Example: ‘1 dream insects are dropping either on me from the ceiling of our bedroom, or crawling over my pillow. My long-suffering husband is always woken when I sit bolt upright in bed, my eyes wide open and my arm pointing at the ceiling. I try to brush them off. I can still see them—spiders or woodlice. I am now well aware it is a dream. But no matter how hard I stare the insects are there in perfect detail. I am not frightened, but wish it would go away’ (Sue D). Sue’s dream only became a hallucination when she opened her eyes and continued to see the insects in perfect clarity.
A hallucination can be experienced through any of the senses singly, or all of them together. So one might have a hallucinatory smell or sound.
To understand hallucinations, which are quite common without any use of drugs such as alcohol, LSD or cannabis, one must remember that everyone has the natural ability to produce such images. One of the definitions of a dream according to Freud is its hallucinatory quality. While asleep we can create full sensory, vocal, motor and emotional expenence in our dream. While dreaming we usually accept what we experience as real.
A hallucination is an experience of the function which produces dreams’ occurring while we have our eyes open.
The voices heard, people seen, smells smelt, although appearing to be outside us, are no more exterior than the things and images of our dreams. With this information one can understand that much classed as psychic phenomena and religious experience is an encounter with the dream process. That does not, of course, deny its imponance.
There are probably many reasons why Sue should experience a hallucination and her husband not. One might be that powerful drives and emotions might be pushing for attention in her life. Some of the primary drives are the reproductive drive, urge towards independence, pressure to meet unconscious emotions and past trauma and fears, any of which, in order to achieve their ends, can produce hallucinations.
A hallucination is therefore not an ‘illusion’ but a means of giving information from deeper levels of self. Given such names as mediumship or mystical insight, in some cultures or individuals the ability to hallucinate is often rewarded socially.
Drugs such as LSD, cannabis, psilocybin, mescaline, pey- ote and opium can produce hallucinations. This is sometimes because they allow the dream process to break through into consciousness with less intervention.
If this occurs without warning it can be very disturbing.
The very real dangers are that unconscious content, which in ordinary dreaming breaks through a threshold in a regulated way, emerges with little regulation. Fears, paranoid feelings, past traumas, can emerge into the consciousness of an individual who has no skill in handling such dangerous forces. Because the propensity of the unconscious is to create images, an area of emotion might emerge in an image such as the devil. Such images, and the power they contain, not being integrated in a proper therapeutic setting, may haunt the individual, perhaps for years. Even at a much milder level, elements of the unconscious will emerge and disrupt the person’s ability to appraise reality and make judgments. Unacknowledged fears may lead the drug user to rationalise their reasons for avoiding social activity or the world of work. See ESP and dreams; dead lover in husband under family. See also out of body experience.... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences