Definition: what is a coenesthetic hallucination?
Cenesthetic hallucinations, like all forms of hallucinations, are based on erroneous perceptions: the people who suffer from them perceive unreal intra-corporeal information and/or sensations. They are categorized as psychosensory hallucinations. However, they rather concern the inside of the body: the patients have feeling that part or all of their body has transformed and/or is possessed by an outside force.
When these hallucinations are generalized, patients complain of bodily transformations (all limbs become tentacles, for example), or even diabolical or animal possession (zoopathy). They may also report levitation or out-of-body experiences. When they are limited to certain areas of the body, they can be felt as heaviness, elongation of the limbs, irritation, or even the absence of a part of the body. Sometimes subjects also have the impression that the size, density, shape or position of one of their limbs has changed. These feelings are usually more distressing than painful.
What is the difference with tactile hallucinations?
Tactile hallucinations relate to skin sensitivity. Patients may feel tingling, tingling, burning or crawling, cold, etc. which he tries to get rid of by scratching, sometimes drawing blood.
What are the other types of hallucinations?
- auditory hallucinations. These are the most frequent hallucinations, which can result, as their name suggests, in the perception of more or less distinct and continuous sounds, voices or noises.
- Visual hallucinations. As their name suggests, patients believe they can distinguish simple images (glows, colored spots, etc.) or more complex ones (other individuals, monsters, etc.), more or less frightening.
- Olfactory and taste hallucinations. They may be associated with foul or pleasant smells or tastes, but are less specific than visual and auditory hallucinations.
- Intrapsychic hallucinations, experienced by patients as an intrusion of the outside world into their own consciousness. They are then convinced that another person, or an entity has interfered in their consciousness and is influencing them and imposing images and thoughts on them. These hallucinations are essentially found in schizophrenia.
What can be the consequences of such hallucinations?
Cenesthetic hallucinations are distressing, but they can also alter the behavior of the people who are victims of them, who can take crazy speechesisolate themselves and go so far as to commit violent actseven to suicideto “break free” from the supposed hold.
Causes: what can cause these hallucinations?
Patients may or may not be aware of their situation. Hallucinations can be chronic or dailyin the context of certain psychiatric illnesses
or certain neurological diseases:
- chronic diseases (kidney, liver failure, hypercalcemia, etc.),
- infectious diseases (malaria, syphilis, etc.),
- neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Charcot’s disease, etc.),
But they can also occur brutally and isolated, after taking toxic substances, drugs or alcohol, for example. Anxiety and depression disorders and sleep disorders such as narcolepsy (the irrepressible need to sleep that can occur at any time), chronic insomnia or sleep paralysis can also play a role.
The management of cenesthetic hallucinations depends on their cause, diagnosed by a sleep doctor, neurologist or psychiatrist.
- If there are psychiatric causes, antipsychotics (neuroleptics), possibly associated with taking anxiolytics and psychological support are the most effective treatment.
- If the hallucinations are linked to a previously mentioned disease, it is necessary to take care of the disease under strict monitoring.
- If the hallucinations are caused by medication, the doctor should be informed. will change the treatment.
- It is also advisable to take care of your sleep hygiene and to avoid taking medication, alcohol or recreational drugs.