Hallucinations in the psychotic state: Psychoanalysis and the neurosciences compared.

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Hallucinations in the psychotic state: Psychoanalysis and the neurosciences compared.

Int J Psychoanal. 2014 Oct 18;

Authors: De Masi F, Davalli C, Giustino G, Pergami A

In this contribution, which takes account of important findings in neuroscientific as well as psychoanalytic research, the authors explore the meaning of the deep-going distortions of psychic functioning occurring in hallucinatory phenomena. Neuroscientific studies have established that hallucinations distort the sense of reality owing to a complex alteration in the balance between top-down and bottom-up brain circuits. The present authors postulate that hallucinatory phenomena represent the outcome of a psychotic’s distorted use of the mind over an extended period of time. In the hallucinatory state the psychotic part of the personality uses the mind to generate auto-induced sensations and to achieve a particular sort of regressive pleasure. In these cases, therefore, the mind is not used as an organ of knowledge or as an instrument for fostering relationships with others. The hallucinating psychotic decathects psychic (relational) reality and withdraws into a personal, bodily, and sensory space of his own. The opposing realities are not only external and internal but also psychic and sensory. Visual hallucinations could thus be said to originate from seeing with the ‘eyes’ of the mind, and auditory hallucinations from hearing with the mind’s ‘ears’. In these conditions, mental functioning is restricted, cutting out the more mature functions, which are thus no longer able to assign real meaning to the surrounding world and to the subject’s psychic experience. The findings of the neurosciences facilitate understanding of how, in the psychotic hallucinatory process, the mind can modify the working of a somatic organ such as the brain.

PMID: 25327380 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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