Hallucination

Last Updated: March 29, 2019

Definition - What does Hallucination mean?

A hallucination is a sensory impression generated by the mind that appears real to the person experiencing it. While often associated with the sense of sight, an individual can experience a hallucination through any of the senses. During a hallucination, an individual is conscious and believes that he or she is actually undergoing a physical experience. Signals sent by the brain can emulate imagined or remembered sights, sounds, tastes, smells, or tactile impressions.

Hallucinations may be induced by the consumption of hallucinogenic drugs but are also associated with disorders such as schizophrenia, dementia, and Parkinson's disease. In some cases, a brain tumor, epilepsy, or macular degeneration can trigger hallucinations. Among the many other potential causes of hallucinations are sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, some prescription medications, and extreme stress.


Some forms of hallucinations may be treated with medication. Hallucinations triggered by a stressor may go away once the stressor is removed. Psychological therapy may help treat some people who suffer from hallucinations.

WorkplaceTesting explains Hallucination

The American Psychological Association defines hallucinations as a "false sensory perception" that appears real despite an "absence of external stimuli." An individual believes that he or she is seeing, hearing, tasting, touching or smelling something that in reality isn't there. Determining the appropriate treatment for someone experiencing hallucinations is dependent upon diagnosing the cause of the symptoms.

Examples of minor hallucinations might be isolated incidents of thinking someone called your name but no one is there or thinking something touched your arm.

Not all hallucinations are triggered by accident. In some cultures, meditation and sensory deprivation, or the use of hallucinogenic drugs are used to temporarily induce hallucinations.

Substances known to trigger hallucinations include the drugs LSD, PCP and dextromethorphan, the chemical psilocybin which is found in some mushrooms, and salvia divinorum, found in some types of sage plants. Mescaline harvested from certain cactus plants can also trigger hallucinations.

In some instances, substance abuse can lead to unintended hallucinogenic experiences. LSD can cause hallucinations when ingested and may trigger unpredictable, flashback hallucinations later. These flashbacks are called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). Withdrawal from alcohol after addictive use may trigger a type of hallucination called delirium tremens (DTs).

Share this:

Connect with us

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of employment testing and employee wellness professionals.