There are a number of mental disorders in which more or less frequently a number of symptoms can co-morbidly form some of the psychopathologies of the imagination. It occurs with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and certain sensory impairments.
The psychopathologies of the imagination are a series of “perceptual deceptions” in which a person perceives a series of images in his mind which are not actually physically present, so that these perceptions are not real, but are the product of his imagination; although the person experiences the perception of these images as their own were real.
In the following lines we will take a closer look what are the main psychopathologies of the imagination and what are its characteristics.
What are the psychopathologies of the imagination?
Psychopathologies of the imagination, also called “perceptual deceptions”, are a set of psychopathologies in which a person perceives a series of images which are products worked out in his mind, although he experiences them as if they were real. It is therefore a perceptual interpretation, which has proved to be misleading, of an image experienced cognitively in terms of sensory perception.
The explanation of a phenomenon as particular as that of the psychopathologies of the imagination could be because perception and imagination present the same rules in their process through the functioning of the human mind. In these cases, moreover, the sensory organs in charge of perception and imagination have no alteration to justify this anomaly, so it can be a key characteristic to differentiate the psychopathologies of the imagination from perceptual distortions.
However, it should be noted that sometimes psychopathologies of the imagination could be caused by alteration or dysfunction of the sensory organs for various reasons (for example, by intentional or accidental ingestion of a toxic substance). , for certain brain dysfunctions, among others).
Types of imaginary psychopathologies
In this section, we will subdivide the psychopathologies of the imagination into two broad categories: the first would be that of pseudo-perceptions or abnormal images; and the second, that of hallucinations.
1. Abnormal images or pseudo-perceptions
This sub-category of psychopathologies of the imagination will include a group of abnormal mental images that may be mistaken for real perceptions, because its processing in the brain is quite similar to that of an authentic perception.
These images present one of the two particularities mentioned below:
- The first is when they occur in the absence of stimuli that can activate or trigger them.
- The other is when they are activated or maintained without the stimulus that produced that image being present.
1.1. Hallucinogenic images
Such images are produced in the mind of the subject in the absence of any concrete and real stimulus that can activate them, so that they are autonomous and subjective, although they have characteristics similar to those of a real image of the exterior which is perceived by the subject, so it is difficult to tell them apart.
These images they usually occur in cases where the person is suffering from some kind of central nervous system disease, they are usually very simple images with no emotional significance (eg lights, flashes, etc.) or they can also occur in an auditory mode (eg simple noises, isolated sounds, etc.). ). In these cases, the person is aware that they are the product of their imagination.
1.2. Hinopompic and hypnagogic images
Hypnopompic and hypnagogic imagery is one of the extraordinarily common psychopathologies of the imagination among the general non-clinical population, as it is estimated that around 70% of the population has experienced them, so they usually do not. part. disorder that requires treatment.
These anomalies were qualified in the first texts on the subject of “physiological hallucinations”, because they occur around sleep, that is to say between sleep and wakefulness or vice versa, being moments where people are in a state of semi-consciousness. .
A hypnopomic image consists of those images that the subject perceives in a short time between a state of sleep and awakening., being a kind of pseudo-perception, since the images that the subject perceives are not really in front of him. People who experience hypnopomic imagery often think they have had a dream that they experienced while sleeping.
On another side, a hypnagogic image is one of those images seen when a person is asleep, in a short period of circulation, which changes from wakefulness to sleep.
1.3. Post-images or consecutive images
This type of psychopathology of the imagination is reflected in the images that are usually produced as a result of excessive sensory stimulation just before they are felt by the subject.
Its big difference from eidetism is that the representation of these consecutive images or post-images could not be evoked after a certain time, whereas eidetism could be. On the other hand, it is also common for these images to have properties opposite to those of the original image.
1.4. Eidetic and memory images
In this case, we are talking about images of memories from our past which are presented to our mind in a transformed way., may have produced according to personal desires, being subjective in nature and, moreover, the subject experiences it with very low sharpness and liveliness.
Eidetic images are a series of very particular amnesic images and can be viewed as a type of sensory memory, made up of identical mental representations, or almost any sensory impression that has remained frozen in the subject’s mind. Likewise, the subject can evoke them voluntarily or they can even enter involuntarily into his mind.
1.5. Parasitic images
Its main difference from memory images is that the parasites are involuntary and autonomous.; while the consecutive images or post-images are differentiated because the parasites are subjective, the person being aware that they were the product of his mind.
However, they are similar to the others in which they also took place following a stimulus what the subject has perceived but which is no longer present in the image, this characteristic being in turn a distinction from illusions.
Now let’s move on to the other large subgroup that we have classified under Psychopathologies of the Imagination, Hallucinations, the most characteristic disorders within this group of psychopathologies.
However, although they have important diagnostic value, hallucinations do not always occur as part of a mental disorder and can sometimes appear in people who are mentally healthy, but who are under particular stimulus conditions.
When a person experiences some kind of hallucination, comes to give reality and body to images that your memory remembers without being perceived at that time by the senses, so that the hallucinations, indeed, are the fruit of his spirit.
A hallucination is a type of cognitive or mental representation that has characteristics similar to those of a perceived or imagined image, occurring if there is a stimulus that triggered it or can cause perception and, nevertheless, they have the same impact on a cognitive level as if they were perceived in a real way. On another side, a hallucination cannot be controlled on purpose by the person experiencing it, it is therefore considered intrusive.
Characteristics of hallucinations
By To better understand what is one of the most relevant psychopathologies of the imagination, such as hallucinations, we will briefly explain some of its most important characteristics.
The first is that hallucinations concern a group of images with a high degree of intensity, thus the person considers that they have acquired a perceptual character, believing that he really perceives them on the outside, although in reality they are only created in his imagination.
A second very important characteristic of hallucinations is that they deal with a sensory and non-perceptual phenomenon, as the subject who experiences them might come to believe.
The third characteristic that must be emphasized about hallucinations is that they have objective qualities, i.e. they have a corporeality, and they also have a specialty, they therefore appear in the space in front of the subject. According to Jaspers, hallucinations, in this sense, would be new perceptions, which could not arise from real perceptions and which would present themselves simultaneously with the real perceptions which are in front of the subject.
On the other hand, these proposed characteristics have not been exempt from criticism from those who argue that when a patient hallucinates, he is able to easily distinguish between his hallucinatory experiences and his imagination. Another reviewer argues that this is a way of conceptualizing incomplete and inaccurate hallucinations that can be contradictory.
There is a very relevant consideration regarding hallucinations on Reed’s part, among others. This researcher considers that the fundamental characteristic of hallucinations is that the hallucinated individual maintains a conviction of the reality of the experience, so that the subject thinks that these hallucinations are real perceptions.
Classification of hallucinations
There are three main ways to categorize hallucinations.
According to its complexity, is the first of the methods of classifying hallucinations, which can divide them into elementary or complex hallucinations.
Another way to classify hallucinations is according to its content, can be in the following ways:
- Religious and / or cultural content.
- Desires, fears, memories, experiences, etc.
- As to the content of any delirium or other psychopathology.
- In relation to very stressful or shocking particular life situations.
The third classification of hallucinations would be according to the sensory modality, which can then be visual, auditory, tactile, taste, olfactory, kinesthetic, etc.
On the other hand, it is worth mentioning a number of phenomenological variations of hallucinatory experiences, namely: reflective hallucinations, functional characteristics, negative characteristics, autoscopies and extracampinal hallucinations.