by Rachael Rettner
About 1 in 20 people in the general population has experienced at least one hallucination in their lifetime that wasn’t connected to drugs, alcohol or dreaming, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed information from more than 31,000 people in 18 countries who were interviewed as part of a mental health survey from the World Health Organization. Participants were asked whether they had ever heard voices or seen things that didn’t exist, or if they had experienced a delusion (a false belief), such as the thought that their mind was being controlled or that they were being followed.
The study excluded people who possibly had a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia or manic depression, which can cause hallucinations and delusions. Therefore, the findings show that hallucinations and delusions are not always connected to serious mental illness, the researchers said.
“We used to think that only people with psychosis heard voices or had delusions, but now we know that otherwise healthy, high-functioning people also report these experiences,” study co-author Dr. John McGrath, a professor at the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia, said in a statement.
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