Monday, March 19, 2012

Tripping Balls

A quick post while I'm on the road climbing. This study of over 13,000 subjects shows amazingly high rates for hallucinations in the general public. The implications for the advent and persistence of religion is obvious:

Prevalence of hallucinations and their pathological associations in the general population

Psychiatry Research
Volume 97, Issue 2 , Pages 153-164, 27 December 2000

Hallucinations are perceptual phenomena involved in many fields of pathology. Although clinically widely explored, studies in the general population of these phenomena are scant. This issue was investigated using representative samples of the non-institutionalized general population of the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy aged 15 years or over (N=13057). These surveys were conducted by telephone and explored mental disorders and hallucinations (visual, auditory, olfactory, haptic and gustatory hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations). Overall, 38.7% of the sample reported hallucinatory experiences (19.6% less than once in a month; 6.4% monthly; 2.7% once a week; and 2.4% more than once a week). These hallucinations occurred, (1) At sleep onset (hypnagogic hallucinations 24.8%) and/or upon awakening (hypnopompic hallucinations 6.6%), without relationship to a specific pathology in more than half of the cases; frightening hallucinations were more often the expression of sleep or mental disorders such as narcolepsy, OSAS or anxiety disorders. (2) During the daytime and reported by 27% of the sample: visual (prevalence of 3.2%) and auditory (0.6%) hallucinations were strongly related to a psychotic pathology (respective OR of 6.6 and 5.1 with a conservative estimate of the lifetime prevalence of psychotic disorders in this sample of 0.5%); and to anxiety (respective OR of 5.0 and 9.1). Haptic hallucinations were reported by 3.1% with current use of drugs as the highest risk factor (OR=9.8). In conclusion, the prevalence of hallucinations in the general population is not negligible. Daytime visual and auditory hallucinations are associated with a greater risk of psychiatric disorders. The other daytime sensory hallucinations are more related to an organic or a toxic disorder.


Sabio Lantz said...

When I began my blog I was taken off guard by how self-righteous many atheists were about the stupid hallucinations of theists. But I was an atheist, and I had lots of hallucinations. I wrote about some of them here in order to show atheists that the issue is not the hallucinations, but how you act on them. Then similarly, my experiences can show theists that their religiosity may just be hallucinations.

You should take a poll on your site to see how many readers have had hallucinations.

Sabio Lantz said...

I don't see an option to follow comments by e-mail. Am I missing something? Without it, I won't know to come back and look.

Westley said...

Adding bereavement hallucinations and liars implies most people are frying. Considering fallacious folk psychology and heuristics as well as general ignorance and popular disdain for reason it's not just a new Dark Age, its a zombie apocalypse. At least the advent of the middle ages saw a respect for logic through Catholocism, refined by ascetics and defended by knights. Today we are lacking both.

We have the products of their efforts--psychology and logic--but modern people are too selfish to consider the help of others, as they do not do the same themselves. They see compassion as quixotic and logic as fiction, mental illness as personality, and evil as relative. The hallucinations are taken as real, and lack the "that's the devil"-ness of the past. New Agers see them as part of a holistic awareness, without qualification. This is worse than barbarism as the effects are global and the belief structures far more refined by misuse of science and philosophy. What we need are Jedi...

William said...

Conflating hypnagogic hallucinations, which are a form of disordered dreaming, with the 6% of the population that has pathological hallucinosis is like calling daydreaming psychosis. Just don't believe it.