6 Reasons You Can Start Hallucinating
Part of what makes hallucinations so scary is the victim’s inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Another thing that makes them terrifying is their many different causes.
Is it possible their hallucinations were caused by one of the rare conditions below?
FOLIE À DEUX AND MASS HYSTERIA
The former is a psychological condition involving a small group of people coming under a collective delusion, reinforcing each other’s often paranoid beliefs, such as in the case of a BBC report of an Australian family that believed people were after them and subsequently went missing while on an off-the-grid road trip.
Mass hysteria occurs in larger groups, spreading quickly, and commonly includes symptoms of fainting, nausea and hyperventilation.
Both scenarios can be triggered by stress, and possibly devolve into hallucinatory symptoms, as was the case in one Malaysian boarding school. Vice reported that after a small group of students claimed to have seen a black figure lurking around the school, “more students and then teachers said they’d seen the figure or felt a supernatural presence.” Eventually about 100 people were affected.
The brain is a delicate organ, so even small anomalies can wreak havoc on the system. Trauma such as the type that would cause a concussion can cause a brain lesion, according to the Mayo Clinic, as could an aneurysm, cancer or multiple sclerosis, among others.
Lesions can affect cognitive function, and in some cases lesions in the visual center of the brain could lead to hallucinations, an article in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry says.
The most ironic cause of hallucinations has to be visual impairment, whether from glaucoma, cataracts, tumors or other ailments.
According to Live Science, Charles Bonnet syndrome gives people “vivid, complex visual hallucinations,” commonly faces, cartoons and patterns. “It is thought the condition occurs because the brain’s visual system is no longer receiving visual information from the eye or part of the retina, and begins making up its own images.”