20 People Suffering From Psychosis Describe The Most Terrifying Hallucinations They’ve Ever Experienced

A stone wall with a scary looking demon
Unsplash / Dan Burton

Found on Ask Reddit


Fortunately the scariest I’ve ever had is just people calling my name from another room when I know I’m the only person in the house. My audible hallucinations don’t have a great vocabulary, and most of the time just sound like someone doing jazz scat, which is kind of annoying and makes it hard to sleep. Visually I’ll sometimes see people standing in windows who aren’t there on a second glance, or small shadows darting around like mice. I’m extremely fortunate that my symptoms are relatively mild.

— Dieselite


My friend in college was schizophrenic. We were once hanging out in his dorm room at night (maybe 11pm/midnight) and he got up to go to the bathroom… He opened the door and stopped, staring at the empty hallway. He asked me to come to the door and tell him if something seemed weird. I walk up to the door and see nothing strange in the hall and tell him so. He asks me if I can hear something, I say no. He said he heard muffled crying or arguing or something coming from down the hall. And he saw a pitch black hallway when it was actually fully lit. He said the hall was BLACK not just dark or dimly lit. At this point he is shaking and I’m terrified because I don’t know he’s sick, we’re both on the verge of tears. I’m not even sure he knew he was sick at the time. I ended up walking him to the bathroom and then spending the night in his room because he could still hear someone crying in the hall. I thought for the longest time he was pulling my leg, but he ended up going to therapy and getting on meds very shortly after that night, so it was a terrifying and very real moment for him too.

— eaterofcuredmeats


Brother is schizophrenic and had insane hallucinations for about a year before I could get him help. He constantly believed people were assaulting him, trying to rape him and trying to kill him. On one occasion he ran so long to get away from them he was admitted into the hospital for heat exhaustion. He didn’t understand why we wouldn’t help him and would lash out at us. He’s now severely medicated and no where near the person he once was.

— desireex3


Somebody I knew back in high school had schizophrenia, but was taking medication for it. She accidentally skipped a dose once and she came to school hysterical that she didn’t want to go back home because she heard someone chewing human meat under her bed. Human meat. How does one even know what that sounds like?

— pringle-prangle


Schizoaffective disorder here, but that’s close enough, I think.

Most of the time my hallucinations are pretty mundane, but I do recall a few extreme ones. Worst of all would have to have been the time I was convinced I was being abducted by aliens.

I was in bed and staring at the ceiling when a bright light appeared like a circle above me. And I felt like I was being raised up into the air from a center point in my chest. I could see shadowy figures gathered all around the bed looking at me being lifted and they were all whispering, but the whispers gradually grew louder until it was like the sound of wind. But I somehow snapped back into reality, very frightened but obviously unscathed. That had to have been the most intense hallucination I’ve had in my life.

Sometimes I’ve been known to talk to (apparently disturbing?) things that aren’t there but I have dissociative amnesia and don’t often remember doing so. That’s all filled in by people I know who have observed me, though I never really know if they’re telling me the truth which does bug me a lot. I have a lot of paranoia surrounding people telling me what I’ve done in dissociative episodes and them just lying to me to get me to think a certain way about myself or something.

I don’t know, it’s rough never being sure of anything.

— Kineke



I had a patient with schizophrenia. Full visual and auditory hallucinations. Off of his meds and screaming in public. Demons were coming out of the ground trying to grab him. They were yelling at him various obscene things.

Weird part was that once we are on scene, he calmed down and recognized the uniforms. Fully cooperative, but that was an interesting patient history.

Are you having hallucinations?

Yup. describes them in detail

So how are you so calm right now?

This is normal when I am off my meds and I know I am in an ambulance.


— Engineer1822


I’m prone to occasional psychotic episodes, no formal diagnosis has been made to include this, I have previously been diagnosed with BPD but it’s not really common to have episodes of psychosis with BPD so I’m waiting to be re-evaluated.

I was admitted to the crisis ward in November because I was 100% convinced my whole body was rotting from the inside out. I was decomposing from within and it was spreading outward to my extremities.

This was terrifying for me, not because I was afraid of dying but because no-one believed me that I was decomposing, no-one saw it as an issue. And realizing that my reality is not reality was so traumatic and isolating.

I’m really not looking forward to the next inevitable episode.

— DreyaNova


First off i just wanna say I have hallucinations categorized as psychosis instead of schizophrenia (they do this when your symptoms don’t quite line up with/aren’t bad enough for the regular diagnoses), and I can tell you I have actually pissed myself in fear from some of my hallucinations. I can’t even imagine how bad it must be for people whose symptoms line up with schizophrenia.

As for my scariest hallucination? It will always be my first visual hallucination.
I was in school, like, 10th grade, and I’d heard voices for a bit now, to the point that I was almost getting used to the fact that I hear things others don’t. I remember getting up from my desk to use the toilet, and when I got out of the room, I see this man with no face, just standing there facing me. At first I just thought my eyes were messing with me, so I blink a couple times, shake my head a little bit, and look back. And he’s gone. No way he could have moved in those empty, silent hallways without me hearing it, but he’s gone. So I just go to the bathroom, thinking it’s kinda weird, but not thinking too much about it. I even joked with myself that “now I’m seeing things too haha”. But when I got to the bathroom, he’s there again, standing in the doorway. I stop and just kind of stare for a second, more curious than anything, then I think: “well maybe he’s just wearing a mask or something”, and I ask if he can move over and let me in the bathroom, but then this other kid comes out and asks who I’m talking to, right as he walks through the faceless guy. I just stand there, speechless, cause what do you say in that situation? The kid looks at me like I’m weird, but then just walks away. The dude with no face moves over to let me by, and I give him as wide a berth as I can while I go in, never taking my eyes off him. He followed me into the bathroom, and a few seconds later this girl walks in, and I begin telling her that she’s in the wrong bathroom (I’m a guy fwi), when I notice that she doesn’t have a face either. They both begin walking towards me, and at that point I’m pretty damn scared, so I go and hide in one of the stalls and bawl my eyes out, cause at this point I realize that I’m pretty much just crazy. I didn’t come out until the staff came and talked me into it.

The two of them (the guy and the girl) show up every now and again (note, I’ve since graduated and moved away from there, but they still show up wherever I am), but they never do anything, so I don’t know what to make of it, but that first time scared the living shit out of me.

— idk_just_bored


One of the veins in my eye was actually a worm that was eating my brain and thats why i had headaches. Also: random sharp pains and itches are bugs crawling all over my skin, trapped in my shoes, etc. I double check my shoes every time i put them on with a flashlight but still have to take them off occasionally to check.

— thegirlfromthestars


Number one scariest was the first time. I was in the bathroom and suddenly I hear what sounded like a mob of people shouting and threatening they were coming to kill me and burn me alive. I had never experienced this before and it sounded just like real people were outside my house. I almost had a heart-attack. I went to the window and saw everything was quiet. I waited, because I thought maybe they are far away. I waited and waited and then I went out looking for them. After a while I realized that I was probably going crazy.

The second scariest was when the aliens were coming and they would cut my head off. They would keep it alive using alien technology and after raping it and humiliating it, they would lock it in a dark basement with nothing around. So I was just going to be a body-less head mounted on a wall in a dark basement until the end of time.

But really this is just describing with words, what cannot be described. It’s like trying to describe an acid trip. You can’t really do it. And this was like 100 times more potent than an acid trip.

— blueblue43


I’m not schizophrenic but I get psychotic episodes. My hallucinations tend to stick to one sense but sometimes kind of bleed into eachother. I often hallucinate bugs on surfaces that aren’t there (as I try to squish them without anything happening).

I suppose the scariest one was a body lying on the floor of my bedroom and it was wheezing; for me, each sense has a different impact when I hallucinate something.

Hearing something is extremely distracting and annoying but isn’t scary (anymore). Seeing something usually spikes my fear response, as well as tactile hallucinations. Thank god it’s never happened before that a hallucination was occupying all of my senses at the same time. I’m not sure if I could handle that.

— DistressedCarbon


Snipers. One Friday evening I was watching TV, and happened to be playing with a flashlight that I’d left on the coffee table. Boom, next thing you know I’m in a full blown hallucination. I heard a special forces team out the window, as they were sneaking out of my back yard. I flashed the light around the room, and they got quiet, and they misunderstood my intent; they thought the light was mounted on a rifle.

Next thing you know they’re calling me outside as part of a SWAT response, and I’m on my hands and knees on my porch in the dead of knight, asking them to please not shoot me. I must have stayed out there about two hours, with my hands locked behind my head, as the snipers got more and more nervous about what I might do.

Eventually they decided that there was no way to defuse the situation, and they shot me. I spent about five minutes laying dead on my front porch, then crawled inside my house to die. I phoned my mom to let her know that I’d been shot and that special forces had killed me. Needless to say she wasn’t buying it, and talked me down to earth a little bit, but that wasn’t the end of it.

She had me go to the ER, and stayed with me on the phone until I got there. I’m still in full blown hallucination mode, so while I’m waiting in the ER I hear the leader of the special forces unit chatting with the front desk nurse. He knows that I’m there, and is coming to get me. Luckily the doctor found me first, and didn’t really know what to do with me, so he gave me 2 milligrams of Ativan and discharged me.

So I drive home, still hallucinating and now somewhat high from the Ativan, and I see all types of crazy stuff on the way home. Once I get home the Ativan mellows the hallucinations into something enjoyable, and I spend the rest of the weekend with playful hallucinations.

I can’t really describe the fear of having special forces snipers aiming at you for two hours straight.

— Brazieroflive


Schizoaffective, bipolar subtype.

It’s not a specific hallucination, but sometimes I have very vivid memories of things that didn’t happen. And they make me second guess every single thing that I can remember or know because if my memory failed me once, why wouldn’t it fail me twice?

And then everything spirals downwards.

— high_pH_bitch


I am a social worker. One of my clients said he would see clown faces (but with empty eye sockets) reflected in his bedroom and car windows.

— TherelsNoPepeSiIvia


Hey finally a question I can answer. I have voices that tell me they’re necromancers trying to steal my soul and take over my body. They try to convince me theyre real people all day every day. The scariest time was when my heart was beating incredibly fast and they told me that they had control of my heart and were going to speed it up until they killed me. At one point I totally believed they were real, but I don’t anymore. I proved them to be just voices with logic, thanks to some help from the internet.

— OsamaBinBrahmin


Not a schizophrenic but I hallucinated a fair bit as a teen, and still sometimes now (unsure of the triggers for them, it just happens sometimes, no drugs involved)

The most unnerving thing I’ve seen was a creature, as tall as the inside of a house stooped over on my neighbors veranda. It looked like a person, but stretched out. Hollow face/eyes, just staring at me. I would look away for a minute, and then back and it was still staring. Just watching. I was 16 at the time, and i’d see smaller versions of these guys everywhere. But this one was huge, and refused to go. Eventually I fell asleep, and he wasn’t there when I woke back up.

— thinking_about_cats


Had a patient with lewy body dementia. Not schizophrenia, but produced horrific hallucinations. I was working noc shift (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and my office was close to her room. She would scream and scream and scream all night long. I would go and sit with her and ask her if something was scaring her. She saw people waiting in the shadows in the corner of her room. She heard them laughing. Saw their faces contourting. She felt rats crawling up and down her body. FELT them crawling into her and raping her, biting her from the inside, then coming out of her eyes. She was still pretty with it and you were able to have lucid conversations with her. Had a sense of humor like you wouldn’t believe. She knew what she was experiencing were hallucinations. But that didnt make them any less real to her. Eventually she stopped being able to decern what was real and what wasnt. She died a few months ago. I worked with her for two years and miss her every damn day. But I’m grateful that she is no longer suffering.

— satanshonda


Primarily auditory hallucinations here, once experienced the onset of an episode during which one of my familiar voices died. Violently. Cried for help through direct interaction with me and continued to let out tortured cries the entire time until I was heavily sedated. Came to approximately a day later and I haven’t heard from him since. I’ve experienced darker, and objectively more disturbing content from them, but hearing one of them cry for help as it passed was one of the hardest hallucinations I’ve experienced.

— EM2thless


I’m Schizoaffective.

I attempted suicide two years ago. While I was in recovery, not in a psych ward but actually still being hospitalized, I was having a hard time staying awake for any period of time.

I woke up at one point and realized there was a freakishly tall person in a black suit standing next to my bed, leaning over me. I got this horrific sense of dread, like I was about to die, and I knew he had come for me. I looked up at his face and it had no features, like Slenderman. I closed my eyes and screamed as loud as I could, calling in the nurses who had to fight to get me to calm down.

Part of me still wonders if it was a reaper that had come to take my soul.



No diagnosis here, but I’ve been suffering from constant delusions, paranoia and hallucinations for the past two years. The scariest hallucination I’ve ever had took place in a Target. I was in the canned food isle when I saw a little girl grab a can. There was nothing particularly unusual about it. I, at first, figured it was just a girl getting something off the shelf for her mom. But then, after awhile of standing with the can in her hands in silence, she turned around and stared at me with her empty eye sockets. She opened the can and started chasing me around the store with the can top (they’re really sharp) and I started running through the store to escape. I know it’s stupid, but it felt really real. Anyway, I ended up tripping and the next thing I knew, she handed me the can top and was controlling my arms. I felt myself cut my neck and wrists open and was basically screaming. But then, I knocked myself out of it. When I came to, I was just standing staring at the cans with tears streaming down my face. It’s the most vivid hallucination I’ve ever had, and much scarier than the ones I have everyday.

— friendofthefire Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Callie Byrnes

Callie is a writer, editor, and publisher at Thought Catalog. Her debut book, ‘The Words We Left Behind,’ was released in January 2024.

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