Hallucinations and Hallucinogens : Psychopathology or Wisdom?

Hallucinations are currently associated almost exclusively with psychopathological states. While it is evident that hallucinations can indicate psychopathology or neurological disorders, we should remember that hallucinations also commonly occur in people without any signs of psychopathology. A similar case occurs in the case of hallucinogenic drugs, which have been long associated with psychopathology and insanity. However, during the last decades a huge body of research has shown that certain kinds of hallucinations, exerted by hallucinogenic drugs, may serve to improve mental health.



We propose that, in light of historical, epidemiological, and scientific research, hallucinations can be better characterized as a common phenomenon associated sometimes with psychopathology but also with functional and even beneficial outcomes. In the last sections of the manuscript, we extend our argument, suggesting that hallucinations can offer a via regia to knowledge of the mind and the world. This radical shift in the cultural interpretation of hallucinations could have several implications for fields such as drug policy, civil law, and psychiatry, as well as for the stigma associated with mental disorders.

José Carlos Bouso, Genís Ona, Maja Kohek, Rafael G. dos Santos, Jaime E. C. Hallak, Miguel Ángel Alcázar‑Córcoles and Joan Obiols‑Llandrich | 2023
In: Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry ; ISSN: 0165-005X | 47 | 576–604
DOI: 10.1007/s11013-022-09814-0
Cultural Values, Epidemiology, Hallucinations, Hallucinogenic Drugs, Mental health, Neurological Symptoms, Psychopathology, Research, Stigma