According to the generalized interpretation of various physicians and specialists, illusions are the erroneous, distorted or altered perception of real objects or phenomena, according to J. Eskylo, this is a “distortion of perception,” Pinel called this state “a delusion of the imagination,” and V.P Serbian designated a similar phenomenon as “imaginary sensation”.
Illusions can arise not only in mentally ill people, but also in a perfectly healthy person. In healthy people, similar symptoms may appear due to neglect, and manifestations of physical or physiological sensations of this kind are also known.
Doctors believe that the basis of such phenomena are the ordinary laws of physics. So, the refraction of objects on the border of different transparent media is perceived absolutely differently, distorted (for example, a spoon in a transparent glass with water is visually “refracted”). A vivid example of such distortion can serve as a widely known illusion – the emergence of mirages in the deserts.
The physiological underpinnings of illusions are related to the specific functions of the analyzers. If you look at a moving train for a long time, you get the feeling that it is standing still, and the beholder, on the contrary, seems to be moving in the opposite direction. If the swing swings suddenly and abruptly stop, then the people sitting in them still have a few moments of a sense of the rotation of the surrounding environment.
The reasons for the distortion and refraction of the perception of the environment are not always the person’s painful sensations, this can be caused by the special properties of the environment, the physiological characteristics of the human body, excessive impressionability and insecurity, some of them in certain cases are mandatory for everyone (fear, surprise).
All kinds of illusions differ in the sensations and perceptions of the sense organs in which they manifest themselves. According to the conditions of their occurrence, all illusions are subdivided into phenomena of physical, physiological and mental manifestation.
Illusions of a mental or pathological type are caused by psychological reasons, and consist in various violations of human activity in the field of attention, sensory tone, memory, distinct perception of the associative series. Psychic illusions of the mentally ill are in the field of a special pathological phenomenon. This kind of illusions is divided into affective and verbal phenomena, as well as, paralegal.
The emergence of affective illusions is possible in situations of affect or an unusual emotional state for a person – with a strong fear, excessive desire, usually unattainable, tense anticipation, depressed and anxious state. Affective illusions occur especially often during periods of painful changes in the emotional state.
It is possible to create a similar phenomenon under completely defined environmental conditions, for example, when there is insufficient illumination, at dusk, at night when lightning flashes (at this moment, the light is distorted and refracted). A moving curtain can be perceived as a lurking robber, a belt on the armchair – like a snake ready to jump, etc.
There are affective illusions and in cases when, in addition to affective tension, weakness (indistinctness) of the irritant sign (remoteness of the object, quiet rustling sounds, indistinct indistinct speech) and signs of obvious asthenia.
Any perfectly healthy mentally ill person can have a phenomenon of affective illusion if he is in an unfamiliar environment, an unfamiliar place, in an unusual emotional state (a classic example is a visit to a graveyard night).
“Materialize” in the affective illusions of a healthy person and the constant expectation of something unpleasant to him (for example, if a person is very afraid of dogs, then in an unfamiliar environment in poor lighting, every foreign movement will seem to him as a dog throwing at him).
Occurrence of verbal or auditory illusions can also occur on the basis of some affective state and be expressed in an erroneous distorted perception of the sense or sound of the conversation of surrounding people, while the neutral person perceives (or treats subconsciously) as threatening their lives, insults, abuse, or accusations.
Affective illusions in sick people occur in different disease states, at different stages of disease development, they manifest themselves in delirium, anxiety-depressive syndrome, paraphrenic syndrome, paranoid syndrome.
The initial stages, for example, of the development of delirium, the acute stages of paraphrenic and paranoid syndromes are characterized by the emergence of affective illusions, expressed in sensations of threat, with deceptive sensations – sounds of a metallic type are perceived as a weapon sound, water pouring from a tap – like a beginning flood,
Affective or verbal illusions in the psychopathologically respect are very heterogeneous. Some of them relate to depression, some are a reflection of the influence of delirium, some illusions are expressed by persistent delusional (erroneous) beliefs. As a rule (in most cases) affective illusions are associated with the emergence of a leading affect and their basis is psychopathological symptomatology.
The emergence of affective illusions is characteristic of the patient not only in the state of simple depression, but also with obvious tendencies to the depressive phenomenon of delusions. A sick person who is in a state of activated depression of a delusional type is constantly awaiting punishment, execution, retribution for sins, condemnation of others.
In this case, a healthy person must necessarily distinguish from affective illusions, the error of judgment or wrong conclusion, made under the influence of a physical phenomenon.
So, for example, you can easily take a shiny object on the ground for a coin, or a sunlit glass shard for gold, this phenomenon is not considered an illusion, that is not a deceptive (false perception) of the sensible definition of something, but erroneous misinterpreted judgment.
Psychologists and psychiatrists are well aware that the emergence of individual manifestations of affective illusions (an isolated manifestation) is not at all considered a mental illness or its symptom, but more often than not, is evidence of affective tension (arising from overwork, sudden fear, fear).
The symptom of the disease can be considered only a set of manifestations of affective illusions in combination with other morbid manifestations and disorders of the mental state.
The main difference between physiological illusions and the pathological manifestation of affective illusions is considered by doctors the possibility of correction of the condition, as well as the self-critical attitude of the patient to his own state (awareness of the illusory nature of the content of what is happening).
In these cases, with any change in the conditions under which an erroneous perception has been created (bright light or a change in the state of the central nervous system, another environment, etc.), and the introduction of perceived previously distorted images into the objective reality lead to “exposing” affective illusions. And the person reveals his own mistake on his own – which serves as a reason for the destruction of the illusion.
In the event of persistent affective illusions of a pathological nature, the critical attitude towards the event in the patient decreases, the illusions become even more stable, and their intensity can be lowered only during treatment, as the morbid state changes during the remission.