I have an idea for a story where a man, Paul Atkins, goes insane because he is slowly going blind and can no longer see his wife and family. He develops schizophrenic tendencies and can't tell if the visions are real or not due to his poor vision. Is there a way to show his insanity well?

  • This would be much more at home on Writing Stack Exchange (or possibly Psychology & Neuroscience, though they're likely to welcome only non-fictional inquiries). However, Welcomed to Worldbuilding! Please be sure to read the FAQ and take our tour to understand why this isn't a worldbuilding question.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Oct 18, 2022 at 18:55
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    Loss of a sense, even gradual, is known to produce hallucinations of that sense. Psychotic conditions would be a separate thing - mind you, they can be triggered by massive stress. When posting on Psychology & Neuroscience or Medical Sciences be sure to show your research else risk closure for lack of it. Oct 18, 2022 at 19:00
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    "Is there a way to show his insanity well?" Research accounts of real people with schizophrenia.
    – Daron
    Oct 18, 2022 at 19:11
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    "Is there a way to show his insanity well?" Fyodor Dostoevsky says hi. (The Idiot, 1868. Demons, 1871. Crime and Punishment, 1866. The Brothers Karamazov, 1879.) (To be honest, Dostoevsky is not alone -- a large number of characters of Russian novels appear to be mentally disturbed. Some would say that it is easier to list the major Russian characters who are fully sane.)
    – AlexP
    Oct 18, 2022 at 19:25
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    Hello Kai. Please note that your question was closed for violating one of our rules. Our help center states, "When asking questions keep in mind that the goal of the site is to help you build your world, not to tell your story." When you have a moment, please take our tour and read the following two pages to understand what you can and cannot do on this site: help center and [help-dont-ask].
    – JBH
    Oct 18, 2022 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Charles Bonnet syndrome

You character suffers Charles Bonnet syndrome or something very much like it, a consequence of a growing brain tumor.

Hallucinations Experienced by Visually Impaired: Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Visual hallucinations experienced by Charles Bonnet Syndrome patients are typically simple or complex in nature, although a full spectrum of hallucinations can occur. Simple visual hallucinations, which are sometimes described as elementary or formed, are composed of photopsias, simple shapes, grid-like patterns, and branching patterns. Complex visual hallucinations are made up of vivid and complicated images of people, faces, vehicles, animals, flowers, trees, plants, and miniature images of people and objects.

Peduncular Hallucinosis Peduncular hallucinosis shows the closest clinical overlap with Charles Bonnet Syndrome... Peduncular hallucinosis has been associated with other central nervous system pathologies, including vascular and infectious pontine, midbrain, and thalamic lesions.. Common hallucinations experienced by these individuals include people, animals, landscapes, grotesque and deformed faces, repeated patterns, and Lilliputian hallucinations. Lilliputian hallucinations are visual phenomena in which the hallucinations are miniature in size.

Your writing will start with the simple grids / branching patterns which initially are very alarming. Then he gets used to them.

In a study done in the United Kingdom, 38% of the 492 subjects described the visual hallucinations as frightening, terrifying, and startling during the initial onset of them. Over time, their emotions towards the hallucinations decreased to 8%...

But the visions do not stay static. They change, becoming more realistic and more alarming. The Lilliputian phenomenon would be a good one for prose. As the hallucinations progress your characters ability to realize what they are and deal with them decreases, because the brain tumor responsible for his decline is affecting other things too. At the same time his ability to see the real world is decreasing. He interacts with the visions. He mistakes actual things for visions. He resorts to feeling things with his hands to sort out what is real and what is not.

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