s perspective since it is designed to take in and interpret stimuli through the five senses. If the brain has been cut off from those things, then it will try to compensate by inventing things from whatever hints of sound it perceives is there. At this point, the sufferer will begin to hear imaginary thoughts and voices and will even have full-blown conversations with them. They also experience vivid visual hallucinations that feel as real as the world around us. It was and is still used as punishment in many prisons around the world today. 

2. Trance States 

Our minds are way more powerful than can ever imagine. It is believed that some people have such great control over it that they can enter a state of self-imposed hypnosis to the point of being able to astral project out their body, if only for a few seconds. This process is known as autoscopic hallucination and it’s very similar to having a near-death experience where one has a full out of body experience. These trance states can be gained through deep meditation which allows us to eliminate our surroundings and replace it with whatever we want to see.

3. Sleep Deprivation

We’ve all been there: a sleepless night because of partying too much or staying up late to prepare for an upcoming exam or presentation. No matter the cause, a lack of sleep eventually takes a toll on our entire body and mind. Our brain and its constituent neurons start to decay, which affects the brain’s ability to make sense of the stimuli it receives from the outside world. The visual cortex is the most affected under sleep deprivation, which is why 80% of people will have a visual hallucination when they don’t get enough sleep. Auditory hallucinations are pretty common too.

4. Hypnopompic Hallucinations

Have you ever just woken up only to be met with a shadowy figure watching you from across the room? That is known as a hypnopompic hallucination and it occurs between the states of waking up and being fully awake. It’s a pretty rare condition too, something that only 12.5 percent of the population experiences. Hypnopompic hallucinations can be pretty scary and one of its most common manifestations is in the form of sleep paralysis, where the person can’t move but is still able to feel, see and hear everything in their vicinity. Some even report being attacked by these entities that only they can see.

5. Blindness

It is estimated that at least 20 to 30 percent of visually impaired people experience nonpsychotic trips known as the Charles Bonnet syndrome. Though, the numbers could be higher because many people don’t feel comfortable talking about it with their families and friends. One 64-year-old woman reported seeing snakes crawling in and out of her body, while other hallucinations can involve 140 small white gnomes skipping around in the snow. These visions are usually very clear, precise and elaborate. Some people perceive them as scary while others simply brush them off.

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