Hallucinations and delusions

An avalanche of linguistically relevant cartoons this morning. I’ll pick out a few individually, then post a collection. First, an old Doonesbury, relevant to one of the occasions of the week in my house, the anniversary of my husband-equivalent Jacques’s death in 2003; the relevance will soon become clear.

Uncle Duke (a character based on Hunter S. Thompson, of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas fame) is in fact coming out, more or less, from a bad acid trip; he hallucinates fearful lizards and talks to them.

For some years, until he died, Jacques suffered from hallucinations, both visual (he saw distorted versions of things, including seeing things that weren’t there at all; unlike Duke, what he saw was mostly innocuous, sometimes even pleasant) and auditory (he heard things that weren’t there, apparently from distorted interpretations of sounds in the environment — and these were almost always threatening, even terrifying); he also suffered from delusions, false beliefs about the world, for him mostly having to do with where he was located (very rarely California, where he was in fact living for the last five years of his life, but instead what the rest of us came to think of as New Ohiolvania — an amalgam of places in Ohio and Pennsylvia, plus some New Jersey).

From this blog in 2010:

My husband-equivalent Jacques went through a long period where he heard voices (and saw things, too) — sometimes voices saying comprehensible dreadful things, like that they were going to kill [my/our daughter] Elizabeth, but often just producing a buzz of undifferentiated menace. He was terrified, and so was I.

I realized at the time that the mechanisms that give rise to auditory and visual hallucinations are a topic of considerable scientific interest. But, still, the descent of night [when the auditory hallucinations were most powerful] was not a happy time.

For a brief (but very complex) medical history for Jacques, see this file, which includes a summary account of an affliction of his that set in in 1995:

peri-ictal schizophreniform-like psychosis, characterized by auditory hallucinations (at first set off by noises in the background, like a passing airplane, reinterpreted as voices; later spontaneous, but still involving voices), vivid and elaborate by 1996; delusions; and visual hallucinations beginning in 1998 (apparently largely a result of scotomas, which he coped with by wallpapering or filling in with entire scenes)

For more detailed notes on Jacques and his linguistic abilities in decline, see this file.

2 Responses to “Hallucinations and delusions”

  1. Four for the fourth | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] brought me six suitable cartoons for this blog. Two I have already posted about: a Doonesbury with Duke hallucinating a lizard; and a Bizarro with a diner asking for eggs without any sense of style. The others: a One […]

  2. Ralph Steadman | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] the previous installment, Duke was hallucinating a talking lizard (right out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which is […]

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