Hallucinogenic drugs cause disturbances in the visual field through hallucinations and what are called “visual aberrations”. These disruptions affect perception, color, dimension, and reality. HPPD is a diagnosable disorder in which an individual continues to experience visual disruptions after years of not taking hallucinogens. These persistent perception issues can be entertaining at best, or cause frustrating difficulties in the ability to effectively manage life.
Are people with HPPD still hallucinating?
Though people with HPPD are still seeing visual hallucinations, they are not actually hallucinating. A defining difference between HPPD and hallucinatory mental illnesses is that people with HPPD know that they are seeing visuals. Even though the visualizations may seem like they are from a different reality, people with HPPD are able to connect to their reality in a healthy way, know that what they are seeing isn’t real, and fully recognize that what they are witnessing are just pseudohallucinations.
Does HPPD interfere with quality of life?
Some of the more seasoned hallucinogen users who do not have a diagnosable case of HPPD are prone to pseudohallucinations every now and again. Small visual disturbances are somewhat of a welcome nostalgia for such individuals, if not a reminder of the harsh chemicals they once willingly subjected their brains to over and over again. In extreme cases, visual disruptions can interfere with the ability to normally function in life when they are persistent and cause discomfort or create any risk.
What do people with HPPD see?
- Halos: people will see halos of light around average objects
- “Auras”: people will see glowing borders around people and average objects
- Trailing: when objects move, people see a trail of light and color behind them, or repeated patterns of the object itself
- Blurred colors: instead of colors being distinct and separated, people will see the world more like a watercolor painting with colors blurring together
- Changing colors: color sources which aren’t gradients may appear to be a gradient or an ombre, shifting in hue and intensity
- Moving objects or patterns: static objects or patterns may suddenly seem to start moving and warping though they are still
- Visual “snow” or “static”: seeing snow like or static like grains in the air or across the visual field
- Noticing “floaters”: having an enhanced awareness of normal debris in the eye
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