The world of man’s illusions



Basic knowledge of man about illusions is based on the fact that this is a subjective phenomenon, different from real perception. However, we have no full justification what can be considered an illusion (a healthy person). At the same time, psychologists argue that the perception of a real world by man is almost made up of illusions.

The simplest example is the perception of a three-dimensional image – each person associates a picture according to the angle of view, everything else is perceived at the stage of guessing, with the help of additional senses, by touch, or depending on the location of the light source.


At the heart of the formation of illusions in the human brain is the reinterpretation of current events, and this is due to the fact that the human brain does not work just completely, but only 10%.

The world of man's illusions

And it is the emergence of illusions that is the reaction of the brain that is realized through the senses (as an auxiliary function), not perceiving everything that is happening, and only what seems to be the main thing at every particular moment in life. Some psychologists call this the function of “survival”, that is, the brain perceives only those phenomena that it needs for conditional survival at this very moment (the feeling of hunger, thirst, etc.). These moments are divided into different segments and directions.

The appearance in the mind of visual illusions is provoked by the peculiarity of the work of the human eye. Theoretically, the eyes perform the function of the scanner, that is, they simply “read” the information, and then transfer it to the brain, which connects the obtained data into one complete picture. If the brain receives inaccurate information, or incomplete information, then it independently “thinks out”, based on previous experience. In such cases, there is a discrepancy between reality and the picture created by the brain.

Sometimes a phenomenon or object is supplemented by the brain with such details, which do not exist, but which the person subconsciously wants to see. A vivid example of this phenomenon can be the experience of psychologists – they have often encountered a situation where people of the same profession, education and age interpret the same picture in different ways.

Visual illusions are divided into separate groups, depending on the reasons that can create an illusory perception of a particular event, phenomenon or object. These include the physiological causes associated with the peculiarity of perception of the retina.

Illusions such as the perception of the size of vertical lines greater than horizontal (at the same length), the illusion of Ebbinghaus, called the illusion of contrast, are generally known. It consists in the fact that among large objects a large object seems larger, and vice versa.

The world of man's illusions

No less known is the illusion of Zeller, which is a special way of performing the hatching, in which all parallel lines are not perceived to be parallel. To visual illusions that change a person’s life depending on perception, the illusion of autokinetic character also applies – with a certain look at the drawings some objects begin to move and rotate. There are many such examples, and they are well known not only to psychologists, but also to architects, artists and fashion designers who often use them in their work.

All this is easy to explain – all sense organs and the brain are not able to instantly accept, analyze, process, and, most importantly, keep in memory all the information about the object, object, phenomenon that they receive. Therefore, they “snatch” familiar signs, considering them to be key, and on the basis of their “dorisovyvayut” the overall picture.

As a rule, all the differences from reality are in the difference of data that they did not receive, but “came up”. Most interestingly, in a different situation, the same subject or phenomenon can be treated in completely different ways.

The auditory illusions are considered the second most important factor contributing to the appearance of an illusory perception of reality in a person.It is due to the fact that receiving a signal about the arrival of someone sound, the brain, first of all, tries to “establish” its source, for which it also uses the previously obtained experience. And the first thing that the brain “clarifies” is the distance to the source of sound.

With erroneous conclusions, a person perceives strong noise from afar, like a whisper in the ear, and vice versa. Almost every person at least once in his life took the murmur of water in the kitchen, or the “wheezing” of the tap for the conversation of unknown people. Especially brightly this illusion arises at night, in the dark, when a person is relaxed and has no visual orientation to the source of sound.

The world of man's illusions

Cognitive or psychological illusions play a much larger role in a person’s life than he knows about it. The fact is that illusions of this type are created on erroneous thinking and patterns, with the participation of an element of previous knowledge, that is, the effect of prejudice, and the role of such illusions is purely adaptive. In other words, a person does not have the ability to think when perceiving events, this process happens automatically.

In addition, a person who has an illusion, decides that a similar situation has already occurred, and acts in a similar way. Cognitive illusions include several types of illusory perception, the main one of which is the effect of a behavioral stereotype.

It can be attributed to the effect of “common opinion” – that is, the stereotype of thinking of others. Also to the psychological illusions are the erroneous opinion of the confirmation from the series “everyone thinks so.” Psychological illusory perceptions of reality psychologists call an erroneous assessment of the situation, for example, by the type of “this I will not survive.” In such cases, too, the psychology of illusion interferes, that is, the expectation of the unknown, which is always frightening, so the person pre-sets an illusory barrier.

The effect of acquaintance is very common, it’s no wonder that in former times it was customary to communicate only with a person whom someone familiar knew represented. That is, regardless of his personal qualities, this person is immediately perceived favorably.


A lot of psychological illusions are based on probabilities and belief (for example, in omens). Psychologists are well aware of the observation factor, in which a person begins to behave a little differently than he would have done alone with himself. This effect is called Hawthorne, and the most striking example is the behavior of children in the presence of parents, employees in the presence of the chief, participants in any experiments.

The world of man's illusions

The effect of Hawthorne is a situation in which interest in an experiment, an event, or increased attention to some issue leads to an erroneous, distorted, unduly favorable result. Participants of the event behave differently, more diligently than they are intrinsic, only at the expense of realizing that they are involved in the event, or when watching them.

The psychological illusion of correlation, the erroneous relationship that arises between specific events, phenomena and results is very interesting. Almost all the people’s signs refer to this effect – almost every person knows what to do if the black cat crossed the road so that there was no misfortune.

Also, students and schoolchildren are sure of many signs (to eat a lilac flower with 5 petals, put a penny under the heel, etc.). Interestingly, if a person does not know what “threatens” him, for example, a meeting with a woman carrying an empty bucket, nothing will happen to him.

The illusion of memory (cryptomnesia) is of great importance for creating illusions in the ordinary life of a person, which is a confusion in one’s own memories and eyewitness accounts. So, for example, adults often confuse their childhood memories with the mother’s story, taking it for their own memory. A variation of this phenomenon is the effect of retrospective distortion – in the performance of an event, it often seems to the person that he foresaw it.

The proverb that there is nothing worse than waiting and catching up is based on the illusion of time. This phenomenon is known to everyone, time flies by unnoticed when a person is well, and stretches forever, when he is bored and uninteresting. This can be interpreted as the fact that, with active pastime, all thoughts are focused on current events, and vice versa.

The placebo phenomenon can be imagined as focusing a person’s perception on the certainty of what is happening, for example, patients take inoffensive vitamins, knowing that it is an antibiotic, and begin to recover. Practically all doctors and psychologists know that the effectiveness of such a phenomenon (actually, illusions) is very high.

Nocebo is a phenomenon in which a person’s consciousness, analyzing what is happening, “gives out” the definition of this situation. For example, if a person feels nauseated and dizzy, remembers that he was eating mushrooms before, he immediately assures himself that he has poisoned himself. But, most interestingly, this is the opposite phenomenon – if a person is convinced that he ate a poisoned substance, he immediately begins to feel all the attendant signs of this state.

Widely known in medicine as the phenomenon of “imaginary” pregnancy, also refers to nocebo. There are cases when hypochondriacs have pushed themselves to the present disease, finding signs of certain diseases that do not exist in their reality.

The world of man's illusions

The effect of psychogenic purpura, or, more simply, Munchausen’s syndrome, occurs in life very often – the desire to attract attention by any means. People deliberately induce symptoms of diseases known to them, and they constantly demand from doctors more and more powerful medicines.

This kind of illusion is caused almost always by insecurity, lack of self-sufficiency and unsettledness in life. Most often they suffer from people with unstable psyche, and the line between pathology and ordinary illusion in these cases is very thin.

Unusually interesting from the point of view of illusions is the well-known “Stockholm Syndrome”. For a long time, psychologists did not correlate with illusory perception, and considered this to be a consequence of traumatic psychological stress. And only recently, the experiments of many scientists have confirmed the direct connection of this phenomenon with the psychological illusion of perception.

The sympathy that arises from the victim and the intruder is caused by an incorrect assessment of the situation when, after a long conversation, both reject the reasons that brought them together, and begin to sympathize with each other.

Illusions also include phantom pains – after an amputation of a limb, a person continues to feel it. In this case, he feels it in the condition in which it was before amputation, that is, all the pain and unpleasant sensations in this limb.

Another illusory phenomenon, often encountered in life, is synaesthesia. This phenomenon is a combination of feelings, in the absence of one of them. For example, the kind of picture with birds can cause the sound of their singing, after which, when singing, a previously seen picture may appear before the eyes of a person. At sounds of a surf at many people in a mouth there is an aftertaste of the sea.

Some particularly impressionable people see numbers or letters in different colors. And musical notes can be associated with a certain color. Psychologists believe that the concept of “goosebumps” when frightened or when viewing a scary movie, a read book, also apply to synaesthesia.

The world of man's illusions

Joint experiments of doctors and psychologists allowed to give a more precise definition of the causes of such illusions of sensation and imagination. This is due to the presence of physiological connections (bridges) between the auditory and optic nerves. Today it is called a “color hearing”. In literature and life, this is expressed by established metaphors – crimson ringing, green melancholy, warm meeting, etc.

The view that illusions are a harmful and contrived phenomenon that adversely affects a person’s life is erroneous.Just like the opinion that illusions are peculiar to unhealthy or very impressionable people. Most of the illusions are based on completely logical features of the human body, they need to be treated as any psychological manifestation of character. The only thing is to know that they exist, and be prepared for their manifestations.



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