Hallucinations- a new book by Oliver Sack

Saw this morning, a book by neurologist Oliver Sack. Looks interesting. Will watch out for any more reviews and excerpts


Hallucinations can be terrifying, enlightening, amusing or just plain strange. They’re thought to be at the root of fairy tales, religious experiences and some kinds of art. Neurologist Oliver Sacks has been mapping the oddities of the human brain for decades, and his latest book,Hallucinations, is a thoughtful and compassionate look at the phantoms our brains can produce — which he calls “an essential part of the human condition.” In this chapter, Sacks examines auditory hallucinations. “Hearing voices” has long been the classic signifier of mental illness, but many otherwise healthy people just happen to have hallucinatory voices in their heads, according to Sacks.Hallucinations will be published Nov. 6.


It shows chapter 4 on the blog

12 thoughts on “Hallucinations- a new book by Oliver Sack

  1. “Hearing voices has long been the classic signifier of mental illness, but many otherwise healthy people just happen to have hallucinatory voices in their heads”
    Almost all people have their egoic mind’s thought’s constantly going as background noise. They think this mind(or the thinker) is them but the awareness of the thinker is them (not the thoughts that they react to).
    The emotions are the bodies reactions to the thoughts.
    When you take the witness stance and just observe the thoughts(voices) without reaction and emotion you can then silence the egoic mind.


    • True. But sometimes the emotions are leading us to see what it is that is holding us back. Or are showing us the way forward. The voices have been described as emotions that have not been identified. Suppressed, or ignored as not being part of that person. So in some cases, yes step back and observe, but then also identify. What is this feeling? what is it telling me? Why am I feeling it? How can I deal with it. Not all voices are the egoic mind. Some are from deep within, and need to be acknowledged.


      • Being able to be in touch with what you feel is important but the internal monolog is from the thought .
        The conditioned brain replays, doing the same old thinking about thoughts with confusion does not break the cycle. We have an intelligence in pure awareness( as the witness) that by far surpasses the conditioned brains repetitive thought process.
        I am not saying people should try to suppress emotion, I am saying they should try not reacting with fear, anger or repetitive thoughts to the internal monolog/ hearing voices of the egoic mind.
        Many people now can no longer know what they feel they just think.
        Over thinking about the feelings is not preferable to the non reactive/non judgmental acknowledgment and acceptance (as a witness) to the feelings and the knowledge that you are not the ramblings of an inner monolog or an emotive reaction.
        That problems happen when there is identification with the repetitive thoughts/emotions. It is resistance to life, what is now .
        You can only acknowledge the emotions, you cannot “deal” with them, you cannot and should not fight them or not accept them to deal with them all that can be done is seeing them for what they are and why they are there. If these are feelings about the past then one should remember that they do not LIVE in the past- they live in the present.

        The labels used in diagnosis creates a “role” for the person to play”I am mentally ill” or “there is something wrong with me “this thought is then identified with and becomes part of the identity and the role is played.
        I love that hearing voices wants to change these wrong ideas people have about people who admit they hear an inner monolog.


      • I agree that it is excellent to be able to connect with the core of yourself. The part that is the witness. The part that is not affected by emotions and the ramblings of the outer world. To detach and observe. This can help to find your core, your strength, the place from which you can best go about the world and return to if rattled.
        But I think you can deal with your emotions. You can learn about yourself. Agreed not to react with fear. But to feel them, process them, and assess why you feel that way? What does it tell you? The voices are not always egoic monologue. many people have many different experiences. Sometimes they can be emotions that need to be heard. Sometimes they can be insightful and guiding. Some times they can be annoying, hateful and disparaging. Just like people in the world, there are all different types of voices. Some are like best friends. Some are like annoying neighbors. Some are like jail keepers. And yes some do have a monologue that repeats everything they do. Others have dialogues, and others have a group conference happening at all times, with guest speakers.


  2. Oliver Sacks neurologist has heard his own mind’s inner monolog and knows that there is no such thing as “mental illness” , there is unconsciousness and consciousness. New mental illness labels are still being created to market drugs and it keeps people feeling separate from life and unaware of what that “noise” really is.
    People who have described it as being possessed are right as its not them, but they need to try to stop their emotional reaction (feeding). Just Witness the egoic mind without getting upset, frightened or angry . Know its not “you” and the thoughts cannot hurt you stop reacting ( conditioned emotional reactions which provides energy/fuel) and loose interest in them. It takes your effort initially to change the brains wiring but in being present and starting to be just the witness a change in perception can happen( try focusing on the silence in between thoughts)
    For anyone sick of the egoic mind’s monolog I would highly recommend reading the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.


  3. For me a misdiagnosis and labeling made a temporary condition into a solid reality and kept the condition in place.
    Moving towards eliminating labels that bind people to conditions in the future( whether it be disabilities, mental illness etc) is so very important.
    The “illness” label can become part of your sense of self, your identity.
    The condition that is labeled “illness” or “disabled” has nothing to do with who you truly are.


  4. I agree. I did read one voice hearers comment, he is a HVN group facilitator in UK. The advert for their voices group said, I am thankful for my diagnosis, it enabled me to get rid of all the assholes in my life and left those who really matter.


    • A question: why does a person( we’ll call him “Oliver Sacks”) identify with the thoughts(voice),Oliver Sacks is obviously not reduced to the thought(voice) as clearly he is the one hearing the thought(voice)?

      Does creating space between the thought(voice) and the “I” help ?


  5. I will try to explain it better.
    As Oliver said he hears voices(the mind’s thoughts)this becomes problematic when we get taken over by the thoughts(voices). We think we are the thoughts(voices) that our body then reacts to with emotions and so get swept away by emotion forgetting we are that which hears the voices, the “I”.
    There is the “I” that hears the thoughts(voices)and you are the I ( or awareness).
    This understanding can be brought about by spending a little time as the witness of the voices only, in the case of witnessing you just observe the thoughts without feeling the egos compulsive conditioned need to react,accept or reject .
    Your attention (and self identity) switches to who hears the thoughts( the “I”) not the thoughts(voices)and emotions themselves .
    Its awaking to who you are.
    Most people are fully self identified with their thoughts and this is not who you are.
    Emotions are the body’s reaction to the thoughts, if you identify with the voices and the emotions they generate they strengthen a false identity.
    Be who you are, the “I” that hears the voices and feels the emotions and be free from the cycle .


  6. BDBinc, Eckhart tolle has a great story about the voices in our minds and a treatment plan to bring awareness ( without resistance or judgement)to the voices/thoughts.
    It is a jump for people to switch attention as they get taken over by the emotions the thoughts( voices) generate.

    Even three minute guided meditation can help


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