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April 5, 1976

Hallucinations: Behavior, Experience, and Theory

Author Affiliations

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Iowa City

JAMA. 1976;235(14):1504. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260400062042

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The title of this book is misleading. The subject is not so much hallucinations as it is hallucinogenic drugs, visions and visionary experiences, creativity, and cultural anthropology. The psychiatrist who reads this book to learn more about the hallucinations of psychotic patients (usually auditory, haptic, or olfactory) will be disappointed, for most of the authors ignore these types completely and discuss only visual hallucinations and related imaginative phenomena.

Given this limitation, which will be a significant one for the clinically oriented reader, some portions of the book are interesting and exciting. La Barre's initial chapter about anthropological perspectives on hallucinations and hallucinogens contains an impressive review of both geographic and historical cross-cultural comparisons. West's final chapter is a briefer but readable and informative review of the pharmacology of hallucinogens and of various theories about the physiological and psychological causes of hallucinations. Between beginning and end, the contents vary in both