Inside Hallucinations with Schizophrenia
Talking about hallucinations brought on by schizophrenia can be triggering to some. For others, it can be therapeutic to discuss their experience. Living with and managing hallucinations can be a process. What is a hallucination? A hallucination can be described as seeing, hearing, or feeling something that isn't there. There are visual hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, tactile, and other sensory hallucinations.
One of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia is hallucinations. Hollywood sensationalizes them. Stories of hearing voices and seeing things that are not there are familiar. The general population of people living with schizophrenia has experienced hallucinations. For some people, this is the scariest part of schizophrenia, and for others, it is the most exciting part.
Experiencing Hallucinations Due to Schizophrenia
What differentiates one experience of hallucinations from another? It can all be left up to the one having the experience. Some people experience whispers, seeing shadows or shadow figures, seeing or hearing religious figures, or meeting people who don't exist. I have experience with hearing the voice of God and my friend Amalia Narine who passed away in a car accident.
A complex hallucination I experienced was when I felt her spirit possess my body and began hearing her voice. I cried for hours and tried to drink away the symptoms. This was a hazardous and wrong approach.
After a subsequent trip to the hospital, I began my regimen with new medication and intensive outpatient treatment. The voices subsided, and the crying spells eventually stopped. It took a few months of continuing my medications and talking with my family about my new condition. Finally, I spoke with my therapist, and she informed me that I was going through a process of mourning. I had not yet worked through the steps of mourning. She helped me mourn, and I was able to continue my recovery.
With medication, my hallucinations stopped. Some people living with schizophrenia have treatment-resistant symptoms and may still experience hallucinations on a smaller scale. Many people with schizophrenia have the same hallucinations or can share similar stories. It is common to see or hear religious figures. Hallucinations come and go in intervals of seconds to minutes. Some hallucinations are triggered, while others aren't. Hallucinations tend to be relative to the person's life and can be outside of their body. Voices can be male or female voices.
Common Hallucinations of Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Illnesses
Pop culture's representation of hallucinations is largely wrong. While God, angels, devils, and saints are familiar tropes, hearing booming angry voices screaming at you is largely untrue. Violent tendencies from hallucinations are another Hollywood theme. Most people with schizophrenia are peaceful and misunderstood. Seeing monsters is generally incorrect. Seeing "shadow people" is much more accurate. You may see shadows as menacing shapes and experience seeing things out of your peripheral vision.
Some auditory hallucinations can be command hallucinations, which give you instructions to do something. These can be the most frightening hallucinations. Sometimes the command will be to hurt yourself or someone else. It can be scary whether you listen or not. No one wants to experience one of these hallucinations; it almost always turns out badly.
I had voices telling me to burn myself because it was an African tradition. I listened and fell into self-harm. I wouldn't listen to my family's concerns; therapy and medication were my saving graces. If you or a loved one is living with schizophrenia, remember to speak out about the hallucinations and calmly address reality versus unreality.
Vickens, R. (2022, March 10). Inside Hallucinations with Schizophrenia, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 10 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2022/3/inside-hallucinations-with-schizophrenia