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The emergence of verbal illusions (from Lat.verbalis - oral, verbal) is based on conversations actually occurring around a person, the sound of speech, and sound stimuli acting on a sick person are perceived by him in a completely different form, as a rule, in threatening tones.
In other words, illusions of an auditory nature, which contain individual words spoken by accident by someone who is next to a sick person, or spoken phrases, are called verbal.
The phenomenon of vivid, obsessive, constantly emerging verbal illusions psychiatrists designate "illusory hallucinosis." Their appearance is possible against the background of a painful, altered affective state, when anxiety or fear occurs, 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 a conversation heard by a sick person, as a rule, is perceived as a threat, accusation, swearing directed exclusively at him.
For example, auditory illusions are characteristic of patients suffering from persecution delusions or jealous mania. A patient with chronic alcoholism may eavesdrop on the conversation of his wife with strangers, and internally fearing confirmation of punishment or betrayal, "hears" exactly this in the conversation.
Auditory (verbal) illusions can arise not only with the sounds of speech, but also in the form of non-speech deceptions, such as hiss, noises (cranes, for example), individual sounds (shots, noises of the surf). If a person hears one voice, then we are talking about monovocal auditory illusions, if two voices - about dialogue, three or more - speak about polyvocal illusions.
The origins of the mechanism of illusions, including verbal ones (as well as hallucinations), have not yet been fully studied, therefore, the reasons that cause these phenomena, manifested in illusions, that is, violations of the active, but very selective nature of a person's perception of certain 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 symptomatology are an illusion (in this case, a verbal phenomenon) - an incorrect assessment of the signal-information received from an organ of hearing, and hallucination - a violation of perception. At the same time, in the hearing organs (analyzers), the interpretation of a false (imaginary) perception of a non-existent, incomprehensible (unheard) information message by the hearing organs is considered to be a real event.
At the initial stage of a person's perception of any phenomenon, there is a sensation, during which individual qualities, properties of an object, images or phenomena are identified. Feeling has power, quality, place and sensory color.
The combination of several types of sensations makes up the perception of something. As a result of this, an associative series of representations arises in the brain, which are imprinted in memory, and can be restored in consciousness at any moment.
Representations arise by themselves without the presence of a stimulus, and perception is the process of reflecting images or phenomena of reality when they act on the receptors of feelings. The correctness or fallacy of the process of perception is in direct proportion to the state of physical functions (consciousness, hearing, attention, the possibility of analysis, etc.).
Perceptual disorders, the emergence of verbal illusions are classified 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 senestopathies, etc.).
Some healthy people who experience such phenomena as verbal illusions are subject to the so-called attitude, in other words, their perception is distorted under the influence of perceptions preceding the illusion's appearance. Psychologist D. N. Uznadze studied this phenomenon in healthy people, who created his own school on this issue.
The famous Canadian neurosurgeon W. Penfield, who caused visual and auditory hallucinations and illusions during operations associated with epilepsy, supported the same point of view by electrically stimulating parts of the occipital and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex.
Doctors and psychologists believe that the manifestation of verbal illusions is a much more complex process than affective (mental) visual illusions. This is due to the fact that this process consists in the fact that the patient, in the noise of sounds and voices, in foreign neutral speech, hears words or whole phrases directed at him, that is, having a direct relation to him. And, most importantly, they, as a rule, coincide in the plot of what is happening or in their content with the affective and delusional torments and experiences of the patient.
In all these cases, the person is sure that he "hears" what was not said in reality. This interpretation of him 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 a person an integral (mistakenly recognized) auditory image, while , its content completely depends on the specific state of the person at that moment. Psychiatrists take it as an axiom that verbal illusions, as a rule, become the basis for the formation of the patient's delusional mood.
In some cases of verbal phenomena, these can be calls discernible in the actually existing noise and sound of voices (they must be distinguished from calls of a hallucinatory nature), and in others, they are directly verbal illusions, which are often very difficult to distinguish from the so-called illusions of a patient's delirium human.
It is very difficult to differentiate in these cases three fundamentally different phenomena. Doctors refer to these phenomena:
- delusional or overvalued (erroneous interpretation of the patient) interpretation of words actually heard in a crowd of people, scraps of phrases and full sentences, and incorrectly attributed by the sick person to their own account;
- illusory processing (interpretation) of really really heard words, sounds with their perception by the patient in the form of other words and phrases corresponding to his specific mood in 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, gustatory, and olfactory deviations. Sometimes the role of affect (psychogenic state) causing verbal illusions is played by the concept of delusion, leading to affectation. After that, indirectly, through her, she leads to verbal illusions that arise, 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 during the day (almost always). Some phases of psychotic states are characterized by the fact that patients independently clearly determine their position - with their eyes closed, they feel the phenomena of visual deception, and with open eyes, they “hear” the conversations and voices of people outside the window, negotiating the upcoming reprisals against them.
At the same time, doctors accurately distinguish between verbal illusions and delusional ideas of relationships. When delirium appears, the patient really hears the speech of the people around him correctly, but at the same time he is completely 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 (unclear music coming from afar, rain noise, etc.). However, the difference between such phenomena in a healthy person from a patient is that they do not have a violation of the moment of correct recognition 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 was given by the American scientist William James in his book "Psychiatry": "One day, late at night, I was sitting and reading; suddenly a terrible noise came from the top of the house, stopped and then, a minute later, the words resumed, I went out into the hall, to listen to the noise, but it did not repeat itself. As soon as I had time to return to my room and sit down at the book, an alarming, loud noise rose again, as if before the storm began. It came from everywhere. Extremely alarmed, I went out into the hall again, and again the noise stopped. Returning a second time to my room, I suddenly discovered that the noise was made by its snoring of a small dog sleeping on the floor. Curiously enough, once I discovered the true cause of the noise, I could no longer, in spite of everything efforts to renew the old illusion. "
That is, by his observation, he confirmed that if the consciousness of a healthy person for some reason took it 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 goes away.