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Observations placeholder

Paroxysmal perceptual alteration and hallucinations from anti-psychotics



Type of Spiritual Experience

Pure or enhanced perception

Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Seishin Shinkeigaku Zasshi. 2009;111(2):127-36.

[Paroxysmal perceptual alteration in comparison with hallucination--a review of its clinical reports and discussion of its pathophysiological mechanism in the present day, when second generation antipsychotics are widely used].

[Article in Japanese]

Watanabe K.  Department of Neuropsychiatry, Watanabe Hospital.


The syndrome of paroxysmal perceptual alteration (PPA) was first described by Yamaguchi in 1985. Since then, many PPA cases have been reported, and its pathophysiological mechanism has been proposed: a suppressed (blocked) mesolimbic and mesocortical dopaminergic system and sequential compensatory increase of noradrenergic neuronal activity are crucial for the occurrence of PPA.

PPA is characterized by hypersensitivity of perception, psychedelic experience (brightening of colors, sharpening of contrast, visual distortion, etc.), and somatic schema disorder (one feels that one is floating, one's extremities are being pulled and elongated, etc.).

PPA in chronic schizophrenic patients occurs abruptly like an attack mainly in the evening, often precipitated by fatigue. During the attack, patients also suffer from mood and thought alteration (anxiety, agitation, depressive mood, and inability to distract their thoughts from one thing), but they are aware that symptoms of PPA are not real and apprehensive about them. The attack ceases gradually and spontaneously while the patient rests or sleeps.

These clinical features are clearly different from those of schizophrenic hallucinations. It is believed that PPA is closely related to neuroleptic treatment by conventional antipsychotics.

I reported the prevalence of PPA as 4.0% in 1991 when high potential D2 blocking agents were prevailing. The occurrence of PPA has been significantly reduced to the present, when second generation (atypical) antipsychotics are prevailing. However, in my inquiry in 2004, the prevalence of PPA was 3.6% in cases treated with risperidone (RIS), while the rates were 0 in cases treated with olanzapine (OLZ), quetiapine (QTP), and perospirone (PRS).

Several cases of PPA have been reported in patients who were treated with OLZ and PRS.

Until now, no cases of PPA have been reported who were treated with QTP and aripiprazole (APZ). The prevalence of PPA among cases treated with these second generation antipsychotics might be related to the differences in these agents regarding their affinity for the D2 receptor: RIS has a sustained and close binding affinity, which might be similar to those of conventional antipsychotics, OLZ shows a sustained and loose binding affinity, PRS exhibits a transient and close binding affinity, whereas QTP has a transient and loose binding affinity.

APZ is a partial agonist of the D2 receptor; APZ acts as an agonist under the condition of intrinsic dopaminergic dysfunction, which might prevent the occurrence of PPA.

PMID:  19378769

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