The Existential Dilemma of Hallucination

“If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.” =Thomas Szasz

I like this quote, and have always found it funny, but it also highlights an important dilemma about hallucination.

It might seem like a rather simple matter, distinguishing hallucination from reality, and I suppose in some ways it is, but perceptions of these kind also raise their own questions. Namely, if the phenomena I’m experiencing is not real, then in what circumstance might it be real?

If believing in god, precludes hearing god, if believing in ghosts precludes seeing ghosts, and so on and so forth through for any spiritual phenomena, then for all intents and purposes, the matter has been resolved.

Millions of Americans think ghosts might exist, maybe billions of people worldwide, but if someone routinely sees ghosts, then that person is schizophrenic. Now, neither statements say much about the reality of ghosts, but if they are not at least real to perception, then that leaves no possible sense in which we might say they exist.

Now, I can live with this, except it’s a decision no one made explicitly. It could simply be that it’s a professional matter, so that agreement is not very important, but the implication is that certain thoughts can only be held in null, so long as no one takes them too seriously.

120 thoughts on “The Existential Dilemma of Hallucination”

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