Saturday, June 6, 2009

Peripheral hallucinations © Megan Snider

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless,
one's own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror's least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O'erlooking a superior spectre
More near.

--Dickinson, "XXIX. Ghosts" (click to read)

Peripheral hallucinations--what are they? I'll tell you. Peripheral hallucinations occur with psychosis and should be in the psychosis post, but they're not. There are so many symptoms and overlapping criteria, that I am bound to miss something. So, you will either have to grab my clammy hand and come along or be totally fed up with my jumping from subject to subject. I hope you will just take my hand, for what it's worth.

Peripheral hallucinations can occur with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and, of course, any sort of psychosis. Peripheral hallucinations are misinterpretations in thought brought on by psychosis. The object of the hallucination fluctuates from person to person-- one person may hallucinate differently than another. Do you recall when I told you about "mis-seeing" things? Peripheral hallucinations fall under this category. It is basically anything from seeing an amorphous blog to a human figure out of the corner of your eye. You may also feel a menacing "presence"on all sides of you. Paranoia is a symptom of psychosis and these disturbances are usually accompanied by massive fear.

Now, there is an occurrence where Schizophrenics, Bipolars, and Schizoaffectives can "mis-see" texts as well as shapes. I am unsure if this has a separate name. Sometimes they will mistakenly see profanities or misread words or jumble patterns.

It is not always dramatic. A mentally ill person does not necessarily see a man wielding a knife or a face in the darkened window while they're in the house alone. Now, they CAN, but they don't always. They may just see a shape or a color and it is no big deal. The affect of the hallucination has to do with the progression of the psychosis.

They are quite terrifying depending on what one might see. The variety and sheer horror involved in the hallucination depends wholly upon the person and the disturbance in his or her brain. I'm not quite sure if anyone believes their hallucinations are real; I'm sure some might be inclined to believe so. Considering the strageness of mental illness and the tragedy of it, I would say that is not such a far-fetched idea.

I will say that such experiences can't be easily shrugged off one's shoulders.

© Megan Snider

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