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

BBC videos on isolation and hallucinations

Found these fascinating videos , they are excerpts from a BBC documentary, where they placed people in isolation ( in darkness) for 48 hours. Many started hallucinating. The Dr commented that in a lack of sensory environment, the brain stilll has to function, so it continues to create and work regardless.

So how helpful is solitary confinement for mentally ill one must ask? Many voice hearers will attest to the fact that isolation, and lack of sleep, and also late at night voices are often worse( when awake in the dark)

Here is the first http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfdN_megX4E&feature=fvwrel
in the second one you see them experiencing hallucinations http://www.youtube.com/watch?

The third one, they are tested afterwards, and their mental capabilities have deteriorated http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ewX-4eIomM&feature=relmfu

Sensory Deprivation can cause Hallucinations

According to the article on the WIRED SCIENCE website, just 15 minutes of sensory deprivatiin can cause hallucinations. It is a common fact that isolation from people and life can make hearing voices worse, so I was interested to see this article. Especially when “seclusion” is often used as a form of treatment for people in mental health facilities.

The study can be found on Pubmeds site .

This easier to understand rundown is from MINDHACK site

The researchers were interested in resurrecting the somewhat uncontrolled research done in the 50s and 60s where participants were dunked into dark, silent, body temperature float tanks where they subsequently reported various unusual perceptions.

In this study the researchers screening a large number of healthy participants using a questionnaire that asks about hallucinatory experiences in everyday life. On the basis of this, they recruited two groups: one of ‘high’ hallucinators and another of ‘low’ hallucinators.

They then put the participants, one by one, in a dark anechoic chamber which shields all incoming sounds and deadens any noise made by the participant. The room had a ‘panic button’ to stop the experiment but apparently no-one needed to use it.

They asked participants to sit in the chamber for 15 minutes and then, immediately after, used a standard assessment to see whether they’d had an unusual experiences.

After a twenty minute break, they were asked again about perceptual distortions to see if there were any difference when normal sensation was restored.

Hallucinations, paranoid thoughts and low mood were reported more often after sensory deprivation for both groups but, interestingly, people already who had a tendency to have hallucinations in everyday life had a much greater level of perceptual distortion after leaving the chamber than the others.

This study complements research published in 2004 that found that visual hallucinations could be induced in healthy participants just by getting them to wear a blindfold for 96 hours.