One of the central subjects of my forthcoming book will be Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). I have had indirect experience of CBS as my Mother developed it as her sight began to fail and she started with her Alzheimer’s. She informed me that she was seeing “little people” everywhere, some of them wearing really strange clothing. At one point she described these beings as looking like the munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz”.
Of course modern science has all the answers. It is obvious that CBS is caused by the brain generating “hallucinations” as the person’s sight deteriorates. So there you go … an explanation. For me this is yet another classic example of the “give it a name and we have explained it” approach of modern science. However those involved in working with CBS take a more circumspect approach. Dr Dominic Ffytche, an expert in visual hallucinations at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London was recently quoted as saying:
‘At the moment, no single clinical speciality has an overview of visual hallucinations. Depending on whether the hallucinations are a symptom of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or eye disease, you might be treated by a psychiatrist, neurologist or ophthalmologist, often with very different advice on how to treat the condition.”
…. Hmmmm … so a recognised “expert” is happy to announce that “At the moment, no single clinical speciality has an overview of visual hallucinations.” For this read “we haven’t got a clue about what is going on” …… hubris is a wonderful word …. or maybe it is simply an “hallucination”. Indeed if images perceived in a person’s visual field and acting as if they exist in three-dimensional space is an hallucination then why is not our generally perceived reality also considered to be a brain-generated “hallucination”? The pat answer is that as other minds share this perception and report seeing the same things then this is evidence that what is out there is “real” and not an hallucination. But what if the “other minds” that are reporting consensuality with regards to external phenomenon are also part of the hallucination? Of course this approach is known as solipsism and it is considered crazy to suggest such a thing. Well it may be crazy but it also is logically flawless.