A hallucination is a perception in the absence of external stimulus that has qualities of real perceptions. Hallucinations are vivid and substantial. It can occur in any sense modality, and today we are going to tackle hallucinations in the tactile sense.
Tactile hallucination is the false perception of tactile sensory input that creates a hallucinatory sensation of physical contact with an imaginary object. Like many forms of hallucinations, these are not limited to those suffering from mental illness and could have many causes.
It can be presented in a number of different ways. One of the most common cases is the phantom limb. When people lose an appendage, they may still experience its presence on the body, and sometimes this condition can even cause tremendous pain.
Another common cause is in the form of people feeling they have things moving on their skin. Other people identify them as has having insects or bugs crawling either under or on top of their skin. This is generally called Formication. It’s from the Latin formicare, meaning to creep like an ant.
Intoxication can be one of the causes of this type of hallucination. It causes the rapid firing of neuronal cells of the somatosensory region of the brain, leading to vivid perception of illusionary bugs on the skin. Organic and toxic syndromes can also induce tactile hallucinations. The use of cocaine for recreational purposes has been reported to induce such hallucinations. They usually have sensations of moving itches and crawling insects.
Sometimes, tactile hallucinations are transient and might occur before waking or falling asleep. A person might feel that someone or something has touched them or has exerted pressure on their bodies. Alternately, the sensation of falling and hitting the ground may be tactile, and it really can feel as though a physical experience occurred.
Also, these are considered as symptoms of neurological diseases such as Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s Disease, Ekbom’s Syndrome and Delerium Tremens.
How about you? Have you ever experienced any kind of tactile hallucination? I remember one of mine. A friend of mine was holding my hand so tight while we walked home together, and even after we parted, I could still feel the pressure of her hand on mine. I’d love to hear from you!