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Friday, June 20, 2008

Musical hallucinosis.........

It can be irritating to get a catchy song stuck in your head. Imagine if the music sounded so real that you were sure it was coming from a stereo, and the tune never went away.

This is what it's like to suffer from musical hallucinosis, a mysterious condition that usually strikes elderly people with poor hearing. Ramon Mocellin, a psychiatrist at Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia who treats patients with the disorder, tells New Scientist about the condition.

Are people with the condition mentally ill?

Hallucinations, which simply put are perceptions without a stimulus, can be symptoms of mental illness. Auditory hallucinations, in particular hearing voices, are one of the diagnostic criteria of schizophrenia. It is, however, the nature of the hallucinations and the patient's understanding of them that point to the underlying problem.

In this group of patients, the experience of hearing music when there is no external source of music is often accompanied by some degree of understanding that these experiences are not "real", that they originate from their own mind. In schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses, hallucinations are experienced as real, in the external world.

Unfortunately, as most people would equate hearing or seeing things that are not there with mental illness, many people with these symptoms do not seek help because of the shame and stigma that continues to surround mental illness of any type.

What kind of music do sufferers hear?

Musical hallucinosis may take any number of forms. It is very common for the music or songs to be familiar or have special significance to the individual experiencing them.

One elderly man, who was quite deaf, reported hearing familiar hymns or songs from his early adulthood. He initially felt they originated from the next-door neighbour's record player, but soon realised they were not real and was able to ignore them.

On the other hand, an elderly woman with severe hearing loss described experiencing religious hymns sung out of tune in a grating and screaming voice.

Sometimes small portions of single songs can be heard in a repetitive manner, as if from a tape loop. Other people have described hearing indistinct music, as if from far away.

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Posted by Ajay :: 5:45 PM :: 0 comments

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