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M.-C. Wanet-Defalque, O. Overbury, F. Dutrisac; Hallucinatory Experience Related to Sensory Impairments: A Qualitative Study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):1810.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Charles Bonnet syndrome is characterized by visual hallucinations associated to visual impairment in the absence of mental disorders. Deaf-blind people, as well as deaf people, can also experience auditory hallucinations but studies documenting prevalence as well as characteristics of their conditions are scarce. This study compares the content of hallucinations related to 3 conditions: visual impairment, deaf-blindness and deafness.
Fourteen people receiving visual or auditory rehabilitation services and complaining of hallucinations were interviewed, using a semi-structured protocol. Taped-recorded interviews were subsequently processed and analysed using a qualitative content analysis (with Nvivo software).
Six main topics emerged from the interviews analysis. The content of hallucinations and the circumstances of apparition, as well as the related feelings were the most prolific areas described. All participants - experiencing either complex or simple hallucinations - reported negative feelings such as fear and anxiety, or evoked preoccupations about their mental health. Some participants also described adverse experience with health care professionals, due to unawareness of the condition.
Hallucinations related to visual impairment as well as auditory loss share common characteristics and can lead to a distressing experience. Better systematic screening as well as better recognition by health professionals could improve the quality of life of these clients.
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