What Do You Know About Hallucinations? LMSW Exam Prep

By Emily Pellegrino on August 24, 2012

conceptual artwork of hallucinations. Social Work Exam Prep: Hallucinations

We're switching gears this week and moving from gender roles to hallucinations.  Hallucinations have often been portrayed in the movies and media in a variety of ways.  I think one of the more commonly known movies is, "A Beautiful Mind," which depicts a professor's struggle with schizophrenia along with the hallucinations and delusions that accompanied his disease.  If you haven't seen it yet, it's a great movie and provides an interesting depiction of hallucinations and this man's life and struggles.

Alright, so let's get started with a sample question:


Which of the following BEST defines the term hallucination?

A. The sudden, temporary change in the normal functions of consciousness, identity, and memory.

B. An individual's thoughts or feelings that are inappropriate to the current situation.

C. Perceptual experiences of an imagined object or phenomenon that is not really present.

D. An inaccurate but strongly held belief retained despite objective evident to the contrary.

It is most likely throughout our career that we will come across clients who experience hallucinations.  There are many different causes of hallucinations including, but not limited to, drug use, psychosis, neurological disorders, and even severe sleep deprivation.  The most common hallucinations are auditory, however, there are many other ways they can be experienced by an individual including sight, taste, touch, and smell. Command hallucinations are the most dangerous because the individual is being told to do something such as hurt themselves or someone else.  Individuals who are experiencing hallucinations should receive medical and psychological attention in order to determine the causes and possible treatments, such as medication. The Social Work Dictionary defines hallucinations as, "An imagined perception of some object or phenomenon that is not really present.  Often a symptom of a psychosis, it may involve hearing nonexistent voices (auditory hallucinations), seeing objects that are not there (visual hallucinations), smelling (olfactory hallucinations), tasting (gustatory hallucinations), and touching (haptic hallucinations) (Barker, 2003).


The best answer to the above question is C.  This is correct because "perceptual experiences" are referring to the sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste that an individual may experience with something that is not really present.  A and B are incorrect because they better describe symptoms of dissociation disorder, and dissociation, which is a defense mechanism.  Furthermore, D is defining the term delusion which can coincide with the hallucinations that an individual is experiencing. While these two symptoms can often feed off one another making it difficult to determine which came first, they are separate symptoms.

Coming up next week: Introjection

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your LMSW exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam, check out our LMSW Study Materials. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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