Author Topic: Gods, demons and voices - the world of hallucination.  (Read 447 times)

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Online Graybeard

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Gods, demons and voices - the world of hallucination.
« on: October 25, 2012, 06:50:32 AM »
A long extract from the book "Hallucinations" by Oliver Sacks. http://www.npr.org/2012/10/24/163271304/exclusive-first-read-hallucinations-by-oliver-sacks.

This is the introductory paragraph:
Quote
Hallucinations can be terrifying, enlightening, amusing or just plain strange. They're thought to be at the root of fairy tales, religious experiences and some kinds of art. Neurologist Oliver Sacks has been mapping the oddities of the human brain for decades, and his latest book, Hallucinations, is a thoughtful and compassionate look at the phantoms our brains can produce — which he calls "an essential part of the human condition." In this chapter, Sacks examines auditory hallucinations. "Hearing voices" has long been the classic signifier of mental illness, but many otherwise healthy people just happen to have hallucinatory voices in their heads, according to Sacks. Hallucinations will be published Nov. 6.

Oliver Sacks has long been one of my favourite writers on psychiatry, mental illness and the human condition - he has written several books, each one is massively informative and well-written. Here, in a chapter that is all but impossible to summarise, he speaks of the circumstances of voices in the head and hallucinations caused by brain malfunction.
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

Offline Nick

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Re: Gods, demons and voices - the world of hallucination.
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2012, 06:52:38 AM »
Don't believe a word of it.  What, no, shut up.  I'm trying to think. Did not, yes I did. What...
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Offline relativetruth

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Re: Gods, demons and voices - the world of hallucination.
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2012, 08:44:50 AM »
The human brain is a pattern recognition machine.
What we 'see' incorporates just a tiny proportion of the pixel data coming through our eyes.
At night there is much less data coming through our eyes so we have to mgive extra weight to vague shapes and so the brain has to interpret what these shapes mean. That is why ghosts ONLY appear in badly lit conditions.

Auditory input requires a lot less 'data' as you can see when you compare the size of an MP3 file compared to a JPEG file.
And likewise it does not need much to trigger a sound memory.

Music is a case in point, In a few different office environments I have indulged in 'song seeding'. This is the game where you whistle or hum a well known tune as you pass a colleague consentrating on their work. If this person is then later observed singing/humming etc, this song, you gain points. It only takes a few bars of the song to be successful.

Dreams and hallucinations occur when the brain is cut off from its primary input.
Because those pattern recognition parts of the brain are still active, and they are not getting any input from your eyes, then those bits of noise from other electrical activity still occurring in the brain have EXTRA significance.

Sounds require less data to activate a memory. That's why rustling trees in the dark can sound like whispering voices.
God(s) exist and are imaginary