Tactile hallucination

Tactile hallucination

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

False perception of movement or sensation, as from an amputated limb, or crawling sensation on the skin.

Tactile hallucinations can present in a number of different ways. One of the most common of these is phantom limb. When people lose a limb, they may still experience its presence on the body. It could very much feel like the limb is still there and sometimes this condition can even be extremely painful. The sensations in the "not there" limb are very real to the person experiencing them, and a variety of treatments might be used to control this pain that is both there and not there.

Tactile hallucination

Another of the form of tactile hallucinations is when people feel they have things moving over their skin. Often people identify this as having insects or bugs under or on top of their skin. This is not an uncommon reaction to certain types of drugs, particularly methamphetamine or cocaine. The sensation often leaves when a drug has left body's system too, and hopefully discouraged the person from use of illegal drugs in the future. This hallucination can cause great mental distress as it occurs, provoking irrational behavior.

In the long list of causes tactile hallucinations, one of the most important causes is drug abuse. Studies have shown that drugs such as methamphetamine, amphetamine and cocaine tend to affect some part of the brain, in turn, trigger visual and tactile hallucinations in which the person can see and feel things that do not exist. Even drugs such as phencyclidine (PCP) - which block the signals to the brain, is considered a hallucinogen that can cause tactile hallucinations in some people. Some cases of hypnagogic hallucinations are also tactile i.e., related to drowsiness that precedes sleep, and this is hypnopompic related to the state of consciousness that exists just before you're fully awake. Those who suffer from narcolepsy enter rapid eye movement (REM) state immediately after the dream - rather than go into deep sleep and then enter the REM state, and the irregular pattern of sleep makes them vulnerable to hallucinations touch.

Sometimes tactile hallucinations are transient and might occur as part of hypnopompic or hypnogogic experiences. These are any hallucinations that happen just before waking or falling asleep, respectively. A person might feel that someone or thing has touched or exerted pressure on him. Alternately, the sensation of falling and hitting the ground may be tactile, and it really can feel as though a physical experience occurred. These hallucinations are fairly common, and many people will experience at least one in a lifetime.


In addition to causing delusory parasitosis, tactile hallucination can also lead to severe injuries as patients scratch at themselves in an attempt to combat the itching, crawling sensation. Patients have been known to cut at themselves during bouts of tactile hallucination as well, with the goal of removing the insects or other organisms which the patient thinks are causing the sensation. This can lead to infection, especially in illegal drug users, who may be in unclean environments where infectious agents are present in abundance.


This abstract distinction may or may not beclinically relevant. For example it can be said thatthe "external object" criterion is unimportant forthe diagnosis of tactile hallucinations. Indeed itcan be said it is unimportant for the diagnosis ofvisual or auditory hallucinations in general. Thiswould be based on the observation that normallypsychiatrists do not search for the hallucinatedobject in public space. It is on the bases of concomitant symptoms, context, past history, andquality of reported hallucinatory experiences thatthe diagnosis is usually made. If this is the case,then it follows that the "perceptual" aspects ofhallucinations may not be, after all, that important.

Since the 19th century perception-related conceptshave been used at two levels in relation to hallucinations: (1) descriptively as when patients' reportsabout "seeing" or "hearing" things are taken atface value and recorded as "perceptual data withoutnecessarily having a basis in reality", (2) etiologically as when it is concluded that because of the typeof experiences, the patients concerned are actuallysuffering from a "disorder of perception". Thefirst level is theory-neutral in that patients' reports canbe taken as simply meaning that they "believe" thattheir perception is involved not committing theobserver to assume that perception is "really"disordered. The secondlevel, however, commits the psychiatrist to analyzing the patient's perceptual apparatus as it assumes thatperceptual hardware is actually disrupted.

Tactile hallucinations, whether associated withfunctional psychoses, drug intoxication, otherorganic states and delusional parasitosis tend to befound in clinical practice accompanied by evidentand often vivid delusional interpretation (for exampleitches are reported as the crawling of ants). Difficulties in separating on purely phenomenologicalbasis "real" from "illusory" or "hallucinated"itches have led writers to resorting to a roughassessment of the quality and extent of the accompanying delusion (and resulting behavior) as ameans for differential diagnosis.


Once the condition is diagnosed, the treatment shall be determined on the basis of what the underlying cause of the hallucination. If substance abuse is the underlying cause, removing it can solve the problem easily. However, if the underlying cause is a psychological disorder, the person may need advice from a certified psychologist or psychiatrist to make sure it is treated promptly. In case of phantom limb pain, you may be prescribed some painkillers to relieve the discomfort that is being submitted.

It may happen that certain sensations - such as burning or itching, which tends to dismiss as a tactile hallucinations over time can be a symptom of an underlying condition with a tendency to snowball into big trouble. In order to avoid any complications, you should opt for a proper diagnosis of the same - especially when the feeling that it is recurrent.

NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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