Hallucinations are a very real and often frightening symptoms of several disorders. Because of the societal stigma attached to hallucinations, a child or adult experiencing them may choose to keep them a secret, rather than seek help. Through neurofeedback and counseling, Brain Changers seeks to assist struggling individuals and families to understand and address them and the underlying disorders.
What Are Hallucinations?
A hallucination is a perception that occurs in the absence of an external stimulus. It can occur in any of the five senses; in other words, a hallucination is seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling something that isn’t really there. Some people are aware they are not actually real; other people experiencing a hallucination may think it IS actually real, and they may also have delusional interpretations of these.
Hallucinations are different from illusions, or delusional perceptions; in these cases, an actual stimulus exists, but the person perceiving it interprets it incorrectly.
What Causes Hallucinations?
Typically hallucinations are a symptom of an underlying medical, neurological, or mental disorder. They almost always appear in schizophrenia, but they can also be a symptom associated with psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, or dementia. Hallucinations are also commonly associated with substance abuse; use of recreational drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, PCP, and marijuana are known to induce hallucinations. Withdrawal from alcohol, or from drugs such as heroin, hypnotics, or sedatives, can also result in hallucinations. Some people experiencing migraines, particularly those recovering from a comatose state, experience them. Charles Bonnet syndrome is the name given to blind individuals who “see” flashes of light or images. Diseases such as Parkinson’s can cause first illusions, where the sufferer distorts images and sounds in the mind, and it can then proceed into hallucinations.
Are There Different Kinds of Hallucinations?
Hallucinations are very disturbing for those experiencing them. These people have a brain function problem that is causing them to suffer from a mental disorder with other difficult symptoms. When hallucinations are an additional symptom, they may respond with rage. The rage is a symptom of the anxiety produced by the frustration over constantly experiencing one or more types of hallucinations.
There are many kinds of hallucinations. The variety most commonly thought of is visual, or seeing something that is not there. These can take the form of seeing people or human-like figures or seeing colors or bursts of light.
Auditory hallucinations may also be familiar — hearing voices, hearing music, or hearing noises, where none really exist. They can seem to come from inside one’s head or from outside sources. In mental disorders such as schizophrenia, these voices may take a number of different forms. Sometimes, the voice or voices carry on conversations with the person throughout the day and have their own opinions. Commonly, the person experiencing auditory hallucinations will hear someone call their name when they are alone. These hallucinated voices may talk to each other, carrying on general conversation or talking about the person hallucinating. These voices may tell the person to do something — this is known as a command hallucination.
Gustatory and olfactory hallucinations are false perceptions of taste and smell, respectively. Usually these smells or tastes are quite unpleasant.
A somatic or tactile hallucination is feeling a sensation that doesn’t exist. Some people describe it as the “creepy crawlies,” or a sensation of something crawling along or under the skin.
There are also “mood-congruent” hallucinations, as in the manic-depressive person who may hear voices while in a depressed state, speaking on themes such as self-inadequacy or guilt, or in a manic state, inflating the sense of self-worth or power.
How can Brain Changers Help?
Few treatments exist specifically to treat hallucinations. However, since they are typically a symptom of an underlying condition, those conditions can be treated. Brain Changers offers Holistic Medicine interventions such as Neurofeedback for the treatment of disorders such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and brain changes caused by Drug Abuse. Neurofeedback re-trains poorly performing brainwaves, in a method that is painless and requires no medication, to help brainwaves perform more normally again. Additionally, Counseling sessions help the client understand that the hallucinations are a very real symptom of an underlying disorder, and we address them in this way. Sometimes, with treatment, the hallucinations completely stop; sometimes, they may decrease in frequency and intensity, but the client learns more effective ways of dealing with this very real symptom in ways that help him or her to lead a successful life.