Visual hallucinations associated with multimodal hallucinations, suicide attempts and morbidity of illness in psychotic disorders Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Visual hallucinations (VH) are a common, but understudied symptom of psychosis, experienced by individuals across diagnostic categories of psychotic and neuropsychiatric conditions. There are limited data on VH and associated clinical phenotypes in adult idiopathic psychotic disorders, which are needed to elucidate their relevance to psychotic illness paradigms. METHOD:In this cross-sectional study, we examined clinical risk factors for VH in a well-characterized sample of 766 patients with adult psychotic disorders across diagnostic categories of schizophrenia (n = 227), schizoaffective disorder (n = 210), and bipolar I disorder (n = 329). The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR was used for diagnosis and symptom measurements. RESULTS:The prevalence of VH was 26.1% (200/766). Multivariate logistic regression showed that VH were independently associated with the presence of hallucinations in other modalities, including auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory hallucinations. History of a suicide attempt and catatonic behavior were also associated with VH. In addition, specific delusions were associated with VH, in particular, delusions of control, and religious, erotomanic and jealousy delusions. Diagnosis, negative symptoms, and family history of psychosis were not independent predictors of VH. CONCLUSIONS:Results showed the clinical and disease relevance of VH as they were associated with severe morbidity of illness, including suicide attempts and catatonic behavior. Findings also suggest a phenotype associated with hallucinations in other modalities and specific types of delusions. Based on our findings, VH may be a significant factor in assessing for suicidality and illness severity, warranting clinical attention and further study of underlying mechanisms.


  • Chouinard, Virginie-Anne
  • Shinn, Ann K
  • Valeri, Linda
  • Chouinard, Philippe A
  • Gardner, Margaret E
  • Asan, A Esin
  • Cohen, Bruce M
  • Öngür, Dost

publication date

  • 2019