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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 60 (2018) 1, 37 - 45


Hallucinations and art

J.D. Blom

Background Hallucinations and art appear to be inextricably connected, and yet the question remains in how far artists make use of hallucinations for their work in daily practice.
aim To chart the ways in which the fine arts are influenced by hallucinations, an explorative literature search was carried out. METHOD The search was carried out in PubMed, Google, and the historical literature.
results Some famous examples of artists who drew on hallucinations for their work, are Hildegard of Bingen, William Blake, and Yayoi Kusama. Especially among the surrealists, we also find indications of the use of pareidolias, metamorphopsias, and other positive disorders of visual perception.
conclusion In the art literature, the term hallucination is often used in a broader sense than in medicine. As a consequence, the suggestion that hallucinations would be lying at the basis of many works of art cannot be confirmed, even though some spectacular examples can certainly be pointed out.

keywords metamorphopsia, optical illusion, pareidolia, surrealism, synaesthesia