Delusions and hallucinations are part of our daily lives. Many religions offer the delusion that a second coming of Christ, or apocalypse is eminent and it is usually not contradicted within the follower's belief system. Non-Christian religions have a similar answer to the Omega in that a prophet will be chosen to lead the way to the afterlife and this delusion holds true in beliefs whether it's prooven or disprooven. So it seems delusion is a way of life or a means to explain the end for many. This is known as a subset of delusions namely nihilistic delusion, meaning delusion about the end and also religious, grandiose delusions (APA, 2000). This discussion in religion and spirituality delusions may comfort any clients who may be facing a diagnosis of schizophrenia with delusions by relating how billions came into their beliefs or it may also open the door to existential therapy in those that are well and have come to recognize thinking or beliefs that by all objective means is known as deluded. Tread delicately on the distinction that their delusion may not be reinforced by the masses.
Hallucinations is something completely different from delusions in that sensory experiences are seemingly self-contained within an individual and experientially, it's a party of one, unlike delusions, which many can believe and experience. Good communication coupled with a vivid imagination is the only way someone can share one person's hallucination and even then it's second-hand account. Even in partaking in illegal substances, one's hallucination will be different from another's even if they took the same drug, at the same time, under the same circumstances. Each person's chemisty launches his or her trip. Questions pertaining to drug usage or abuse are essential in persons presenting in therapy with claims of delusions and hallucinations. Other clients presenting for help that may claim experience with hallucinations are those that are ill and carrying a fever, those that have not had adequate sleep, those in detox, and those with extreme imaginations or appear to be manic or coming off of mania. Given these, the most important thing to seek in client's reporting is the change in behavior and personality. That change is where the most truth resides for proper diagnosis.
This author is of the experience that certain guided imagery exercises during hypnosis can result in hallucinations and can be present in totally healthy clients, though within the safety of a psychologist and somewhat guided in a process of suggestion and perception. While under hypnosis images appear very real at the slightest suggestion and as the relaxation and guided imagery envelopes the client, it is controled by the therapist and one does reside in a different reality making suggestion all the more probable to whatever goal one's hypnosis aims to achieve. When “going under” is difficult, this author recalls hallucinations of colors and entities from her past blocking the hypnosis and they were skillfully called away by the hypnotist to get back to effective imagery while “going under”. Another difference being sometimes the client remembers the happenings of hypnotic hallucinations while others are suggested to forget their hallucinations inspired in hypnosis.
Though hallucinations are tandem with the stigma of schizophrenia and psychosis, this writer urges one to consider the totality of how delusions and hallucinations can present themselves and be within normal ranges of functionality. Indeed, many persons with schizophrenia can live productive lives though their internal life is of a greater experience than others. Still to be uncovered are issues around dopamine level differences (Seeman et al. 2005), whether persons with schizophrenia with high emotional intelligence can adapt their inner-world to the finesse needed in social situations (Green, 1999) and the genetic heritage of persons with schizophrenia.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Butcher, J. N., Mineka, S. & Hooley, J. L. (2010). Abnormal Psychology (14th ed.). Boston, MA:
Green, M. (1999). Should schizophrenia be treated as a neurocognitive disorder. National Institute of Mental Health, Oxford University Press, U.K.
Seeman, P., Weinshenker, D., Quirion, R., Srivastava, K., Bhardwaj, K., Grandy, K., Premont, T., Sotnikova, D., (2005). Dopamine supersensitivity correlates with D2High states, implying many paths to psychosis Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America