Psychopathologies of perception: types, characteristics and symptoms

Human perception is not necessarily about processing a copy of reality in our brain, but it is a more complex phenomenon. When information passes through our senses, reaching our brain, it passes through a series of filters and, as a whole, a constructive process is composed, and in some cases a series of perceptual abnormalities can occur.

Psychopathologies of perception are those which occur when a person perceives in a different way a stimulus or a group of stimuli which is within the reach of his sensory organs, so that there is a distortion in the way he perceives its formal characteristics.

A fundamental difference between the psychopathologies of perception and those of the imagination is that in the former the perceived stimulus is present in front of the subject, although it is perceived in a distorted way compared to reality; while in the latter, it is perceptual deceptions which provoke a new sensory experience, for they are false perceptions.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what these perceptual psychopathologies are and how they are generally classified.

    What are the psychopathologies of perception?

    The different psychopathologies of perception are a series of perceptual distortions that occur when a stimulus is perceived differently from the formal characteristics of the same, it is therefore accessible to the sensory organs of the subject who suffers from one of the psychopathologies of perception, and there may be two fundamental possibilities.

    One would be when the subject has a different perception than usual and / or more predictable, having as a reference the previous experiences in this regard, as well as the common way of perceiving this stimulus by other people and also the experiences earlier than his own. person in relation to the perception of said stimulus. The psychopathologies of perception in this case would be those distortions related to shape, size, distance, intensity, among others..

    Another modality would be that which occurs in cases where the person experiences a different perception than that which should take place in the case where he only considered the formal or physical configuration of the stimulus, as happens in the case of illusions. In this case, the psychopathology is not in the perceptual organs strictly speaking, but in the perception that the person himself develops from a specific stimulus; in other words, how to build in your mind the perception of the same stimulus.

      Types of perceptual psychopathologies

      Perceptual psychopathologies or perceptual distortions have been commonly classified into the following categories, and there is considerable consensus on this classification.

      1. According to the intensity of the stimuli

      In this category are those perceptual distortions related to the intensity with which stimuli are perceived, which can be in the following ways:

      • Hyperesthesia (perceived more intensely) versus hypoaesthesia (perceived less intensely).
      • Hyperalgesia (perceiving pain more intensely) versus hypoalgesia (perceiving pain less intensely).
      • Anesthesia: There is a general lack of perception of the intensity of stimuli.
      • Analgesia: There is an absence of pain perception.

      2. According to the quality of the stimulus

      These abnormalities of perception are generally related to the above and generally refer to the colored visions and perceive with varying degrees of clarity, although they can also influence other senses such as touch, smell or taste.

        3. According to shape and / or size (metamorphosis)

        In this case we would find the following subdivisions depending on perceptual distortions regarding the size and / or shape of the stimulus.

        • Dysmegalopsia: is an abnormality in the perception of the size of the stimulus.
        • Dysmorphopia: is an abnormality in the perception of the shape of the stimulus.
        • Autometamorphosis: is a distortion in the perception of the shape or size of one’s body.

        4. According to perceptual integration

        In this classification, there is three classes of perceptual integration anomalies.

        • Synesthesia: Assigning a sensory perception of a stimulus to a sense that does not correspond.

        • Agglutination (individually perceiving different sensations).
        • Cleavage (perceive separately the elements of the same stimulus).

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          Abnormalities in the perception of the intensity of the stimulus

          This group includes a psychopathology of perception which they result from anomalies produced in the intensity in which the stimuli are perceived, which can occur as much by default as by excess. “Hyperesthesias” are generally those which occur when stimuli are perceived with more intensity than usual; while “hypoaesthesia” occurs when stimuli are perceived with less intensity.

          Another possibility within this type of perceptual abnormalities would be when there is a complete absence in the perception of the intensity of the stimuli, being in this case called “anesthesia”.

          We can also find abnormalities in the perception of the intensity of the pain, can be qualified as “hyperalgesia”, when this intensity of the pain is overestimated; “hypoalgesia”, when pain is rarely felt; and finally, “pain relievers”, which occur when the subject feels absolutely no pain.

          Abnormalities in the perception of the intensity of a stimulus, if given in relation to sounds, may be of the following types: “hyperacusis”, that is, when heard at a higher acoustic level. higher than they actually have, hearing loss “, in which the exact opposite occurs to the previous one.

          Abnormalities in the perception of the qualities of the stimulus

          These types of perceptual psychopathologies are a class of abnormalities that are usually accompanied by the previous ones (those of intensity) and refer to those perceptual distortions related to the perception of a stimulus with varying degrees of clarity of the way it is should be perceived, more or less in detail or also in relation to perceptual distortions through other senses such as touch, smell and taste.

          These anomalies of perception They are usually caused by the use of certain drugs and / or the side effects of certain drugs, as well as by certain neurological damage., although they can also appear in certain mental disorders, such as mood disorders or psychotic disorders.

          An example of an abnormality in the qualities of a stimulus in a person with a psychotic disorder would be a case where the subject reports that a sweet food tastes bitter.

          In the case of a depressed person, a perceptual abnormality can occur in relation to the qualities of a stimulus, when he perceives it with very dark, opaque, or even colorless colors. At the same time, if we ask you what colors a photo is made in front of us, she will be able to list them correctly.

          In all of these cases, the sensory organs are functioning properly., so what is altered is the perception of the world of patients with these psychopathologies of perception.

            Anomalies in the perception of form and / or size (Metamorphosis)

            Metamorphosis are perceptual psychopathologies linked to a series of distortions in the perception of the shape and / or size of objects. In this category we can find “megalopsias” (macropsias), which consist of the perception of objects on a scale greater than reality; while in the case of “micropsies” occurs exactly what was opposed.

            Then there are the “autometamorphoses” which occur when the person perceives distorted parts of their own body.

              Anomalies in perceptual integration

              In this group are found the psychopathologies of perception in which the person is not in able to make connections or connections that usually exist between two or more perceptions from different sensory modalities.

              For example, when a person is watching television and he has the feeling that what he sees and what he hears are irrelevant, even though what he hears is what the person watching on television says, it is what one could call a “perceptual cleavage”. Conversely, when there is a “perceptual agglutination”, a phenomenon completely opposite to that of perceptual cleavage occurs.

              In the case of so-called “synesthesia” phenomenon, there may be cases like the person claiming to be able to see different colors depending on the characteristics of frequency and timbre, among other things, a musical song you are listening to.

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