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5 Things You Need to Know if You Hallucinate

5 Things You Need to Know if You Hallucinate

Many people hear the word hallucinate and think of people in movies who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol who see crazy things such as flying elephants with polka dots or kitchen appliances that come to life. The reality of having a hallucination can be quite different from that in most cases. In fact, hallucinating doesn’t always mean seeing things that aren’t there; there are more pieces to this puzzle. Hallucinations can take other forms, and they can happen more often than one might think.

Whether you think you hallucinate or you know someone that has told you they hallucinate, there is much to know about the subject, and we have broken it all down for you here.


What Does It Mean to Hallucinate?

woman experiencing hallucinations
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Though many associate hallucinations with seeing things that aren’t there, the truth is that hallucinating can challenge all the other senses too such as hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling things that aren’t present.

Hearing Voices

covering ears because she hears voices
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Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

This may also be referred to as “auditory hallucination,” where one may think sounds are either coming from inside or outside of their mind. A common example of auditory hallucination is when someone hears a voice, or multiple voices, that encourage them to carry out some action. One might also hear multiple voices having a discussion.

Seeing Things

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This may also be referred to as a “visual hallucination.” A common example of seeing things is when someone believes there are bugs crawling on their body parts when nothing is crawling on their body.

Smelling Things

man smelling something unexplainable
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Image by 401711 from Pixabay 

This may also be referred to as “olfactory hallucination,” where one believes they smell something that others can’t smell. Some common examples would be if someone believed a strange odor was coming from their own body, someone else’s body, or some object when there is nothing detectable by the nose in reality.

Tasting Things

sense of taste
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This may also be referred to as “gustatory hallucinations.” A common example is when someone believes a food or beverage has an odd taste to it when in reality it tastes as it should.

Feeling Things

feeling something unexplainable
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This may also be referred to as “tactile hallucination.” One might feel as though they are being hit or kicked when they are not, or they might feel like they are being tickled when no one is tickling them. Another common tactile hallucination is when one feels like there are insects crawling all over their body; when in reality, nothing is on their skin.


Possible Causes of Hallucinations

Hallucination can occur for a variety of reasons, with some being more common than others. 


Parkinson’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia


Brain Tumor

Charles Bonnet Syndrome



Alcohol and Illegal Drugs


Treatment Options for Hallucinations

Because hallucinations can occur for different reasons, different treatment options are available.

Finding the Cause

Medications and Therapies


5 Things You Need to Know If You Hallucinate

1. Phantom Phone Vibrations

Have you ever felt your phone buzz but upon looking at your phone, you realize there was no reason for it to vibrate? Phantom phone vibrations are so common that a study performed at the Georgia Institute found that around 90% of people experience them.

2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

If one has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD, they can be clear of all other mental illnesses and still have hallucinations. This type of hallucination can be referred to as a flashbulb memory where certain things may uncontrollably trigger a memory; this makes it difficult to get back to reality. The experience can feel particularly real when a flashbulb memory occurs during a dream.

3. Exhaustion

Someone who is perfectly healthy and not under the influence of any type of drug can hallucinate simply from being too tired. Your brain, just like the rest of your body, needs rest. When someone deprives themselves of that much-needed rest, the brain gets tired. They can experience a surreal, dream-like state, or they may see things that aren’t really there due to an altered perception of the brain.

4. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, or AWS for short, is a neurological disorder where the brain distorts all the shapes and sizes around a person. It also has a significant effect regarding depth perception. It’s called Alice in Wonderland Syndrome because it is like Alice’s perception of things in the infamous movie after Alice goes down the rabbit hole.

The kinds of things people with AWS might experience are thinking their foot is very large while their hand is very tiny, or vice versa. It may also make them feel as if a close wall is very far away or that a nail in the wall is larger than their own body. An interesting fact that has scientists baffled is how some people appear to grow out of this syndrome only to have it reappear later in life. It also confuses them how and why it happens altogether.

5. Positive View of Hallucinations

While some may see hallucinations as a bad thing, some cultures actually find hallucinations to be a good thing. A group of people with schizophrenia were sought out and interviewed to understand their take on hallucinations. Those from the United States tended to have negative or frightening hallucinations such as of demons and death, however, people from India and Ghana had hallucinations about deceased friends and family with positive messages.


Having an hallucination isn’t always a bad thing, and it’s much more common than people typically think. While there are some serious health concerns that could cause one to hallucinate, it doesn’t always mean it's something to panic about. If it is a serious condition, there are many treatment options that are easily accessible to help correct the problem. Some may even embrace the condition and hope to see positive things like deceased loved ones. Whichever way your path may lead, there is help available to make daily living as easy as possible.

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