review

Review: Hallucinations


I have wanted to read this book for some time. I have a fascination for hallucinations because I get migraine auras: visual, tactile, olfactory and auditory.

Hallucinations is by Oliver Sacks.
The Blurb:

Hallucinations are often seen as a sign of madness or mental disorders but, in fact, can occur for a variety of reasons. There are conditions where when on is going deaf they have auditory hallucinations. Similarly, when they are going blind, people can have visual hallucinations. In the twilight stages of before we fall asleep and just before we wake hallucinations are equally possible. I have, for example, heard my name called as I am falling asleep. Heard a conversation going on but couldn’t understand the words. He does discuss sleep paralysis as well, which I have experienced… the sensation someone is in the room, the feeling someone is grabbing me. Conditions such as migraines and epilepsy can cause varied hallucinations. I have had an auditory aura of hearing a music box playing. Visual auras called scintillating scotomas, objects that appear to be moving or shifting when they are not, flashes of color, phosphenes and quite a few other visual phenomena. All of these and more are covered in the book making the topic of hallucinations less stigmatized.

Why did I pick it up: I picked this one up because of my insomnia, sleep paralysis and migraines I am very aware of how bizarre things can get and our brains can play tricks on us. I was curious about what he had to say on the matter.

What is good about the book:
It is fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. He gives personal examples and examples of patients to enhance the explanations of each condition. It makes it fluid and not a dry read. It is naturally in-depth on the topic but not bogged down with the science, just enough to be quite accessible to any reader. Frankly, the way he explores the topic really reduces the stigma on hallucinations since there is a broad spectrum of reasons one can have them from Phantom Limb, Parkinson’s treatment to sensory deprivation. Exploring the nuances between the variations makes for one hell of a read.

What is not so good about this novel: I like a little more depth on the science. Just a matter of taste but it does make for a drier read for some people. I just like to know some real depth into the subject matter. However, Oliver Sacks creates a fine balance and I do love the personal accounts. So not much of a complaint. I look forward to reading his book on  migraines.

Rate it 5/5

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