Christian Long

Oliver Sacks: What Hallucination Reveals about Our Minds

In TED Talks on May 24, 2010 at 8:20 am

Extra credit reflection by EDWARD C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Oliver Sacks:  What Hallucination Reveals about Our Minds

What does our hallucination tell about us? Are we insane if we have hallucinations? Who should I tell about my situations?

These are some of the few questions that pop up in people who have hallucinations. Why is it though? I believe it is because we as human beings don’t want to be labeled as “psychotic”. We are afraid from standing out of the normal crowd in such a way that we are referred to as a lunatic. For example the 90 year old woman that Oliver describes is so scared if she is going crazy or not. And one Oliver informs her that she is not crazy and that this is just a visual problem she is relieved and wants Oliver to inform the whole nursery staff that she is not insane. She is just one out of millions who don’t want to be treated as a crazy person. Many people have hallucinations yet mention it to no one because they are afraid that they would be look down upon. This reaction to having hallucination leads to less and less people accepting the treatment for such occasions. We are so scared to be different from our society that we refuse treatment and hide our problems. I believe that this mentality is one of the major defects of human nature. We are constantly pressured by our surrounding that we are barely are selves any more. May be our hallucinations tell us who we really are, what we really like, and what we really want to do.

But then again there are the hallucinations that we are completely unaware of what they mean. These include people or things that have no meaning to you or you have never even seen. What do these hallucinations mean? I am not sure and years of research have taken us only so far. These cases usually involve people who have lost the ability to hear or see. Should this mean anything? People who use to have the ability to see usually have visual hallucination and people who use to have the ability to hear usually have hearing hallucinations. I believe the link between these cases are that they miss what they use to have therefore their brain compensates by generating new sources. While living most of your life with the ability to hear or see and then losing it all in one day can leave a very traumatic effect. This usually leads to the desire to want what you use to have back therefore you brain creates what your ears and eyes cannot receive.

Overall such activities as hallucinations are just simple disabilities that our society looks down upon. The second we realize that people have such hallucinations we differentiate them and sometimes are even scared of them. We react poorly to such situations therefore leaving thousands of people scared to search for proper treatment. Our society should not look down on people who suffer from hallucination but help them to relieve their pain and suffering.

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