What hallucination reveals about our minds

In the last weeks of my father’s life he told me about a man who would come into his house at night and lay down in the bed next to him.  Frightened, he would call the authorities.  

It was the first of many hallucinations, some benign, many terrifying, he experienced before he passed.  I learned it was futile to try to convince him that what he saw hadn’t been real.  I wish I had heard this TedTalk to help me better understand what was happening.

Oliver Sacks has passed but his experiences, wisdom and compassion remains with us in his talks and books.  You might know about him from Robin Williams portrayal in the Movie Awakenings.  Take a look and listen to Dr. Sacks’ TedTalk:

“Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnet syndrome — when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations. He describes the experiences of his patients in heartwarming detail and walks us through the biology of this under-reported phenomenon.”


8 comments on “What hallucination reveals about our minds

  1. What a frightening experience to witness, and it must have been even more so for your father. No wonder he wanted to call for help, and you were most likely unable to offer what he needed. Unlikely anyone could have. So very sorry for your dad’s last days. We all want to go in peace.

    I’ll come back to see the Ted Talk when I have a bit more time.


    • Shari,
      It was frightening for my father and unsettling for me seeing him deteriorate. But then again you have had more than your share of being a participant in helplessly watching a parent become someone you don’t recognize.

      Do watch the TedTalk when you have time. I found it very interesting and a treat to hear Dr Sacks.


    • Jacqui,
      In my study of the Baha’i World Faith I’ve come to believe that even as all humans are connected so are humans connected to the spiritual realm. There are so many things in this vast universe we can’t “see” or understand but are waiting to be discovered. I believe what you experience is not an hallucination. ENJOY!


  2. Thanx for this fascinating look into the human brain. I LOVE TED talks – I have learned so much through watching them. I have to admit, I find them a bit addicting and can spend a LOT of time watching one after another. I hope others who are not familiar with them will investigate the website and learn more also.


    • Lyn,
      I love the TedTalks too. Had to wean myself off a year or two back because they can take up valuable walk-the-doggie-time! This one caught my attention because I think Oliver Sacks is as fascinating at TED.


  3. I just watched Oliver Sacks explain the Charles Bonnet syndrome – incredible that the brain will recreate a visual world for a blind person, and that there are patterns of repetition.
    And now you know what I do at 2 AM. No wonder I can’t sleep.


    • Shari,
      This brain we are all carrying around in our skulls is a God given miracle. The research that is in its infancy continues to astound Peggy and me.
      xx jw
      You are probably more productive at 2 am than most people I know. I used to be a night owl and could stay up all night . . . no more. However, I still am more alert at midnight than at noon.


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