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Oliver Sacks - Donald Fish has scary hallucinations



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


The symbolism is personal in this, although he may be seeing a mass of general symbolism, we cannot tell

A description of the experience

Oliver Sacks – Hallucinations

While …hallucinations are only occasional with most people, they may occur frequently in some, as is the case with Donald Fish, an Australian man whom I met in Sydney after he wrote to me about his vivid hallucinations:

I wake from a calm sleep and perhaps a fairly normal dream with a shock, and there before me is a creature that even Hollywood couldn't create. The hallucinations fade in about ten seconds, and I can move when I have them. In fact I usually jump about a foot into the air and scream. . . . The hallucinations are becoming worse - now about four a night - I am now becoming terrified of going to bed. The following are some examples of what I see:

  • A huge figure of an angel standing over me next to a figure of death in black.
  • A rotting corpse lying next to me.
  • A huge crocodile at my throat.
  • A dead baby on the floor covered in blood.
  • Hideous faces laughing at me.
  • Giant spiders - very frequent.
  • Huge hand over my face. Also one on the floor five feet across.
  • Drifting spider webs.
  • Birds and insects flying into my face.
  • Two faces looking at me from under a rock
  • Image of myself - only looking older - standing by the bed in a suit.
  • Two rats eating a potato.
  • A mass of different coloured flags descending onto me.
  • Ugly-looking primitive man lying on floor covered in tufts of orange hair.
  • Shards of glass falling on me.
  • Two wire lobster pots.
  • Dots of red, increasing to thousands, like spattered blood.
  • Masses of logs falling on me

The source of the experience

Sacks, Oliver

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items


Activities and commonsteps