Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Benign Hallucinations?


#1

Hello!

I’m wondering if any of you have any experience with very vivid, consistent, but ultimately-benign visual hallucinations?

My girlfriend has been seeing colored auras around people her entire life. Initially, I thought she might have some rare form of emotion-color synesthesia, but then a few months into dating, she divulged that she also sees humanoid-shaped “entities” that are made of the same slightly transparent colors as the auras, except they are “filled in” without a human to surround. They move like humans and communicate with her telepathically. She doesn’t “hear” them speak, but instead communicates with them through the colors somehow. She tried to explain it to me once and said “imagine a piano where all the keys play colors and the colors represent words.”

A lot of her family & friends are new agey/spiritualist types and believe she has extra-sensory psychic abilities. They’ve asked her to be a medium in the past to talk to dead relatives. It wasn’t until she was 20 and went to a therapist for ADHD symptoms that she was tentatively-diagnosed with schizophreniform, with the anticipation that it would turn into a full diagnosis of schizophrenia, disorganized subtype within 6 months. However, she doesn’t experience any classic paranoid hallucinations/delusions. These “entities” aren’t out to get her or telling her to kill herself or burn the house down or stab her boyfriend, etc. They’re actually kind of boring. I asked her to point them out when she sees them and let me ask them questions and translate their answers back to me. She’s fully aware that her mind is likely projecting these things, but she’s indulged me. To date, I’ve interviewed 3 of these “entities” and none of them say anything threatening. They can’t affect reality. They don’t want to hurt her. They’re just sort of bored with their existence in this “ghost realm” and have vague memories of their previous human lives.

Has anybody ever heard of anything like this? Is it likely that they’ll remain harmless forever? She calls them “white noise” and she pretty much ignores them. She’s been seeing them since childhood.

Thanks for reading!


#2

Weird, hope you get some answers on here!


#3

In general I would say if it’s not a problem don’t treat it… but I’m certainly no professional and have no idea how such things could develop. I’m not sure about visual hallucinations, but I got from a researcher that up to 20% of the general population has heard auditory hallucinations at some point in their life. For most of these people they are benign and do not interfere in their lives in a problematic way. They would hear a lost relative or something and either interpret it in an esoteric way or as a projection - but many of these people find some solace in these hallucinations and they do not affect their lives in any other ways. Personally, I would be comforted by her saying she sees it as white noise, that seems to indicate these hallucinations do not affect her life in a dramatic sense.


#4

Wow, you just explained something I experience so clearly I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have been like this for years now. Ghost realm is exactly how I would describe it. The way they speak and what they talk about and the communication between themselves when they think I am not paying attention. Many are nice, but there are a few who try and trip me up from time to time. Interesting that she experiences this as well.


#5

Thanks for sharing. Personally I wouldn’t worry about it, it seems that she is coping well with it and has adapted to this over the years. Attempts to treat it are more likely to upset her adaptation and cause malign side effects than do any good, if you ask me. And boring is a good place to be - anything that has a major emotional charge is more likely to cause problems and get her more involved with her ghost realm.


#6

Well its good , that she’s not paranoid. My Question is , why are you interviewing these entities. What is the purpose? Are you trying to get them to leave? Does your girlfriend want them to leave? How is her functioning? Does she hold a job for instance?


#7

@flybottle
Thank you for your insight. That’s how we’re leaning, but I’ve read a lot about how schizophrenia needs early intervention for the best prognosis, which sometimes makes me think maybe she should get a psych to experiment with some atypical antipsychotics and see if it affects things. But there are so many potential problematic side effects to medication and these hallucinations don’t currently bother her, so we go back and forth…

@Scottb
Interesting! When did you start experiencing this? Have any medications affected your perceptions?

@Kerome
Thanks for your comment. That’s how we’re leaning. Just curious if that strategy has bitten anybody in the past: not treating something that was initially benign, but got much worse, and maybe would’ve benefited from earlier intervention when the symptoms weren’t as severe?

@Meteor
My purpose initially was to learn how she is perceiving them. I wanted to see if they say anything scary that makes me think they can make her paranoid or influence her to do harmful things, but so far, no signs of that. She just ignores them unless I ask to talk to them. She has had a few experiences where she’ll feel a hand on her shoulder and turn around and one of these things will be there and just say “hi.” So it’s occasionally annoying, but they’re not causing any other harm. I don’t mind them as long as they remain benign.

She is currently functioning well and has a management job in sales. She has some pretty intense ADHD symptoms and exhibits some of the disorganized behavior, but has made a lot of progress on that in recent years just by getting sober and occasionally taking adderall to help her concentrate.


#8

Well, I’ll take my own case as an example. I started off with a couple of dream visions and insomnia, then progressed to occasionally hearing voices, then to hearing voices nearly full time, then I started doing a few things that were considered odd for the sake of ‘experiment’… This was over the course of two months. As you can see these things can and do progress, and I did eventually start taking meds. Whether taking meds earlier would have helped, i don’t think so.

If she has been stable like this for years, I honestly can’t see a benefit to taking meds and potentially upsetting her. The meds have major side effects and taking them is not an easy win in any case. I would be careful, especially around stressful situations, and keep an eye out for unusual effects and experiences. And I’d make sure to have my dietary supplements sorted, things like Omega 3 oils, magnesium and other brain supporting vitamins and minerals.


#9

Probably from when I was about 17. The meds only seem to make me so tired I cannot function properly, so it does disturb it a little. I still see the auras around certain people. The longer I spend with someone the more intense it gets, so I find it hard to focus on the person and pay attention sometimes.


#10

The only benign hallucinations I’ve had was of a gargoyle who promised to protect me from the other voices and entities I see. But since starting medication in 2010 I haven’t seen him.


#11

@Kerome

Thank you so much for your perspective and helpful suggestions! I only recently became aware of how much supplements can help. I have some reading to do :slight_smile:

@Scottb

I read your message to her and she really related to the last sentence. She’s said stuff before about how she would get overwhelmed by all the colors in a crowded room and had to learn how to differentiate her own, etc.

@cbbrown

Thanks for sharing.