How a Schizophrenic Discerns Between Real Voices and Hallucinations

“Over time, however, I realized that there were a few qualities of a hallucination that were not present in other sensory phenomena. Often hallucinations didn’t function in space-time like most other things. An auditory hallucination is usually louder, softer, more clear, less clear, than it should be given the environment it is occurring in. Hearing a whispering voice in a movie theater very clearly (seemingly close to my ear) was unusual, thus unlikely, so I was more easily able to discount it. Likewise, the voices sometimes had cinematic effects to them like echoing slightly, perhaps sounding ethereal, or speaking so slowly that it sounded distorted. These things were not usually capable of being done by ordinary forces in an ordinary environment.

“When it comes to visual hallucinations, it is both easier to distinguish, but more difficult to dismiss. Hallucinations for me are often persecutory in that they are poised at me in anger or violence. Just as when you are walking through a haunted house, knowing that someone is going to pop out at you who is wholly fake and safe, you still lurch when it comes, visual hallucinations have that sort of immediacy.

“Less commonly experience hallucinations are tactile and olfactory, touch and smell. When it comes to weird smells, it is a bit of a scary annoyance. Sometimes it would smell like a gas leak in the house or a smoke in the car to the point that I would be obliged to have it checked out. A real waste of time and money, but I had very little at my disposal with which to interpret these things on my own and the risk was often high. Tactile hallucinations come pretty frequently for me at night as I commonly experience sleep paralysis as a stage of falling asleep (I remain awake in the hypnagogic state where one is dreaming, but not asleep… for all intents and purposes a hallucinatory experience). This can be pretty frightening as it is nearly impossible to just ignore being touched.”

via theoccassional comments on Schizophrenia, Understanding Delusion, and Buddhist Philosophy.