Lady F & Dr. Mariana Discussing Imagination and Hallucinations

Hello Lady F,

These days I came across a topic on imagination and its types. It turned out there were three categories of imagination – creative, fantastical and episodic.

Creative imagination was the hardest one – like composing an opera or discovering a scientific breakthrough. It’s the least possible to be acquired by most people since this is almost genius’s gift.

Fantastical imagination had to do with very vivid pictures in your mind that follow certain scenario and could lead to writing a novel or making a movie. So this was most artists’ visionary of the world.

Episodic imagination was one to deal with a short period of intensive image building in mind which most people usually have but are unaware of. Like trying to find their way in a town by calling in their minds pictures of the specific place as a cinematographic memory.

I was wondering if only those three were enough to describe the different happenings of imagination. What about prophecy imagination which medicine calls hallucinations? Is it a great gift or a curse for those who sense extremely and can tell more of the future in opposition to scientific prognosis?

Dear Dr. Mariana,

That’s quite an interesting psychological query – imagination and hallucinations. Both are a strong experience of what is not there at all. In the case of hallucinations – people perceive them as real, and this is a severe distinction. Let’s go with the dictionary definitions:

  1. Imagination is the faculty of forming new ideas, concepts, or images of external objects not present to the senses.
  2. Hallucination is an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present.

Let’s delve into our knowledge in both phenomena. The definitions you provided us with: creative, fantastical and episodic all pertain to mind-blowing creativity – the kind displayed by Van-Gogh’s pictures, or Einstein’s scientific theories. Einstein himself said: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.”

Creative people do a lot of things differently. They daydream and observe the world carefully, they seek new experiences, ask big questions and follow their true passions. They see with their eyes, but they also see with their brain. About ten percent of the hearing-impeded people have music hallucinations – so did Beethoven who had sort of a classical radio in the brain.

In the discussion of hallucinations, contemporary science is rather barefoot. It claims, however, that there is a connection between dopamine production and creativity. Dopamine is the hormone most responsible for different kinds of hallucinations. It is also known as the “hormone of being in love,” and we associate this neurotransmitter with “reward.”

So yeah! Creativity and mental illness might very well coincide. The origin of the word hallucination comes from the Latin alucinari, meaning to wander in mind.

Blessed or cursed? That’s another very appealing question. I guess it quite depends on the personality. When life gives us lemons, some of us make lemonade…In many cases – even with what people call “a mental disability” you can lead a normal and productive life.

Shamans were the most powerful people of their time – they were oracles, healers and a spirit advisor in one – something like contemporary shrinks. Their job was to correspond with the world of spirits and sometimes communicate with other worlds. Their practices are older than all the existing religions and appear even in the Neolith. People say that poets are the shamans of the word.

So hallucinating can have perks as well. You are the manager of an internal world. Perceptions abound – as if you have a second life… Psychotic hallucinations, whether they are visual or vocal, they address you-you interact with them. You are the manager of an internal kingdom, but it is not advisable to let it rule your world. On the contrary – you are challenged to harness this alternative reality, and not talk about it with other people because it is very intimate.


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