Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seeing Things

Bizarro is brought to you today by Hallucinating 101.

Hallucinating can be fun as long as it isn't dangerous. There are many recreational drugs that will cause hallucinations, some are safer than others, of course. As a matter of legality, I'm not recommending any of them. Hallucinating during a fever is no fun, mostly because a fever that high is quite painful and can kill you. Sleep deprivation can also cause you to see things, as any parent of a newborn will tell you.

Turns out it's fairly easy to cause a person to hallucinate. I'm not going to get all grammatically literal about it, but some optical illusions can reach the level of a sort of hallucination. If you've ever been in those fun house places that are built with everything all catawampus, and balls appear to roll uphill and water pours sideways, that's pretty close for my money.

Our brains are actually geared toward this sort of thing. We (and most other creatures) have evolved to spot patterns and make some version of sense of them, which helps us survive. For instance, it is much safer to see a shadow and think it is an intruder than to see an intruder and assume it is a only a shadow. This is one reason people so regularly see faces in random shapes, like the image of the Virgin Mary in your toast or the bark of a tree. One of my favorite examples of this is this image of Jesus in a dog's behind. Wow.

Here's a good one that has nothing to do with religion.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've hallucinated many times, mainly due to my drug-taking in the 70's. Marijuana, LSD and mushrooms. Since then, whenever I was sick, I'd have more elaborate hallucinations than when I was a child. Earlier this year, I came down with a severe blood infection, and the extra-strength antibiotic they gave me (called something like "Refamtrin") caused extreme paranoia and hallucinations. I saw faces everywhere and believed I actually saw a gateway to hell. Very miserable. My favorite hallucinations were from quality mushrooms and purple windowpane. Real pure highs, with Escher-like visions. But I wouldn't recommend these drugs to everyone. For example, people with a family history of mental illness should stay away.

Aaron said...

The worst is paying for hallucinations. I just got back from therapy and I'll tell you, I'm paying her a lot to of scratch to see something that I don't really think is there. Anyway, I like your incorporation of "Hallucination for Dummies". They have those books for everything; even stuff that's imagined.

Anonymous said...

The Virgin Mary on the toast?

It looked more like Jessica Rabbit.

Dan Barr said...

That dried toothpaste looks way more like Fredrick Douglass then Shakespeare. People really need to educate themselves before they start making claims about miraculous images.

ojeano said...

the "Virgin Mary in Your Toast" isn't Mary, it's Jean Harlow:

http://img2.allposters.com/images/CLASS/130-011.jpg

Thank you for the note about brain wiring and seeing the way we do. Makes so much sense and I never thought of it before. Seeing what *could* be there, more strongly than some do, is the gift of the cartoonist.

June said...

re: Anonymous comment--This should remind everyone that not just the known hallucinogens can lead to visionary episodes. Once on a three day crank run in my youth while studying for exams I watched a man playing with a cute little dog under the street light for at least an hour before realizing there was no dog. I told my sister of this who noticed that there also was no man. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

I have schizophrenia and I take meds to control my hallucinations and paranoia. For a long time I didn't realize what I see isn't real. I once saw a manacing snowman staring at me from the parking lot across the street. In the middle of July! Like the cartoon. Wish there actually was a book like that. Would help to explain things to people.