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Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
When you think of the words “illusion” and
“hallucination,” you may think of a crazy
person seeing something that isn’t there. But
there are many more types that are not
discussed as frequently. You don’t need to be
crazy to experience illusions and
hallucinations, and many of them are not
things that are seen.

Both illusions and hallucinations are types of
distortions of reality, but an illusion is a
distortion of something that really exists,
while a hallucination is a distortion of
something that isn’t real. Let’s explore the
unbelievable world of illusions and
hallucinations in some of their many forms.

10. Environmental Tilt
For people who experience this illusion, their
world is turned upside down. Or, at least,
their visual perception of the world is
greatly tilted, such that the direction of “up”
has moved somewhere else. This
environmental tilt usually is perceived as a
90-degree or a 180-degree tilt, meaning that
up could become right, left, or down. There
are other, even rarer, cases in which up
becomes forward or the tilt is at a more
unusual rotation, such as 30 or 150 degrees.

Environmental tilt typically appears rather
suddenly, and the illusion can last anywhere
from a few seconds to around an hour.
During these episodes, people report feeling
dizzy, which isn’t all that surprising
considering the disagreement between what
they are seeing and their sense of balance.

One woman reported having very sudden tilts
in her vision lasting around a second each
time. One of her sudden tilts caused her to
lose control of her car temporarily. Her tilts
varied in degrees, including 45, 90, and 180-
degree tilts. According to her case study, the
rotations were in a clockwise direction when
they happened slowly enough for her to see.
Many different problems can lead to the
experience of environmental tilt, including
strokes, migraines, and traumatic brain
injuries. Sometimes, this illusion is triggered
by patients moving their heads, as a sort of
super-vertigo. Many patients found that the
best treatment was to simply close their eyes
until their normal vision was reset

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Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
9 Charles Bonnet Syndrome

In 2016, an 81-year-old woman developed
some unusual problems with her vision.
Specifically, she frequently hallucinated
visits by pigeons in the early evening hours.
She did not have any pathological mental
problems—she was entirely sane—but she
did have age-related vision loss. Her
hallucinations were initially rare but later
increased to an occurrence nearly every day.

Doctors diagnosed her with Charles Bonnet
In vision loss, the eye receives less input
from the outside world, and it sends less
information to the brain as a result. But
brain cells are hungry for action. Neurons in
the visual centers in the brain try to do their
jobs anyway by changing the way that they
respond to the diminished incoming signals.
The cells can become more sensitive to
incoming signals or generate their own.

These changes can lead to Charles Bonnet
Syndrome, in which a person hallucinates
images in their blind spots.
In other words, because your brain cells in
your visual centers don’t know what is in
your blind spots, they make things up. This
increase in visual center brain activity
despite a decrease in visual input from the
eyes is called the “deafferentation theory.”
Evidence for this theory comes from brain
scans that show increased brain activity in
the visual centers of people with Charles
Bonnet syndrome.

The hallucinations associated with Charles
Bonnet syndrome usually last only minutes,
but they can last for hours. The images often
have moving parts, are in full color, and are
often of people or geometric patterns. These
images are almost always silent, and while
patients have reported feeling confused by
the hallucinations, they eventually become
comfortable with them, realizing that they
are not real.
Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
8 Chromatopsia

Colors are made in your brain. All that really
exists outside your head are different
wavelengths of light, bouncing off objects
without a care as to what they might look
like. It is entirely up to you to turn that light
into colors. One common disorder of color
is color blindness, in which certain
wavelengths of light cannot be told apart.
However, there are more mysterious
disorders of color too, such as
chromatopsia, the disorder that puts color
where it doesn’t belong.

The word “chromatopsia” can apply to
several specific distortions, including both
illusions and hallucinations. On the illusion
side of the spectrum is the type of
chromatopsia often affiliated with migraine
headaches, in which a person sees more
color than what is truly present. It’s as if
someone has turned up the color setting on
your computer monitor, except in real life.

But on the hallucination side of
chromatopsia, people experience seeing
colors where they do not belong. In other
words, colorless objects can suddenly take
on colorful appearances, or a person’s entire
field of view can change in perceived hue.
There are specific names for each color that
might permeate your vision in an episode of
hallucinatory chromatopsia. Blue vision is
called cyanopsia, yellow vision is called
xanthopsia, and red vision is called
erythropsia. There are also terms for purple
vision (ianothinopsia) and green vision
(chloropsia), as well as a term for when all
color vanishes from your vision, which is
called achromatopsia.
Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
7 Macropsia And Micropsia

The ability to tell how large something is
when looking at it isn’t as straightforward as
it seems. Figuring out the size of something
requires a complicated process that
considers both information from your eyes
as well as information already in your brain.
These are bottom-up and top-down
processes, respectively. These two processes
work together, for example, to help you
figure out how tall someone is based on
what other objects are near the person. We
take this complicated operation for granted
until it stops working.

Two illusions of mistaking the size of objects
are called macropsia and micropsia.
Respectively, they are perceiving things as
being too big or too small. Essentially,
people get the feeling that things they are
looking at are larger or smaller than they are
supposed to be. Both of these conditions are
affiliated with an overall syndrome called
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome due to how,
like in the book Alice in Wonderland , things
appear to shift sizes. In Alice in Wonderland
Syndrome, around 45 percent of people
experience macropsia, and around 59
percent experience micropsia.

The good thing about these illusions is that
they are usually temporary, lasting only
minutes in some cases. Many cases of
macropsia and micropsia occur in children
who get headaches, especially migraines.
One 12-year-old reported multiple episodes
of micropsia each day, and doctors were
able to scan his brain using fMRI during one
of his episodes. The results showed that the
part of the brain that is responsible for
processing vision was less active than
normal. While this didn’t explain what
specifically caused the illusions, it did show
that his brain was behaving unusually.
Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
6 Exploding Head Syndrome

Falling asleep is supposed to be a peaceful
transition, but not so for people with
exploding head syndrome. People with this
condition occasionally experience disruptions
while falling asleep or waking up in the form
of hallucinations. Specifically, they hear a
loud explosion noise in their head that
shocks them awake. This explosion noise is
usually accompanied by fear, but it is not

While many people with this disorder have
only a few episodes, there are reports of
some sufferers experiencing multiple
episodes in the course of a single night of
sleep . In addition to the explosion sound,
some people also experience flashes of light
or slight body convulsions. The number of
people with this disorder is not known, but
it appears to be more common than
originally thought when it was first

The noise itself sounds a bit different
depending on the person. People have
described it as lightning cracks, buzzing,
fireworks, gunshots, beeps, and other
sounds. While many people with this
condition worry that the symptoms indicate
some other, more serious problem,
researchers of this disorder have described
the condition as harmless. Because this
syndrome is not yet well-understood, there
are not a lot of known treatments, and
researchers often recommend simple
reassurance of the patient that the disorder
will not harm them in order to reduce their
anxiety about the attacks.
Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
4 Olfactisms And Odor-Color Synesthesia

There are groups of people who experience
strange mixed perceptions of the world
thanks to a condition called synesthesia. This
condition describes a person who
experiences perceptions that are
involuntarily linked together, such as words
and tastes or letters and colors.

One of the more rare experiences of
synesthesia is sometimes called an olfactism,
wherein a hallucinated smell is triggered by
some other sensation that a person receives.
For example, imagine that each time you
hear the name “Andrew,” you smell rotten
eggs. There are multiple types of olfactisms.
They can be triggered by seeing certain
lights, touching different textures, and even
fluctuations in temperature.

However, the hallucination often works in
the opposite direction, with the smell
triggering the hallucination rather than being
the subject of it. One type of synesthesia is
where smells cause the seeing of colors. This
is called odor-color synesthesia. The smells
and colors are often closely attached to one
another, meaning that the person will see a
specific color when they smell a specific
scent, but these associations sometimes
change over time. Interestingly, people with
this condition are superior both at
recognizing colors and distinguishing smells
compared to the average person.

In odor-color synesthesia, there may be
specific smells that cause the person to
experience intense colors. Some of the odors
reported to trigger strong colors include
animals, food, and household chemicals. The
associations between the smells and the
colors perceived do not necessarily align as
expected. For example, smelling a banana
could lead to a vivid perception of pink
rather than yellow.

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
3 Hallucinatory Halitosis

Halitosis means “bad breath,” and it is
something that people are often self-
conscious about, prompting them to freshen
their breath with mints or gum. But
sometimes, a person may perceive that they
have bad breath when, in fact, the smell is
all in their head. There are people who so
strongly believe that their breath is bad that
it disrupts the normal function of their lives.
This condition is called hallucinatory
halitosis or sometimes delusional halitosis.
These names for the disorder appear
interchangeable, but there is a small

In hallucinatory halitosis, it is required that
the sufferer actually experiences the bad
smell that does not exist, while in delusional
halitosis, the sufferer does not need to
report having smelled this bad smell. It is
sometimes unclear which term better applies
because the sufferer is the only one who is
able to report the possible hallucination.

Many people with this condition seek out
medical treatment to improve the smell of
their breath. In fact, some people with this
disorder become so obsessed with finding a
cure for their nonexistent bad breath that
they search incessantly for medical
specialists to fix them. Dentists or other
doctors cannot help, of course, because
there is no smell for them to fix. Patients
with hallucinatory halitosis who are told by a
dentist that their breath is fine often express
that they would rather visit a “better dentist”
than visit a psychiatrist to treat the delusion.
Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
2 Ictal And Postictal Religious Experiences

While it may not be surprising that some
hallucinations have a religious feel to them,
what may be surprising is that there are
people who experience religious
hallucinations due to epileptic seizures. In
other words, they have strange feelings of
religiosity, mysticism, or spirituality while
they are experiencing a seizure or afterward.

This disorder is usually affiliated with partial
seizures of the temporal lobe of the brain.
What this experience feels like differs
depending on the person, but it is often
described as a feeling of connectedness to
the universe. These seizures are closely
related to the kind that cause feelings of joy
or pleasure. The mystical experiences
themselves may involve sensory
hallucinations, such as hearing voices
believed to be divine, seeing religious
figures, or feeling a presence.
When the spiritual feelings occur during the
epileptic episode itself, it is called an ictal
religious experience. These ictal experiences
typically last for a few seconds or minutes.
In contrast are postictal religious
experiences, which occur following an
epileptic episode and can last much longer,
such as hours or days. These postictal
religious experiences have been responsible
for converting people to religions suddenly,
due to the intensity of the experience.

In 1955, one man, after having an unusually
depressing week, had a seizure that filled
him with feelings of bliss and religious
certainty. Later in life, he had another series
of seizures which caused him to lose his new
faith, but he did not lose his optimistic
outlook on life. This set of two conversions
in one person shows that hallucinations can
be powerful enough to convince us of
Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
1 Supernumerary Phantom Body Parts

Have you ever thought about fictional
characters with strange bodies and how it
must feel to have wings, or a tail, or extra
arms? Well, for some folk, they don’t need
to wonder about that last one.
Supernumerary phantom body parts are the
result of an unusual disorder wherein a
person has a hallucination of the awareness
of possessing additional body parts that do
not actually exist. Commonly, these body
parts are hands or feet, but they can be
other parts too, including eyes or entire

How is this possible? Your brain is
responsible for interpreting sensory
information that it receives from your body,
such as when something touches you. It is
also responsible for sending out information,
such as telling your hand to move. What the
brain must do with this incoming and
outgoing information is assign it to a place
on your body so that you can determine
where you were touched or what body part
is moving. But sometimes, often due to brain
damage, the brain gets confused and creates
categories of body parts that do not actually
exist. Someone with supernumerary phantom
body parts can actually feel those imaginary
body parts being touched and moving,
similar to the way that the average person
feels their real limbs.

People with this disorder do not actually
believe that they have extra body parts ; they
merely feel as if they have them and are not
delusional—if a person truly believes they
have extra body parts, then that is called
delusional reduplication of body parts
instead. Some people with this disorder
report being able to feel objects with their
phantom limbs in unusual hallucinations of
touch, and some also hallucinate being able
to see their phantom body parts.

Top 10 Unbelievable Types Of Illusions And Hallucinations - Health & Fitness

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