Recently I wrote on how mental health professionals jump to psychosis when a patient claims to have experienced auditory, visual, gustatory, olfactory, or tactile hallucinations. Since "everyone" knows these are "crazy" phenomena, the extent to which ordinary functioning people experience these remain unknown.
Absent of delusions, absent horrid reality testing--I posit this is not so. Again, who is crazy--us, and the superficial psychosocial interviews. Or, should I more accurately state--the stupidfictionnonsensical psychotic interview?
Since I was a bookish, introverted bespectacled child, I have always been a daydreamer. In school, I was in my own world. The world of books. I was Katy John, I was the dark-haired sister of Little Plum, I was in the attic with Anne (probably not welcomed, as she was making out with Peter). Then, I was Peregrine Took, my ambivalently most favorite hobbit. I was a friend to all of them, hanging out with them, playing dolls with them, bike-riding, going to school with them, making up social interactions. They were more interesting than long-division. Did I mention I was lonely? My interaction with fictional characters resolved my loneliness. I created dialogue. I could hear them say their lines which I imagined for them. I could see us in our milieus. That's not psychosis--that's shyness. They did not "command" me to do anything. When I was interested in a subject (Spelling, History), they vanished. I commanded them to keep me company. A psychologist just looking to check a box will check auditory hallucinations. Bring on the anti-psychotics.
I still keep company with Peregrine. For many a year, I was awash with the hobbits. Then, at some point in graduate school, they left me. When Jackson came out in 2001 with the first Lord of the Ring Trilogy movie--they're back. With some modifications--Strider as portrayed by Viggo Mortensen--oh my, he's fine. In my imagination, Strider was never so. Just an old man, a terse Tolkien version of Tonto. But now--he's sexy. He's heroic. He's a dashing duelist. Rescue me.
Of course, never mention this to the harried,poorly trained intake worker.
If they had fan fiction when I was a chlld, i guess that is where I would have been. As it was, i would spend my lonely hours in the garage,filling in details of their lives, sketching LOTR characters. I think I was more interested by then in their clothes. Not the accessories. The ring--bah. One ring to rule them all? Bah. I have a history of losing rings. When I wash my hands after using the toilet, I place the ring on a ledge. Then, wash hands. Then leave. I can't tell you how many rings I've left behind. Then, minutes later, rushing back in--and it's disappeared. So, no rings on my fingers. Just on my ears.
But clothes? I guess if I were to do fan fiction, it would have ended up as "The Fashions of the Ring." Now, of course, there are conferences devoted to LOTR'ers. There are holiday packages. I'm not interested. I was never interested in dressing like a hobbit--just dressing them up. I'm not interested in being with people dressed up like elves, or assuming an elf/hobbit name. In fact, the best fan site I visited was the one where they imagined Eowyn saying, "I hied to the Gap of Rohan. But it was closed." I'm not interested in Jackson's sets (well, not enough to plan a holiday). Tolkien's shires were pre-WWI English villages. I've been to Scotland. I've been to the Isle of Skye. It's evocative enough for me.
I, of course, have the good sense and the high degree of repression necessary not to mention this to others. A psychologist did once say I had a "highly" active fantasy life. And that doesn't sound good coming from one of that tribe. Good thing I listened to my mother once in a while: "What goes on in the family, stays in the family." A short step to that is "What goes on in your head, stays in your head."
I have experienced tactile hallucinations (formication) in hot, humid weather. Sensations of spiders or gnats crawling up and down my legs, sometimes my back. A cold shower resolves that better than an anti-psychotic. About five years ago, when I experienced this in fine weather, I googled "Formication" and discovered that some gynecologists believe it is a perimenopausal phenomena. Ok. I'm in that range. So tactile hallucinations may be a normal hormonal event.
As for olfactory and gustatory, there have been times when my mouth is awash with a nostalgic flavor--the yumminess of my first taste of coffee (full-disclosure--age 3). Smells--the elementary school glue, for example. I can't explain why this happens. Only that I would never disclose it to a mental health professional. They are not curious anymore. They just want to put me in a box.
We used to talk in psychoanalytic training of the Protean bed--if the bed was too small, crush the patient to fit. If the bed was too big, stretch the patient. Now I see it is not a problem unique to psychoanalysis. Confirmation bias rules the mental health world. Everybody is just looking to check a box. Don't worry about whether the patient fits in the box.