Seeing a unicorn in the bathtub is not always a sign of mental illness. Hallucinations are surprisingly common. Healthy people can trigger otherworldly experiences with coffee, wrong medication and the sight of a loved one.
The deep end is terrifying. Some people live with epic hallucination disorders that cannot be fully explained or treated. Experts are also perplexed about the time when touches gave police officers visions or why most mourners saw the dead.
See also: Top 10 Incredible Types of Illusions and Hallucinations
10 1 Hallucinations Occur in 20 People
When the World Health Organization interviewed 31,000 civilians, the mental health of 18 countries should be be measured. Instead, it came across something really strange. Around 1 in 20 people said they had seen at least one hallucination in their lifetime. What made this so strange was that none of them had consumed drugs, alcohol, or dreamed of the event. These were normal, healthy people.
People with psychotic conditions had been sorted out beforehand. There was a chance that some of the participants would not be diagnosed. However, this could not explain how often hallucinations occur among women, singles and the unemployed. Perhaps the most eye-opening lesson was that seeing things was no longer exclusively associated with a serious mental illness. Most of the volunteers were healthy, well-functioning people with normal lives.
The frequency also generated more questions than answers. The researchers cannot say why in the past only a third experienced a single hallucination, while another third experienced two to five events in their lives.
9 Caffeine is a trigger
While you clutch your fourth morning coffee, do you see clowns swinging on the boardroom chandelier? Relax, don't lose your mind. The problem is not a mental illness. Blame the coffee bean. In fact, you can point your finger at anything that contains caffeine.
The magic number appears to be 315 milligrams of caffeine. This is how much a person can consume after just three cups of brewed coffee, six cups of tea or nine colas. Even a strong boutique cafe coffee comes close to that. After consuming the specified amount, the risk of auditory and visual hallucinations is three times higher than before.
The cycle can be malignant. When people suffer from caffeine-related hallucinations, few know the real cause. Like millions of others, they rely on tea or coffee to make them feel comfortable emotionally, and may consume more while trying to process the clowns in the boardroom. Caffeine is a stimulant that triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol and stimulates nervous thoughts. More worries, more coffee, more hallucinations.
8 The 10 Minute Experiment
There is a quick test that anyone can do, and if you're prone to trippy times. The experiment lasts 10 minutes and involves staring into another person's eyes. That is all you have to do. Some say that the best results are achieved when you do it with a loved one, and that is certainly less of a hassle than when you stare at a stranger on the bus.
Invented by Giovanni Caputo, an Italian psychologist, he tested 20 people to see if this simple action could change their consciousness. After the couple watched each other for 10 minutes, the results were strange. Except for the feeling of separation, the group hallucinated as if they were being paid. Oddly enough, they only reported certain types of visions.
About 90 percent saw their partner's face grimace with some kind of deformity. For 75 percent, there was an encounter with a monster. Oddly, half of them reported that the face they stared at turned into their own, and 15 percent hallucinated that their partner had turned into a relative school, social isolation, and physical abuse aren't bad enough for bullied children, they do also have a greater chance of hallucinations. In fact, most of these young adults will experience a psychotic episode at 18, and for some it will be a lifelong struggle. Your chances of seeing and hearing nonexistent things are five times higher than normal.
This is not the only scary fact. When the Universities of Warwick and Bristol did a thorough investigation of the matter, they found that bullying in elementary school had to be stopped in order for a child to have a normal prognosis for the future. By the time the children reach secondary school, it is already too late, even if the bullying stops. The problem is that most bad behavior between young children is often dismissed as rough or not taken as seriously as bullying between older children.
The most daunting reality is that bullying doesn't have to last for years. Some children are abused for a short time and thus their risk factor for hallucinations and future mental health problems is quadrupled.
6 Wrong voices drown out real language
The hallmark of schizophrenia is seeing and hearing things that do not exist. A particularly frightening manifestation is hearing voices. Some voices utter soft whispers, others shout swear words. Needless to say, this leads to suffering and difficulties for patients struggling with an already difficult illness.
In 2012, researchers decided to find a way to train schizophrenics to ignore the wrong voices. But first they had to understand the role of the brain in this trick. This was important because we hear with our brains as much as the parts that make up our ears. The results were astonishing and troubling, but in the end they offered the first real hope of getting rid of wrong voices.
To everyone's surprise, hallucinatory conversations drowned out the real voices. A special brain dysfunction activated regions where nobody spoke (which gave rise to verbal illusions) and switched off when someone really spoke. The glitch was so bizarre that it almost seemed like some kind of ridiculous theory. In fact, the researchers found no evidence of their conclusion in the history of the medical literature. However, the study’s brain scans have undoubtedly proven that the error is real and powerful.
The discovery enabled them to design an iPhone app that trains the brain to respond normally to voices. One woman reported that her struggle with the voices in her head had improved significantly and that the study could be a breakthrough treatment in the fight against schizophrenia if more patients had the same success.
5 A world full of dragons  Hallucinations destroyed the life of a Dutch woman. As long as she could remember, the nameless patient was afraid to look at other people – her faces turned into dragon heads. Whenever she had to stare at someone, the person's face stretched before turning into a reptile. The ears grew longer, the skin blackened and the eyes large with bright iris colors.
This may be food for those who believe in the “extraterrestrials of the reptiles”. But she was not one of them. Her condition is very real and debilitating. The patient was unable to hold a job because talking to dragons disrupted her social interactions. Even worse, the creatures poured out of sockets, computer screens, and even dark rooms.
The disease is called prosopometamorphopsia. Nobody knows the exact cause, but those affected see distorted faces. However, the productive and kite-specific issue in the case of the 52-year-old patient was confusing. Blood tests, brain scans and neurological tests turned out to be normal. Fortunately, treatment with the anti-dementia drug rivastigmine has eliminated most dragons after many attempts based on well-founded presumptions and has successfully resumed its work.
4 The Psychotic Side Effects of Malaria Drugs  Lariam helps prevent malaria by taking it once a week. But in some cases, the pills trigger terrible side effects. One of the most notable cases happened with Tim Notee, a 20-year-old student who bought Lariam in 2012 just before visiting Ghana.
The effects started when he was still in the Netherlands and packing for his trip. His mind was so dispersed that his mother had to finish his travel arrangements. After arriving in Ghana, the hallucinations began. Whole walls seemed to be moving. He thought he shared a body with a grasshopper. Within a week he lost touch with reality. Notee firmly believed that Jesus was his older brother, knew God personally, and passionately wrote a new religion.
He thought he could do miracles, shaved his body to look more Ghanaian, and promised his concerned father that they would meet Bruce Springsteen. Notee fell ill and was taken to the hospital, where a doctor immediately recognized the side effects of Lariam and told him to stop taking the pills. In the meantime, Notee was no longer the second son of God. He was Jesus and he told everyone.
He was flown to an emergency clinic, where he told the doctors that his blood could cure malaria. At some point the stick had to jump him because he was trying to escape his treatment. Then the television in his room "communicated" with him. The young man escaped from the hospital and ended up on the television station. After three weeks in Ghana, Notee was finally taken home and sent to a Dutch psychiatric facility. Treatment with antipsychotic drugs almost zombified him, but Notee finally recovered completely.
Terribly, one in ten people react badly to Lariam.
3 Charles Bonnet Syndrome
Few people have heard of a hallucination called Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). Most of us who hallucinate hear the strange voice or see something plump. But those with CBS experience a unique form of hell.
The syndrome is terrifying. The condition appears to be triggered by the loss or impairment of vision. As soon as CBS appears, patients see entire rooms transforming into different places, animals, people, entire buildings, massive vehicles, monsters, huge patterns, words scribbling everywhere and things like spiders, water and plants. How many of them. The visions are also incredibly quiet.
Despite the scary nature of CBS, few people report. What is holding them back is not the agony of hallucinations, but the fear that they will be diagnosed with dementia. Most dementia-induced visions, however, occur with sound. Because people tend to remain silent, no one knows how many people are affected or how often CBS actually occurs. Solid data on the condition and treatments are also virtually non-existent.
2 Most mourners see the dead
If we lose a loved one, most people would do anything to see them again. But when you actually take a look at the deceased, the experience is so scary that the majority never mentions the ghostly moment. The main fear is that others think they are crazy.
It is surprisingly common to see or hear a dead loved one. It even has a name. Scientists refer to these visions as hallucinatory experiences after the bereavement. Up to six in ten people hear or see someone they have recently lost. The hallucinations can be lively. The dead sit in their favorite chairs or call the name of the living person.
PBHEs can be calming or stressful, depending on the person's views and grief. For some it is a sign that there is life after death. However, scientists are currently advocating the possibility that the PBHE is related to the flashbacks of people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
1 They're spreading touch
In 2016, a woman in Oregon saw something disturbing. The 54-year-old called the police and told them that eight people were trying to remove the roof of their car. Since it was 3:00 a.m., they apparently stole or destroyed their property. But when the officers arrived there were no metal hijackers and the car was fine.
The woman called a second time and claimed that people were back and sawing the vehicle away. The cops didn't bring any cuffs. This time, they took her to the emergency room for hallucinations. However, she was declared fit and sent home. The story could have ended there, but soon four other people began to hallucinate. One was the 78-year-old patient who lived with the woman (who was a caregiver), one was a hospital worker who treated the caregiver, and two officers who examined also showed symptoms.
The blood tests showed nothing. No contamination was found in the five people, neither in the police car, in the carer's home, nor in the emergency room. Some believe that the group suffered from mass hysteria, an event that occurs when people "catch" something that they see and fear in someone else. However, this theory is insufficient.
Sure, it was uncomfortable to see the woman hallucinating and her patient possibly copying her subconsciously. But police and hospital staff work with sick and disturbed people every day, which uniquely qualifies them not to develop mass hysteria. The only thing the four had in common was that they touched the original patient.
The case remains unsolved.