Pseudohallucinations – OK to see things?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Pseudohallucinations – sometimes we expect people to “see things.”

Sometimes it’s okay to see things that are not really there. When someone is under

the influence of drugs, particularly hallucinogens or powerful stimulants, it is common for them to see things that others don’t.

When crack cocaine first became common, the emergency rooms in large cities experienced a rash of people who were “seeing things.” Many of these people received a diagnosis of schizophrenia or a related psychosis.

The same phenomenon occurred again when methamphetamine became cheap and readily available. More recently we are seeing people under the influence of “bath salts,” who are hallucinating.

None of these drug-induced hallucinations should be used as symptoms for making the diagnosis of schizophrenia or related psychosis.

True hallucinations can be a feature of several mental illnesses. In addition to schizophrenia, people with severe major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses may experience hallucinations. Sometimes people with severe mental illness also use drugs which can create Pseudohallucinations. Sorting out the meaning of hallucinations is a job for a professional.

Some authorities differentiate between Hallucinations, Pseudohallucinations, and Parahallucinations.

If someone is experiencing hallucinations and they know it is the result of “good drugs,” this is a Pseudohallucination and likely will be diagnosed as a drug intoxication disorder, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder F16.983 or stimulant-induced psychotic disorder if the hallucinations continue after withdrawal from a stimulant.

Alcohol can also cause hallucinations.

When chronic alcoholics are withdrawing from alcohol that can experience a condition called delirium tremens or the DT’s for short. DT’s consists of shakes and hallucinations when the level of alcohol in the bloodstream declines. This is a very serious condition and can lead to death. If someone has ever had the shakes or hallucinated while withdrawing from alcohol they should be sent to a hospital to detox. Friends don’t let friends die from DT, s.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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