Rethinking Learning
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Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Visualizing Hallucinations
By Barbara Bray    September 17, 2009 -- 09:23 AM

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnett 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.

How does this only happen with visually impaired people? He mentioned that the hearing impaired have hallucinations including music. I find this very interesting and wonder what these hallucinations mean. If you lose one of your senses, then it becomes more heightened and sensitive. Does this happen with people born blind or deaf? As a physician, Dr. Sacks mentioned that 10% of visually impaired see these hallucinations but only 1% acknowledge them because they don't want to appear mad.

Have you had a dream or nightmare that wakes you up? Temporal lobe dreams are more what most of us have that might include people we know.

More on the Charles Bonnett syndrome, Wikipedia reference, and a biography.

Categories: "Hallucinations" "Brain" "Biology" "Phenomenon" "Blindness" "Charles Bonnett Syndrome"

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By small Valerie Bebee      September 20, 2009 -- 02:57 PM

Interesting clip, thank you for sharing.  I am going to look into the Charles Bonnett Syndrome as I made some connections so you've piqued my curiosity.

You asked, does this happen with people born blind or deaf.  Do you know yet?  Have you delved more into this syndrome?

Unless I missed it, Oliver Sacks didn't say how LONG the visions lasted.  I wondered that based on what I'm going to share next.

I have known people who were not visually or hearing impaired, other than perhaps needing glasses, that have told me of hallucinations they have had; seeing things in the corner of their eyes and turning towards them but then they vanish; having a weird flash, generally a seasonal occurrence, that somehow they are removed from reality (almost like an out of body experience) right in the middle of a conversation with someone, and wondered if others around them noticed it too. Others didn't notice.  These people were all suspected to be mildly bipolar, or adhd, as the symptoms for both mimic each other.  I wondered while watching this if there was a connection. 

As a child and pre-teen, I swore I could hear music in my imagination and turn it up or down so I'd hear it louder or softer...... I can no longer do that. The ability vanished somewhere in my 20's. I figured it was a stifling of my imagination.  Reminds me of the song, Logical, by, I think it was SuperTramp.

Oliver Sacks said there was no connection to memory or emotions, which I assumed was true at first, and I therefore assumed that the seemingly non-sensical visions had some sort of symbolism; Kermet meant SOMETHING.  But then what about people who have them that have been born blind or deaf (if they indeed do), and the people I mentioned? 

What say you?



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