Sensory perception of something that does not exist. Hallucinations can affect any of the senses; the patient is certain that what he perceives is the truth. Hallucinations should be distinguished from ‘illusory falsifications’, in which one believes something to be the case because it is what one expects and hopes – as in missing spelling mistakes because one believes them to be correct. Hallucinations indicate a disturbed sense of reality, and are signs of a psychosis. This may be the result of a physical illness (high fever), certain cases of poisoning (alcohol or LSD) or in psychic conditions. Auditory hallucinations are always psychological in origin, whereas visual hallucinations are often caused by poisoning. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause: neuroleptics (tranquillizers) for psychosis, control of any physical condition, or psychotherapy if neurotic problems lie behind the clinical picture.

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