Sunday, November 04, 2012

Phew, I'm normal!

 
 
There are certain things I've never talked about for fear of, you know, the fellahs in the white uniforms thundering into the house, a strait jacket at the ready. Well, with the exception of a trusted very, very few who've admitted the same kind of thing to me and we've nodded sagely, grimaced, grinned sheepishly and vowed never to talk about it again.

Until now.

And of course it's no longer private because it's here in black and white.

I'm talking hallucinations.

I was remembering my frequent childhood one. I'd be lying on my stomach in bed and I would be on a tobaggan. A magical one.  It would slide down a mountainside and then sail off over the ocean, over boats, lighthouses, birds, icebergs, desert islands. All in living colour. It was utterly marvellous.

And an adult one. Of driving on the 401 in Toronto and suddenly being overshadowed by an enormous silver disk in the sky, its humming hurting my ears, its menace terrifying me. I don't know how long this lasted. I felt suspended in another universe and the feeling of knowing everything there was to know about every single galaxy. When I came back to reality - as I say I don't know how long I was "out" - I felt weird for several days, as if my body had lost the run of itself and my mind was fragmented.  No alcohol or drugs involved.

Dr. Oliver Sacks , he of "Awakenings" et al, has now normalized all of this in an article published yesterday in the New York Times. See excerpt:

In other cultures, hallucinations have been regarded as gifts from the gods or the Muses, but in modern times they seem to carry an ominous significance in the public (and also the medical) mind, as portents of severe mental or neurological disorders. Having hallucinations is a fearful secret for many people — millions of people — never to be mentioned, hardly to be acknowledged to oneself, and yet far from uncommon. The vast majority are benign — and, indeed, in many circumstances, perfectly normal. Most of us have experienced them from time to time, during a fever or with the sensory monotony of a desert or empty road, or sometimes, seemingly, out of the blue.


Read the rest of the article here.

I am so relieved to know I'm not certifiable after all.



23 comments:

  1. When I am assessing for psychosis, I don't even write things like that down. (Hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations, especially, are so common as to be boring.) In my opinion, imaginative people tend to go off into those mildly altered states more often. I think of them as waking dreams and welcome them.

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  2. I would echo the preceding. Such phenomena are analogous to dreams, in which we process events, occurrences, or ideas, while asleep.

    The difference is that in a state of hallucination, we are technically awake.

    I reckon that more people experience them than not; think "religious experience."

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  3. SAW:

    Yes waking dreams, some far more vivid than others, and more strange.

    Good to know from one far more expert than me as to their "normality".

    XO
    WWW

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  4. Marc:
    And I imagine, like me, they are afraid to talk about them.

    Not anymore!

    XO
    WWW

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  5. Other than the pre- or post-sleep woozy kind, I don't recall experiencing anything like this, not during daytime, fully awake and firing on all cylinders (as if I ever do fire on all cylinders these days!)

    I suspect those of a creative nature will be most likely to have such experiences. Husband is more that way inclined than I am - I shall ask him about it.
    :-)


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  6. T:
    Please do, maybe he can join this peculiar club!!

    And who can fire on all cylinders when we see what's happening in the states?

    XO
    WWW

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  7. The closest I come to hallucinations is when I catch a movement from the corner of my eye .
    It is usually human or animal in shape and is actually caused by floaters.

    I went to my doctor and explained to him all my problems.After listening to me he said my diagnosis is that you are crazy. I said geez I want to get a second opinion. He said okay you are ugly also. :(

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  8. I seriously hope the hallucination while driving didn’t last long enough to cause mishap.

    Otherwise: hallucinations? So what else is new?
    How about hearing voices, recognisable voices, of dead people, while you are fully awake? They usually say very sensible things too.

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  9. I do get something like this before I fall asleep and always thought it was a very odd thing to happen but now I won't fear it anymore. It's good to know what falls within the realm of normality and to know that this is all okay. I make odd little jumps during the day too and find connections between seemingly unrelated things. It's like looking God in the eye. I will now be more relaxed about them. Thanks WWW.

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  10. Friko:
    No mishap, no idea how long it lasted. Weird for days after.
    Yes, I too hear my grandmother's and my mother's voices. Always always with good things to say and excellent advice!
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Irene:
    Isn't the brain an amazing organ and to think we only use about 10% of its power!!

    "Looking god in the eye", or as I like to think - eternity.

    We are such wee tiny things...
    XO
    WWW

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  12. When I read that article my reaction was exactly the same as yours WWW. I have had the suspicion that I may be normal and now that an American has certified me to be one, I can live happily ever after with my hallucinations!

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  13. I don't think it was a hallucination since you had those after effects for several days. I think probably you had an actual experience with aliens from outer space! :-) Have you considered or investigated???

    I've never thought of what I experienced exactly as hallucinations -- some I knew were dreams when asleep, other during a strange twilight time when I thought I must be between sleep and wakefulness. I don't know -- maybe they're something different.

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  14. Out of the hallucination closet then with all of us! As a child I thought everyone else was strange because they didn't share my "awake dreams." As an adult I simply stopped talking about them. Now I think we all ought to sit down with a nice cup of tea and share stories! (I had a bright light experience similar to your driving one. I wasn't the only one who saw it or was affected but we all kept speculation among ourselves.)

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  15. Ramana:
    You put that much store in the opinions of Americans? :)
    XO
    WWW

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  16. Joared:
    Yes, I've thought about that. I'm of the belief that "Aliens" are invisibly around us all the time. Too many incidences that I've shared with others could verify this.
    Sometimes they choose to amuse themselves and our poor little brains.
    No, I wasn't referring to the sleep wake thing, I've had many of those!
    XO
    WWW

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  17. Pauline:
    Marvellous idea, the deja vue thing could be discussed also. And cellular memory.
    I could go on :)
    XO
    WWW

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  18. Asked Himself: he sais no, he hasn't experienced hallucinations. Nearest thing he can think of is experiencing involuntary visions of paintings he might do at some point. But he thinks this is likely to be simply an accumulation of bits and pieces stored somewhere in the grey matter. :-) Which, I guess, WWW is what hallucinations proper are too. The more we store up in there, the more they are likely to tip over and find an exit. :-)

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  19. Oh you wax poetic, you do, T! Love your turn of phrase on that last bit.

    And yes, Himself would be on the hallucinatory side, I had that experience with a friend (my producer) yesterday when she encouraged me to continue with a play I had started back in the day and all the bits fell out of my head in a flood.

    XO
    WWW

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  20. Phew! I am not so cracked either. In my case the lines are only on the shell (my face)!

    Keep busy with those whirling thoughts and soon you will have another play, book or set of poems.

    PS. You can have some time off to knit and think!

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  21. WWW, Americans seem to be the only ones with the time and inclination to study such esoteric stuff!

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  22. You're definitely NOT normal, WWW. You're way better than 'normal'. I would say 'slightly mad, with just a hint of gross eccentricity'. WONDERFUL!

    Rammuser: Americans? Esoteric? I guess you have to live here longer than ten years to realize that one!

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