Lightning strike triggers 20 hours of vivid and bizarre hallucinations

Vaughan of Mind Hacks came across a paper about a 23-year-old woman who was mountain climbing and got struck by lightning (a "bolt from the blue" in a sky that was "clear and sunny"). Upon waking from a three-day-long medically-induced coma, she experienced a series of hyperreal hallucinations that remind me of drawings from one of R. Crumb's sketchbooks.
These exclusively visual sensations consisted of unknown people, animals and objects acting in different scenes, like a movie. None of the persons or scenes was familiar to her and she was severely frightened by their occurrence. For example, an old lady was sitting on a ribbed radiator, then becoming thinner and thinner, and finally vanishing through the slots of the radiator.

Later, on her left side a cowboy riding on a horse came from the distance. As he approached her, he tried to shoot her, making her feel defenceless because she could not move or shout for help. In another scene, two male doctors, one fair and one dark haired, and a woman, all with strange metal glasses and unnatural brownish-red faces, were tanning in front of a sunbed, then having sexual intercourse and afterwards trying to draw blood from her. These formed hallucinations, partially with delusional character, were in the whole visual field and constantly present for approximately 20 h. At the time of appearance, the patient was not sure whether they were real or unreal, but did not report them for fear that she might be considered insane.

Bolt from the blue triggers bizzare hallucinations


  1. I would gather that the hallucinations were caused by “a three-day-long medically-induced coma” rather than the lightning strike.

  2. I’m pretty sure this is how religions got started back in the day. I mean, seriously, her experience sounds a lot like the book of revelations.

    (nowadays, authors just write bullshit for the gullible to take their money.)

  3. Reading the abstract, the unusual aspect of this seems to be that the hallucinations occurred months after the coma – I don’t think it’s entirely unusual to have all sorts of weird stuff going on in one’s mind as a result of a medically-induced coma.

    A friend spent several months in a medically induced coma following a serious fall a couple of years ago, and came back with vivid memories of living in London during the Blitz – but when he later tried to trace some of the places he’d visited he discovered they’d never existed. And my father spent a week massively sedated last year following major aortic surgery, and experienced quite bizarre hallucinations for a day or two after coming round. As it happens, these also included men on horseback, except in his case they were riding around on the roof of a building he could see from his bed…

  4. i agree with crubellier – seems more likely the title of the post should be “medically induced coma triggers…”

  5. “At the time of appearance, the patient was not sure whether they were real or unreal, but did not report them for fear that she might be considered insane.”

    This is so telling about the state of mental health care in this nation. Sure we like to explore decaying asylums and marvel at the grotesque oddities left behind, but now that they’re closed are people really safe in the facilities left behind? If you need help, you shouldn’t have to fear being hurt as the “cure”.

  6. Welcome to my world. After 40 years of heavy drinking and 4 years of sobriety, this sounds like the dreams I experience every night. I thought I was sensitive to broadcast waves since I rarely know any of the people in my dreams. I remember my dreams almost every night, share them with people who are interested in this kind of stuff, and I can tell when I am about to fall into deep sleep by the bizarre and unknown faces that jump out of the darkness behind my closed eyes. I’ve dreamed of the end of the world where everything ceased to exist by I was still aware, of creatures coming from other dimensions and escaping the instant of death by awakening into another dream. I no longer feel fear and my dreams are not just visual, sometimes with selective color, but physical sensations as well.

  7. Well, I would suggest that perhaps we DO live within a multi-verse of coinciding dimensions, realities,what have you. Our brains are trained to not pay attention to all of that “outer noise” , but sometimes someone gets a clear signal. Welcome to awareness of multi-dimensional living.

Comments are closed.