A person with schizophrenia sees a door become open, while in reality it's closed. What would he see when he tries to pass through the door?

  1. Bumps into an invisible obstacle.

  2. He sees the door become closed just before he tries to pass.

  3. He opens the door himself just before passing through it, but his brain meticulously ignores his action or alters his memory so that he thinks the door was already open.


3 Answers 3


Short answer
Visual hallucinations in psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are typically not simple transformations of an inanimate lifeless object into another state. They are not a car turning upside down, or a door suddenly opening. Instead, they are often 'de novo' images or scenes, with religious and frightening content and just beyond grasp.

What are visual hallucinations in the psychotic spectrum? In general visual hallucinations are

Visual sensory perceptions in the absence of external stimuli (Ali, 2011).

Visual hallucinations (VHs) in psychosis are often life-sized, detailed, and solid. Important for your question - They are projected either just beyond the reach of individuals, or further away. They are often images of people, faces, animals, objects, or events. Common are visions with frightening content (bugs, dogs, snakes, distorted faces), and these are linked to distress. Notably, visions of God, angels, the devil, saints, and fairies are common. Also worthwhile to realize is that they are often aware others do not perceive it (Waters et al., 2014). For example, I heard a person anecdotally speak in front of our class (more than a decade ago, how time flies) about themselves featuring horns on their head when they would look in the mirror. These horns made them look like the devil in the mirror, which evoked strong feelings of distress. They did'n tell this explicitly, but I'm sure when they would feel on their heads, they wouldn't feel anything (combined tactile-visual hallucinations are, afaik, extremely rare, if existing at all). Instead, they interpreted their hallucinations as something religious, as something threatening and dangerous to themselves.

To place the other answer into perspective: visual hallucinations occur in 16% to 72% of schizophrenics, at some point in the course of their illness (Goodwin & Rosenthal (1971); Ali, (2016)) and their impact should not be underestimated (Oorschot et al., 2010).

- Ali, Curr Psych (2011); 10(11): 22-9
- Goodwill & Rosenthal, Arch Gen Psychiatry (1971); 24(1):76-80
- Oorschot et al., Schizophrenia Res (2010); 117;(2-3): 307
- Waters et al., Schizophr Bull (2014); 40(S4): 233–45


Unfortunately hallucinations of visual type seldom occur with schizophrenia. When visual hallucinations occur in schizophrenia or more frequently (but still uncommon) in other disorders they are rather unlike a simulation of the current world - e.g. a closed door becoming open in the room. In addition patient in a hallucinatory state is very affectively taken by the experience and often is just afraid to move. Further - the only way to know would be to ask the patient as to what happened, but given that this kind of event is very rarely, if at all, happening, there is no answer because - how can you set up an experiment. Therefore this question, interesting though it may be, is just of speculative value.

A good article about the topic is:

M Manford F Andermann, Complex visual hallucinations. Clinical and neurobiological insights. Brain, Volume 121, Issue 10, 1 October 1998, Pages 1819–1840


Hallucinations by schizophrenics are not a distortion of what they observe from the information of the world .

They do not see or hear something that someone in the same vicinity observes as an indifference . They see and hear the same as a non schizophrenic does. It is a difference in the mental interpretation of the information in the mind.

I am schizophrenic . There is an irony in what I'm going to say next . I know what I'm talking about.

When I am unwell I can misinterpret information from the senses such as sound , as in the purpose of a conversation .

I hear the same words that everybody else hears however the purpose of these words is not to convey the message of these words in the ordinary sense, but I interpret these words as having a concealed meaning that only the other members of the group understand .

I get paranoid that they are talking about me indirectly. I am not proud of this as it can appear that I have some sort of self-importance or narccissm. The question must arise in your mind is, why do I think I should be of a particular importance in a group ?, and why should they attempt to conceal there view of me ? etc. I cannot help it. I am not in control of it.

There is also a question in the mind of doubt about how you are interpreting the conversation, to some respects you disbelieve what you are thinking, but are overpowered by the belief that the way you are interpreting the purpose of the conversation, is the truth.

I wanted to express this as an attempt to make people who are not experts in this, understand what goes on in a schizophrenics mind when they are unwell.

I would like, also, to express a funny story about my condition that involved me and a doctor.

The doctor asked me whether I had been suffering any delusions lately. To which I replied, 'Not as far as I can tell!'

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome. On this site we expect users to answer questions based on credible sources and preferably journal papers. However, even wikipedia may suffice at times. This answer seems like a personal opinion. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD Horses mouth. $\endgroup$
    – 8Mad0Manc8
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ may be, but personal anecdotes are better suited as comments on the question than a full blown answer. You don't have enough rep and the post is too long as a comment, so I'll leave it open for now. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 20:15

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