Occurrence of verbal illusions (from Latin verbalis – oral, verbal) is based on really conversations around the person, the sound of speech, and the sound stimuli acting on the sick person are perceived by them in a completely different form, usually in menacing tones.
In other words, the illusions of auditory character, which contain individual words spoken by someone who is near the sick person, or spoken phrases, are called verbal.
The phenomenon of bright, obsessive, constantly arising verbal illusions psychiatrists call “an illusory hallucinosis.” Their appearance is possible against a background of a painful, altered affective state, with the appearance of anxiety or fear, and quite often they are accompanied by a delusional interpretation of the content.
Due to the fact that these phenomena are based on fear and affect, the meaning of the heard conversation by a sick person is usually perceived as a threat, accusation, swearing directed solely at him.
For example, auditory illusions are characteristic of patients suffering from delusions of persecution or mania of jealousy. A patient with chronic alcoholism, can overhear the conversation of the wife with outsiders, and internally afraid of confirmation of punishment or treason, “hears” it exactly in conversation.
Auditory (verbal) illusions can arise not only with the sounds of speech, but also in the form of non-verbal deceptions, such as hissing, noises (cranes, for example), individual sounds (shots, surf noises). If a person hears one voice, then it is a question of monovocal auditory illusions, if two voices – about dialogue, three or more – talk about polyvocal illusions.
The origins of the mechanism of illusions, including verbal (as well as hallucinations), have not been fully studied to the present day, therefore the causes that cause these phenomena to manifest themselves under illusions, that is, the disturbance of the active but very selective character of human perception of those or other sounds, are not yet clear enough.
To perceive a defect (with negative symptoms), it is necessary to realize that perception for a person is the primary source of information (for all his mental activity), and at the slightest violation, the perception signal is distorted.
Perceptions in positive symptoms are an illusion (in this case, a verbal phenomenon) – an incorrect evaluation of the signal-information received from the hearing organ, and a hallucination – a violation of perception. At the same time in the hearing organs (analyzers) interpretation of false (imaginary) perception of the non-existent, incomprehensible (unheard) by the hearing organs of the information message is considered to be a real event.
In the initial stage of a person’s perception of any phenomenon lies a sensation, during which the individual qualities, properties of an object, images or phenomena are revealed. The sensation has power, quality, a certain place and a sensual color.
The combination of several types of sensations is the perception of something. As a result, an associative series of representations appears in the brain, which are imprinted in memory, and can be restored at any time in consciousness.
Representations arise by themselves without the presence of an irritant, and perception is the process of reflecting images or phenomena of reality when they are influenced by the receptors of the senses. The correctness or error of the process of perception is directly dependent on the state of the physical functions (consciousness, hearing, attention, analysis, etc.).
Perceptual disorders, the occurrence of verbal illusions, experts classify according to the sense organ, to which this particular distorted information belongs – in this case, as auditory hallucinations (there are visual hallucinations, tactile hallucinations or hairspotii, etc.).
Some healthy people experiencing such phenomena as verbal illusions are subject to a so-called installation, in other words, their distortion of perception arises under the influence of the preceding immediately before the appearance of illusion, perception. This phenomenon in healthy people engaged in a psychologist DN Uznadze, who created on this issue his own school.
Supported by the same point of view and the famous Canadian neurosurgeon V. Penfield, which caused visual and auditory hallucinations and illusions during operations associated with epilepsy, with the help of electrical stimulation of the areas of the occipital and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex.
Doctors and psychologists believe that manifestations of verbal illusions are a process much more complex than affective (mental) illusions of a visual nature. This is due to the fact that this process consists in the fact that the patient, in the noise of sounds and voices, in the neutral neutral speech, hears words or whole phrases aimed at him, that is, having a direct relation to him. And, most importantly, they tend to coincide in the story of what is happening or in their content with the affective and delirious agony and experiences of the patient.
In all these cases, a person is sure that he “hears” something that in reality has not been said. This interpretation of it is a verbal illusion, which is directly related to the fact that individual sounds, which are auditory stimuli, are “constructed” by his consciousness into meaningful words, sometimes into a whole speech, which creates for the person a holistic (mistakenly recognized) auditory image, while , its content is completely dependent on the concrete state of the person at that moment. Specialists psychiatrists assume for the axiom that verbal illusions, as a rule, become the basis for forming the mood of a sick delusional character.
In some cases of verbal phenomena, it may be hailsticks that are discernible in the actual noise and sound of voices (it is necessary to distinguish them from hallucinatory characters), and in others they are directly verbal illusions, which are often very difficult to distinguish from so-called illusions delusions of a sick person.
Differentiate in these cases three fundamentally different phenomena is very difficult. To these phenomena doctors include:
– delusional or overvalued (erroneous interpretation of the patient) interpretation of the words actually heard in the congregation of people, scraps of phrases and complete sentences, and wrongly attributed to their sick person at their own expense;
– illusory processing (interpretation) of really heard words, sounds with perception of their patients in the form of other words and phrases corresponding to its specific mood at a given period of time;
– a verbal hallucination (not an illusion), due to the crowd of sounds arising in the noise (true, real or functional).
Experiences of this type (illusions) can arise not only of a verbal nature, but also in the form of visual, taste, and olfactory deviations. Sometimes the role of affect (psychogenic state), which causes verbal illusions, is played by the concept of delusion, which leads to affectation. Then, indirectly, through it, it leads to verbal illusions, arising, now, on the basis of delirium.
With the onset of darkness (evening, night), the intensity of illusions of a different nature increases, while verbal illusions can persist in the daytime (almost always). Some phases of psychotic states are characterized by the fact that the patients independently determine their position clearly – with closed eyes they perceive the phenomena of visual illusions, and with their eyes open they “hear” conversations and voices of people outside the window, negotiating aimed at the forthcoming massacre of them.
In this case, doctors accurately distinguish verbal illusions and delusions of ideas of relationships. In the event of delusions, the patient actually hears the speech of the surrounding people correctly, but he is absolutely convinced that it contains threats and hints directed at him.
Verbal illusions can arise in healthy people, under the influence of an excited mood, inattention, and under certain conditions (vague music, rain, etc., coming from afar). However, the difference between similar phenomena in a healthy person from a patient is that they do not violate the moment of correct identification of sound stimuli, because a healthy person has enough opportunities to check the correctness of the sensation (auditory illusion) and clarify the first erroneous impression.
An interesting example of such a phenomenon is given by the American scientist William James in his book Psychiatry: “One day, I sat and read late at night, suddenly a terrible noise came from the top of the house, stopped and then, in a minute, the words resumed, I went out into the hall to listen to the noise, but he did not repeat there. “As soon as I managed to get back to my room and sit down at the book, there was an alarming, strong noise again, just before the storm began, it came from everywhere. again went into the hall, and again the noise ceased. When I came back to my room for the second time, I suddenly discovered that the noise was produced by my snoring little dog that slept on the floor, curious that once I discovered the true cause of the noise, I could not, despite all my efforts, resume the old illusion “.
That is, by his observation he confirmed that if the consciousness of a healthy person for some reason took for a reality that the sound source is located in the distance, then it seems much louder, but when the real source is established, the illusion disappears.