Sunday, June 27, 2010
Hallucinations, sensory experiences that occur without external stimuli. Hallucinations might be present in several mental and neurological disorders. Most common are auditory hallucinations-hearing voices or sounds that no one else hears. A visual hallucination is seeing someone or something that isn't there. Other hallucinations relate to touch (tactile), taste (gustatory), and smell (olfactory), but these are less common.
Hallucinations are usually unpleasant for the patient. Although he/she may not mention them, he/she may huddle under the covers, appear to be listening to someone, or talk to someone who isn't there. Confront such behavior: "Mr. Jones, you appear to be talking to somebody, but I don't see anyone."
The patient's reply might surprise you. Mr. Jones may tell you he's listening to the devil. Remain non-judgmental, empathize, and point out what's real: "I don't see anyone in the room, but this must be very frightening for you." Listen quietly to his response and try to make a connection. "You talk about devils, death, and hell. It sounds as though you're afraid of what might happen in the afterlife." He may be grateful that you're trying to understand.
A terrifying hallucination that can endanger you, your patient, and others is a command hallucination, which is usually auditory. If the patient reports, for example, that God is telling him to jump out the window, don't leave him. Summon help; he may need confinement for protection.
Dr Smita Pandey Bhat
Gurgaon, Delhi - NCR, INDIA
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