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writing for godot

HALLUCINATIONS ARE A MYTH

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Written by William M Erlbaum   
Thursday, 31 August 2017 09:38
The concept of "hallucination" has been defined in different ways, including:

"a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind;
"an experience in which you see, hear, feel, or smell something that does not exist;
"perception of visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or gustatory stimuli in the absence of any external objects or events and with a compelling sense of their reality;
"A hallucination is a sensation or sensory perception that a person experiences in the absence of a relevant external stimulus;
"The definition of a hallucination is something that someone sees or imagines that is not really there;
"the perception of an object or event (in any of the 5 senses) in the absence of an external stimulus;
"Hallucinations are sensations that appear to be real but are created within the mind. Examples include seeing things that are not there, hearing voices or other sounds, experiencing body sensations like crawling feelings on the skin, or smelling odors that are not there"

At bottom, then, hallucinations appear to come down to experiences that seem real but are created by and within the mind and do not exist outside of the mind.

For the purpose of this essay, I will place my full reliance upon the common sense position, what has been called the naive realist position, that beyond each human mind, and outside of our minds, there exists a real world of objects and events. Included therein as parts of that real world of objects and events, are each human mind and the experienced events of the bearers of each of those minds. I will not be relying upon or utilizing the solipsism paradigm, which contends that everything comes down to mind and that there is no reason to believe that there exists any world beyond one's consciousness.

That said, if I experience floaters and flashes, which my opthamologist informs me occur in some older people as an accompaniment of vitreous contraction, neither my opthamologist nor anybody else can experience my floaters and flashes, but I alone experience them, and they are not hallucinations. They are a part of my experience alone, of my consciousness alone, something in my mind if you will, but they do not exist outside of my mind.

Floaters and flashes are disturbing experiences. If we had no such field as opthamology, and had no such concept as vitreous contraction, might it not be suggested that my floaters and flashes are hallucinations and that perhaps I have a so-called "mental disorder" like "schizophrenia"? While I cannot exclude the expression of such an evaluation as a theoretically possible utterance, I suggest that such a claim, based solely upon my disturbing mental experience, without a known cause, would be entirely gratuitous, a non sequitur.

Likewise, that I heard my mother today - she died in 1977, or tasted the icing on the cake that's not in the room, could not possibly be hallucinations, for it could never be reasonably concluded that my mother's voice and the taste of the icing on the cake were created by and within my mind and had not existed outside of my mind. Extrinsic to my mind and in the real world of events and objects, I would have had to have been taught the concept of "mother" and to have been introduced to my mother. I would have had to have learned about voices and to have originally heard my mother's voice, learned the meaning of "icing" and of "cake", been introduced to the taste of icing, and to have remembered all of that, in order to have heard my mother today or tasted the icing.

While what produced my hearing my mother today, or my tasting the icing on the cake, pose intriguing questions for analysis and investigation, hallucinations are not in the picture. Like the luminiferous ether, they utterly fail to provide material for developing an edifice of "mental disorder" or "schizophrenia".
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0 # bread and butter 2017-09-07 16:56
Floaters and flashes are caused by physically real objects outside your mind. Floaters are tiny particles literally floating around in your intraocular fluid. The Flashers are the result of cones or rods misfiring, probably due to some damage to your retina.
 
 
0 # BrotherBill 2017-09-08 18:44
This "bread and butter" comment appears to be redundant. The essay plainly acknowledges the anatomical and physiological context in which floaters and flashes are experienced and focuses upon that experience qua experience, noting that it is not an hallucination.
 

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