Kinesthetic hallucinations: what is this symptom, its causes and treatment

If we close our eyes and focus on that, we may be able to feel our heartbeat, when air enters our lungs, or when our kidneys or liver hurt. This is all due to the fact that we are able to perceive sensations inherent inside our body, which helps us adapt to situations and survive.

But these situations have a reason: our heart beats, we breathe, we are full, or we have a urinary tract infection. However, sometimes some people can have such perceptions, coming from inside the body, without anything really causing them. These are kinesthetic hallucinations.

    What is a hallucination?

    As a preamble and in order to better understand the concept of kinesthetic hallucination, it is useful in the first place to review what hallucination is and what supposes.

    The concept of hallucination refers to the existence of a false perception or perception without an objectThat is, the capture by the senses of a person of information or stimulation that does not come from any real and existing source. It is a type of perceptual deception in which something is perceived that does not exist and is a product of the subject’s mind.

    However, it should be noted that this is a perception: the subject actually sees, hears or notices a kind of sensation even if it does not prevent any stimulation that generates it.

    This is one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, Although it can appear in a large number of situations which does not always have to be the product of psychopathology (for example, poisoning or intoxication can lead to hallucinations or even a prolonged experience of stress).

    There are many types and classifications of hallucinations, among which we can find visual, auditory, olfactory or gustatory hallucinations, tactile, kinesthetic (perception of movement) or those that give the name to this article: kinesthetic hallucinations.

    Kinesthetic hallucinations

    Cenesthetic hallucinations (also called somatic or visceral hallucinations) are those in which the subject has a perception without a target object the existence of sensations inside your own body, Which refers specifically to such things as the viscera, specific organs or parts of the body, whether these parts are sensitive or not (eg blood).

    It is a type of hallucination in which the perception is carried out at the somatic level or body consciousness: in the internal perception of the body itself. The subject has the perception of a kind of deterioration inside his body, which can be limited to specific parts or organs of this one or to the body in general. It is common for this type of hallucination to be associated with different types of delusions that explain it, which are usually great extravagance and strangeness.

    An example of this is those people with infestation delusions, which often refer to the feeling that ants, insects or other small beings have infested the subject and are moving inside the body and even everything can exist the idea that they are devouring their organs.

    Perceived sensations can be very variable and include among others the perception of mechanical pressure, displacement, vacuum, damage, itching or temperature changes. There may also be a sensation of changes in the composition of parts of the body (for example, perceiving that one of your lungs has dissolved), sensations related to organ movements (such as perceiving that the brain has descended to the position of the stomach) or variation of its number (as could happen in the case of having the feeling of having lost a leg without having done so).

    Other possible sensations could be the perception of the presence of external elements inserted (for example the perception of the insertion of a microchip would enter into this type of hallucination) or the extraction / loss of parts of the body (for feel that the heart has gone out of the body).

      Linked to other types of hallucinations

      As based on this description, it is possible to imagine, kinesthetic hallucinations they are deeply linked to others such as tactile or haptic or those relating to the perception of movement or kinaesthesia.

      In fact, it is often possible to find that the two types of hallucinations occur together. Some authors even indicate that cenesthesia hallucinations in fact include tactile, kinesthetic and visceral hallucinations as subtypes, although cenesthesia is generally identified with visceral.

      The main difference between these types is that in the case of the kinesthetic types we are talking about perceptions concerning the own body and generally in its interior, without the idea of ​​an external contact or without the displacement occurring from the outside. Yet they often occur in association or together.

      Appearance contexts

      Kinesthetic hallucinations are less common than others, such as auditory or visual hallucinations, although they can occur in many settings and conditions.

      At the psychiatric level, one of the best known is schizophrenia, along with other disorders of the psychotic spectrum such as chronic delusional disorder.

      For example, in Ekbom syndrome or delirium of parasitosis, In which the subject is believed to be infested with living things, or in Cotard’s syndrome (delusional disorder in which there is a belief that he is dead or that the organs are rotting, which may be based on the interpretation of ‘somatic hallucinations). However, it should be borne in mind that these syndromes are based on the existence of delirium, without the need for hallucinations.

      They can also occur as part of certain depressions, And its possible occurrence in some cases in manic-type episodes (such as in bipolar disorder).

      Another context of occurrence can be medical type alterations. Among them, it is possible, for example, that kinesthetic hallucinations appear in situations such as poisoning by substances such as cocaine or in certain cases of epilepsy, although this is less frequent.

        the causes

        Beyond the context in which they appear, the causes of kinesthetic hallucinations are unclear, although as with other hallucinations. the limbic and diencephalon systems appear to be involved.

        Involvement of the somatosensory cortex was also observed, as well as the part of the cortex corresponding to the insula. Some theories state that there is a fundamental difficulty in integrating sensory information, which can cause our nervous system to generate perceptions without a physical element triggering them.

        Also, other theories (which do not exclude the above) indicate that the problem may be difficulty separating mental content from physical experience, So that it is not possible to separate the imagined from the perceived.


        Kinesthetic hallucinations are not a disorder in themselves, but they are a symptom of the existence of some kind of alteration. In this sense, the treatment of these hallucinations will require an evaluation of the patient’s situation and an appreciation of the origin or of the disorder of which they are a symptom. This will require the multidisciplinary work of various professionals from different fields of health.

        Depending on the case, it is possible to use different therapeutic strategies. Pharmacologically, the use of antipsychotics can help curb this type of perception, as well as some antidepressants.

        At the psychological level, coping with these perceptions may require helping the subject re-affect their perceptions so that he comes to see them as a product of his own mind, with techniques such as cognitive restructuring and proposing behavioral experiments in which they can check if their perceptions are real or not.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Belloch, A., Bains, R. and Perpiñá, C. (2008) Psychopathology of perception and imagination. In A. Belloch, B. Sandín and F. Ramos (Eds.) Handbook of Psychopathology (2nd edition). Vol I, Madrid: McGraw Hill Inter-American.
        • Creuat, L., Córdova, R. and Vizcarra, O. (2012). Visceral and cenestopathic hallucinations in the differential diagnosis of medically unexplained symptoms. Heredian medical journal. 23 (3). Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia. Alberto Hurtado Faculty of Medicine. Peru.
        • Fernández-Díaz, A., Bobadilla-Pérez, E., Bell-Porto, J., Méndez-Esglésies, R. and Menéndez-Sánchez, B. (2013). Psychotic clinic or crises? Diagnostic considerations in clinical practice. Journal of the Galician Association of Psychology, 12. A Coruña, Spain.
        • Seva, A. (1979). Psychopathology of perception. In: Clinical psychiatry. Ed. Spaxs. Barcelona, ​​pp. 173-180.
        • Slade, PD. And Bentall, RP (1988). Sensory deception: scientific analysis of hallucination. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.

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