Type of spiritual experienceHallucination
Dr. Grassian was a Board Certified Psychiatrist who was on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School for over twenty-five years.
A description of the experience
From Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement - Stuart Grassian
Restricted environmental stimulation conditions also occur postoperatively and in certain medical conditions. In a study of one hundred American patients with macular degeneration of the retina, a high percentage of such patients experienced disturbing visual hallucinations.
Those patients who were relatively cognitively limited, those who were socially isolated, and those with simultaneous sensory impairment in another modality (for example, hearing-impaired patients) fared worst. But other factors, including the presence of concomitant medical illness, did not appear to affect the incidence of hallucinations.
In an especially relevant study of eye patched patients, it was determined that psychologically well-adjusted patients (as assessed prior to surgery) tended not to develop visual hallucinations during the period when their eyes were patched, whereas those suffering preexisting personality disturbances did tend to develop such hallucinations.
Among those patients who did develop hallucinations, almost half developed complex hallucinations involving human figures and with content suggesting serious preoccupations with themes of depression and anxiety.
The source of the experience
References and further reading
See Suzanne Holroyd et al., Visual Hallucinations in Patients with Macular Degeneration, 149 AM. J. PSYCHIATRY 1701, 1703 (1992).