A person floating floating in water surrounded by hallucinations.

Artwork by Taniya Pramanik

A person floating floating in water surrounded by hallucinations.

Types of Hallucination: Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Medically reviewed by

Written by Aditi Sahu

Schizophrenia is the most common type of ‘psychotic disorder’ in which a person starts losing a sense of reality. Schizophrenia was first identified way back in 1887, yet its exact causes haven’t been determined.

 Though only 1% of the world population develops this disorder, it remains one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized illnesses today. And perhaps it is the most dangerous and serious mental disorder in Psychiatry. In this article, we will take you through the symptoms of schizophrenia and types of schizophrenia, followed by a detailed discussion on ‘hallucinations’ and their types. 

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is considered a ‘syndrome’, which means that it may encompass a number of disorders that have similar symptoms but varying causes. Every person will display slightly differing schizophrenia symptoms, and the first signs, such as subtle personality changes, irritability, and the gradual encroachment of unusual thoughts, can be easy to miss. Cases are generally diagnosed after the genesis of psychosis. The first psychotic episode usually features what psychiatrists call ‘positive symptoms.

What are the Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia? 

Things like delusions, hallucinations, and impaired speech or behavior- are called positive symptoms. Meaning they occur in people with schizophrenia but not in general people. Negative symptoms in schizophrenia refer to a drastic reduction in qualities- such as no motivation, not expressing emotions, not speaking, etc. There are cognitive symptoms as well, like difficulty concentrating, remembering obvious information like one’s date of birth, and making simple/ decisions like which soap to buy.

What is important to know about positive vs. negative symptoms?

The antipsychotic drugs used to treat schizophrenia have helped researchers to trace the signatures of the disorder in the brain. They found that the ‘positive symptoms’ occur as a result of excess dopamine in particular brain pathways. Traditional antipsychotics block the dopamine receptors in the patient’s brain, as a result reducing the positive symptoms. However, the same medication can worsen the situation in case a patient shows negative symptoms. It’s a possibility that the negative symptoms of schizophrenia may occur because of low dopamine levels in other brain areas. 

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, starting with ‘hallucinations.’

What is the Meaning of Hallucination?

Hallucination is one type of positive psychotic symptom. A person is said to be hallucinating when he/she starts perceiving senses that are not based on reality, such as feeling something crawling on their skin, hearing voices, or seeing something that no other person in the room is able to see. 

Symptoms of Hallucination

Hallucinations are sensory experiences that appear real but have no basis in reality. Symptoms could involve hearing voices (auditory hallucinations), seeing things that aren't there (visual hallucinations), or feeling sensations that have no real cause (tactile hallucinations). These can be distressing, lead to confusion, fear, difficulty distinguishing reality, and, in some cases, aggression.

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What Types of Hallucinations are Most Common?

Auditory hallucinations: Hearing voices 

Auditory hallucinations are the most common type of hallucinations in schizophrenia patients. There are different types of auditory hallucinations that can be observed in someone suffering from the disorder:

Commanding Voice

When someone is experiencing auditory hallucinations, it's very important not only to acknowledge that they are hearing voices and take them seriously but also to ask them what kind of voices they are hearing. Because it's possible they are hearing a voice that’s commanding them to do something, or take an action that may not be in good favor of themselves. 

Running Commentary

Imagine hearing a non-stop commentary recounting everything you do, think, or feel. A person can even hear more than one voice talking at one time. This is important to address as it can be very disturbing for patients, and it might look like they are going nuts.

Visual Hallucinations: Seeing things

This is basically when a person starts visualizing or seeing things that do not exist in reality. It can be objects, colors, patterns, light, a loved one they lost, or a random group of people. 

Note: Visual hallucinations can often be misinterpreted as ‘illusions’. An illusion is merely a misinterpretation of an ‘existing’ sensory stimulus. For example, seeing a human figure in the branches of a tree. It's basically our mind getting tricked because of the light and shadow, and hence, it perceives it as something else- that’s an illusion.

Olfactory Hallucinations: Smelling or Tasting Things

Yes, smelling or feeling a particular taste, something unusual that no other person in the room is sensing, is also a type of hallucination people with schizophrenia experience. They would often say that they smell something funny or they can smell something burning. This can be a distressing hallucination, especially if the patient feels he/she is being poisoned. 

Tactile Hallucinations: Feeling Things

When a person feels a touch, sensation, or movement on their body when there’s absolutely nothing happening in reality, it’s called tactile hallucination. It could be the feeling of something burning their skin or like an insect crawling on their skin. This kind of hallucination is usually secondary to drug abuse or alcohol withdrawal. 

This is just a summary of the different types of hallucinations a patient may present. But it's very important to dig deeper and ask what exactly are they feeling or seeing- to get the complete story behind what the patient is actually experiencing. Another key point to remember is that hallucinations do not necessarily mean that the person is suffering from schizophrenia. It could be a mood disorder, a different mental disorder, or even a drug reaction. Thus, a thorough diagnosis is a must before reaching a conclusion.  

Mental disorders need a medical intervention just like any other disease or health problem. The Cadabam’s Group is a psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery center that has been treating patients with mental disorders for the past 27 years. Our highly trained multidisciplinary psychiatric team ensures timely diagnosis and speedy recovery of the patient. Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that cannot be cured, but with the right treatment and therapies, the patient can be helped with leading a better and more productive life. Rehabilitation for schizophrenic patients involves a complex At Cadabam’s, and we also offer rehabilitation for schizophrenia for such patients that are equipped to treat a patient within a safe environment. 

If you are searching for a solution to your problem, Cadabam’s Rehabilitation Centre can help you with its team of specialized experts. We have been helping thousands of people live healthier and happier lives for 30+ years. We leverage evidence-based approaches and holistic treatment methods to help individuals effectively manage their Hallucination symptoms of schizophrenia. Get in touch with us today. You can call us at +91 96111 94949

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1. Why do hallucinations occur?

There are several reasons for this. It might be schizophrenia, a neurological system condition such as Parkinson's disease or epilepsy, or any number of other problems.

2. What are the 5 types of hallucinations?

The 5 hallucination types include auditory hallucination, visual hallucination, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory hallucinations.

3. How do you help someone experiencing hallucinations?

You can help those battling hallucinations by educating yourself on the different types and symptoms of hallucinations. You could also gently nudge the person to seek professional assistance when they are battling the disorder. 

4. How are hallucinations in schizophrenia treated?

Hallucinations can be treated with a combination of medication and therapy. Medication can help reduce the incidence and severity of hallucinations, while psychotherapy under the guidance of an expert therapist can help a person cope with hallucinations better. 

5. What types of hallucinations are associated with schizophrenia?

The different types of hallucinations associated with schizophrenia include:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Tactile
  • Musical hallucinations
  • Lilliputian hallucinations

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