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Hallucinations: Group Discussion Guide

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1 week

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If you are just starting your freethought campus group, you might be in need of some fresh ideas to kick off the quarter. Even if you are an established group, oftentimes it can be difficult to come up with new topics every week for the duration of the academic calendar. These meeting topic activity packets should provide you with some materials and discussion questions that you can use to spur dialogue and conversation at your meetings. Attached is also a PowerPoint which you could use to introduce the group to this fascinating topic.


In 1894, surveys reported that around 10% of the population in selected countries in Western Europe experienced  hallucinations. More recently, a survey conducted in 1996 reported that around 39% of Europeans claimed to have seen things that were not there in reality. Why the disparity? Apparitions of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, or other religious icons are often claimed in order to lend legitimacy to a person's faith. How would a superstitious person's reaction differ from a skeptic's reaction to a hallucination?

Teaser Questions:

  1. Have you been up late studying and started to see things?
  2. Has any significant religious figure appeared to you by way of patterns on a foodstuff?
  3. Do Hallucinogenic Drugs endanger the health or well being of users and the people they interact with?

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do mental illnesses such as schizophrenia cause a person to hallucinate?
  2. What about hallucinogenic drugs (LSD, Psilocybin Mushrooms, PCP, Opium)?
  3. Can caffeine cause hallucinations? How?
  4. Do the pressures and stresses of contemporary life leave us more vulnerable to hallucinations, or do other factors such as an increase in the prevalence of recreational drug use be blamed for this increase?
  5. Does the human tendency to see patterns in natural phenomena (Pareidolia) reveal anything about our evolutionary past?


  • Oliver Sacks - What Hallucination Reveals about our Minds : Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnet syndrome -- when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations. He describes the experiences of his patients in heartwarming detail and walks us through the biology of this under-reported phenomenon.

Hallucination PowerPoint Primer

What exactly are hallucinations,? What are the properties of many hallucinogenic drugs? How does sleep deprivation and mental illness affect hallucinations? How does one explain the tendency of human beings to see faces and other patterns in the natural world? These are the questions.....Click here for the answers

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