Hallucinations in Nonpsychotic Children: More Common Than We Think?

Herbert A. Schreier, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 1999, 38, 5, 623–625.

Abstract: Hallucinations have been described in a variety of childhood psychiatric conditions, and although considered by some to be synonymous with psychopathology, they may also be found in healthy children. There is reason to believe that hallucinations are underreported in both clinical and nonclinical populations. The National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiulogical Catchment Area study, cited by Fennig et al. (1997), found that 2.8% of adults reported hallucinating before they were 21 years old. Our knowledge of the nature and consequences of hallucinations in childhood is biased by the populations in which they have been studied, and we often do not know whether our patients hallucinate because we do not ask. Furer et al. (1957) found that children were only mildly reluctant to talk about voices they heard, and in their study of a group of child psychiatric inpatients they reported that the children’s long-term therapists rarely knew about the hallucinations!