Ask Mar­i­lyn

Chattanooga Times Free Press - Parade - - PERSONALITY - Send ques­tions to mar­i­lyn @ pa­ By Mar­i­lyn vos Sa­vant

When my eyes are closed, and I’m wait­ing to fall asleep, I of­ten feel I’m see­ing peo­ple or places that aren’t there. It’s not the same as dream­ing be­cause I’m awake. Am I los­ing it?

—Charles B., In­di­anapo­lis, Ind. No, the ex­pe­ri­ence is com­mon. These sen­sa­tions are called hyp­n­a­gogic hal­lu­ci­na­tions. A sim­i­lar phe­nom­e­non may oc­cur when we first wake up and open our eyes. We may “see” some­thing un­real, such as a cat that is ac­tu­ally in an­other room—or maybe a spi­der crouch­ing on the clock! Or we may think we just heard the phone ring, when it was silent. (That’s an au­di­tory hal­lu­ci­na­tion.) All kinds of crazy stuff can hap­pen, and nearly all of it means noth­ing.

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