The differences between hallucination, pseudoallucination and hallucinosis

Consciousness is a strange psychological phenomenon. On the one hand, it always appears in the hand of the perception of what surrounds us: when we are aware, we are always aware that beyond our body there is something: shapes, colors, sounds, textures or just gravity.

However, these perceptions do not have to be true and, in fact, they hardly ever are, to a greater or lesser extent. Fortunately, only in some cases does this degree of reality distortion become so intense that it is a sign of mental pathology.

Below we will see what they are the differences between hallucination, hallucinosis and pseudoallucination, Three types of breaks with reality which can be confused by their superficial resemblance.

    Differences between hallucination, hallucinosis and pseudoallucination

    To understand how these three types of symptoms are to be distinguished, we’ll first go over what exactly each one is.

    What are hallucinations?

    A hallucination is a perception that was not caused by a real element and that it is attributed to the environment external to oneself. For example, someone who hears hallucinating voices is unable to distinguish between these and other noises coming from the environment, is simply unable to locate who is making them.

    At the same time, hallucinations are also characterized by anosognosia, ignoring that what is being experienced is a symptom of a mental disorder or illness.

    On the other hand, although most hallucinations are auditory, they can occur in any sensory modality: visual, tactile, etc.


      In the case of pseudo-hallucinations, these perceptions are also fundamentally imaginary and do not come from a real element. However, in this case, the person experiencing them is able to distinguish between perceptions coming from the external environment and pseudo-hallucinations, which he attributes to a source in “his mind”.

      If the patient who suffers from hallucinations claims to hear voices of the same nature as that of the doctor who questions him, the patient presents with pseudo-hallucinations responds in the affirmative and without hesitation to the question: “Do you hear voices coming from?” from you ? “.

      On the other hand, in pseudo-hallucination, although the person recognizes that the voices, images or tactile experiences are not produced by external phenomena and therefore objective (detectable by any close person), considers that what is happening does not indicate the presence of any mental disorder. This often means that help is not requested.

      What is hallucinosis?

      Hallucinosis is similar to hallucination and pseudo-hallucination in that in these three cases the experience is not produced directly by something that actually exists and has the appearance that seems to indicate this ” appearance”. However, the hallucination differs from the other two in several ways.

      First, hallucinosis is distinguished from hallucination in which the person he knows that the experience does not come from outside, It is not produced by an objective phenomenon: it is a product which manifests itself only in his consciousness and which cannot be perceived by others.

      Second, hallucinosis is distinguished from pseudoalucination in which there is no anosognosia. There is a real awareness that what is happening is not normal and that it is a symptom serious enough to seek help.

      What kinds of diseases do they cause?

      Hallucinations and pseudo-hallucinations are generally more related to psychiatric disorders, while hallucinosis occurs in neurological disorders.

      This is so because in the first two, the degree of involvement of the nervous system is so general that it affects all consciousness and all abstract thought globally. The fact that a person does not see from the first moment a warning sign to see, for example, a 10-meter dragon floating in the air, is in itself a symptom of pathology. The same is true when you don’t raise any suspicion of sanity if for days a voice is heard and you can never locate who is emitting it.

      Hallucinosis, on the other hand, the degree of disease involvement is not so general as in hallucination and pseudoalucination, and focuses on specific areas of the brain, leaving a margin over others. This makes hallucinosis relatively more frequent, especially in pathologies resulting from the use of psychoactive substances, for example.

        Is it fair to use these concepts in mental health?

        There are criticisms of the use of the term “pseudoalucination”Since it has connotations that can lead to the stigma of patients suffering from this condition.

        The name suggests that the person is making up the events they are describing and that he says he has lived, which as we have seen does not correspond to reality: although there is no stimulus as the person perceives it, this phenomenon is not a voluntary invention , which is only used to access some special care system, eg.

        That is why there are reasons to simply use the term “hallucination” for these cases. Although it may seem like a lie, in psychiatry and clinical psychology appearances can matter a lot, especially when they affect the quality of life of patients.

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