Hallucinosis: Causes And Characteristics Of This Alteration

This type of drug-associated perceptual disturbance can be confused with hallucinations.

The brain is an extremely complex organ that is responsible for, among many other things, processing all sensory information, that is, controlling everything we perceive around us. But there are certain situations in which our brain plays with these perceptions, giving rise to the not very well known hallucinosis.

People who suffer or have suffered from these hallucinosis, report experiencing a series of visual and / or auditory illusions.

What is a hallucinosis?

Within this hallucinatory picture, hallucinosis is typical of  non-psychiatric illnesses, and refers to the state in which a person can experience hallucinations but being fully aware that what they perceive is not real.

The difference with the rest of hallucinations is that, in these cases, the person is able to perfectly discern that they are not real ; being fully capable of perceiving that something is not working correctly and, consequently, asking for help.

During an episode of hallucinosis, the patient is attentive and well oriented, and can even enter and exit this state with complete lucinosis, being able to narrate in detail what he is perceiving in the hallucinosis at that precise moment.

Differences between hallucination, pseudo-hallucination, and hallucinosis

Besides being able to be both auditory and visual, these three pictures have in common the fact that they appear in an external space and possess the properties of corporeity and objectivity inherent to normal perceptions.

However, unlike hallucinations and pseudo-hallucinations, those who experience them are aware that it is a hallucination and therefore it does not take long to call for help.

As for hallucinations and pseudo-hallucinations, these usually appear in psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia or the manic phase of bipolar disorder.

However, hallucinosis are more typical of various diseases such as intoxication, consumption or deprivation of drugs and substances of abuse or the well-known alcoholic hallucinosis. All of them are explained below.


As detailed above, hallucinosis is not typical of psychiatric disorders, but rather occurs as a consequence of situations of abuse of alcohol, psychoactive substances or drugs; although it may also occur, exceptionally, in a brain disorder.

1. Alcoholic hallucinosis

This type of hallucinosis consists of the perception of an object or phenomenon that is not present at that moment due to an excess of alcohol consumption.

When this happens, the person becomes aware of the deception that his mind is instilling in him and can associate it as something caused by his state.

The most typical cause of this symptom is related to the sudden elimination of excessive alcoholic habits, which is why it is common for these hallucinosis to be experienced during the withdrawal syndrome.

Patients who manifest this type of hallucinosis caused by alcohol should be seen urgently to try to control the symptoms, since if they do not receive adequate treatment immediately, it can worsen; thus becoming a delirium tremens.

This syndrome is characterized by being a serious condition that includes dehydration, fever, visual and auditory hallucinations, and that can even lead to death from acute poisoning.

2. Substances of abuse or psychotropic drugs

Among all the harmful effects that the use and abuse of drugs and psychotropic drugs have on both the body and the brain, hallucinosis are among the most common.

The most common hallucinogenic drugs are:

  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Psilocybin (DMT)
  • Mescaline
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

Ecstasy,  psilocybin and mescaline are made from certain species of hallucinogenic mushrooms and cacti, while LSD is made by synthesizing ergoline and tryptamines in a laboratory setting; being this much more powerful than any of the previous ones.

3. Brain disorders

There are certain brain diseases whose manifestations include episodes of hallucinosis. These disorders can be neurological, genetic, or caused by brain injuries or tumors. These symptoms vary greatly depending on the patient and the severity of the disease.

Charles Bonnet syndrome or organic hallucinosis

One of the cases in which hallucinosis has an organic cause is in  Charles Bonnet Syndrome, hence it is also known as organic hallucinosis. This name comes from the fact that there is something measurable, measurable, or quantifiable that causes this disease.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is a disease associated with people with visual loss. In these specific cases, patients also present with complex visual hallucinations.

This disorder affects people who are mentally healthy but suffer from significant visual loss. These patients repeatedly experience visual, vivid and complex hallucinations, with the peculiarity that the characters or objects perceived are smaller than usual.

Since they are hallucinosis and not hallucinations, those who suffer from them know perfectly well that they are not real, and since they are purely visual they do not affect any other sense.

People with Charles Bonnet Syndrome can experience a wide variety of hallucinations. From the most common, such as complex colored patterns and people, to animals, plants and animated objects.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is associated with injuries to any segment of the visual pathway, and is generally caused by advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and large visual field defects. These hallucinations generally stop when the patient executes some eye movement.

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