What Is a False Perception?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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The term false perception may refer to a number of different things. A person may have false perceptions about the world around them, their bodies, or information that they think they know correctly. A hallucination is another type of of false perception and occurs when a person experiences sensory stimuli that are not actually present. Though everyone, at times, believes some things that are not correct, perceiving the world incorrectly can lead to health problems, especially when these perceptions are related to the person's body. In many cases, people with false ideas have difficulty abandoning them, even when contrary and irrefutable evidence is presented.

A hallucination is a type of false perception that causes a patient to experience things that are not real to the rest of the people around them. Sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and physical sensations that are not real can all be experienced during a hallucination. Patients with long-term mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, may experience these kinds of perceptions throughout their lives, though medication and therapy can help eliminate or decrease the severity of hallucinations. Some medications and chemical substances can also cause hallucinations that usually wear off as the drug is metabolized.


In some people, a false perception about health can lead to serious health complications. One of the features of anorexia, for example, is an untrue perception that can cause patients to view themselves as fat even when those around see that they are dangerously thin. People who engage in potentially dangerous activities, such as binge drinking or smoking, may have the untrue perception that these activities are not as dangerous as they are or that the ill effects are not likely to affect them. These types of perceptions can cause serious problems because patients may continue to endanger their lives even when doctors, families, and friends explain how dangerous the behaviors are.

There are many reasons why a person might develop a false perception. In many cases, these perceptions may be caused by a lack of information or by misinformation. A feeling of invincibility can also lead to incorrect perceptions, especially when it comes to acknowledging the realistic danger of a behavior. It is also possible for a person to cling to the perception irrationally because of an emotional attachment to a belief or way of thinking. In many cases, convincing a person that a perception is false is extremely difficult, even when there is significant evidence to indicate that the person's perception is incorrect.


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Post 4

It boggles my mind that an anorexic person can look in the mirror and see a fat person. This is the most extreme false perception that I can think of, and it's also one of the most dangerous.

Post 3

@giddion – I also think that social anxiety is based on a lot of false perceptions. I used to struggle with this, and at the time, I believed that everyone was looking at me and judging me.

This crippled me, and I avoided social situations. I even had trouble talking to people at work for fear of what they might think of me.

Medication helped a great deal. It allowed me to take a step back, calm down, and see that most people were so busy with their own lives and insecurities that they had no time to examine mine.

Post 2

Paranoia is based on false perceptions. Schizophrenics have problems with this, as do some drug users.

I knew a guy who had done a lot of drugs, and he had so many false perceptions that it was hard to talk to him. He believed that everyone was conspiring against him, and he eventually ended up living as a hermit.

Post 1

My coworker had a strong false perception that the world would end in 2012. He went so far as to sell a lot of his belongings and quit his job.

He wanted to enjoy his last few weeks on this earth, so he freed himself from his possessions. I'm sure he was sorely disappointed on January 1, 2013.

He didn't try to get his job back, probably because he was ashamed. I do believe he will be a little more reserved in the future because of this, though.

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