We’ve had a cold winter this year in California. Not as cold as Chicago winters but 'cold' with California standards.
A few days ago I was driving down the street in my neighborhood and it was cold and windy.
I noticed this man lying on the left side of his body on the sidewalk, with a few bags around him. I wasn’t sure if he was hurt or needed help, I stopped my car, got out and walked towards him. He was lying on his right side and holding a book in front of his face as if he was reading it although by second look one could see that the homeless man was not looking at the pages of, a thick paperback book.
I kept my distance out of respect for his privacy and asked:
“Are you OK?”
His eyes were half closed and he was mumbling as if talking to someone. He had raised his left leg off the ground while moving it up and down.
I asked again:
“Are you OK?”
He finally noticed me and tilted his head up towards me, looked at me and said with a smile.
“Yes, thank you”
He was a white man in his fifties with kind blue eyes.
“It’s my leg.” He continued.
I asked him:
“Do you need anything?
He smiled again but he wasn’t looking at me anymore with his eyes half closed. He continued the conversation he had with that other imaginary someone as he kept his book open in front of his face.
Did he see himself lying on a comfortable carpet?
Didn’t he feel the cold wind blowing?
He was lying there on the cold sidewalk but in his head he probably saw himself in a bright comfortable place where he was lying down reading his book, exercising his leg and talking to his friend. And when I came in and interrupted his conversation with that imaginary someone, he had a cordial informative conversation with me too.
Was he hallucinating?
It is not widely recognized that hallucinatory experiences are not merely the prerogative of those suffering from mental illness, or normal people in abnormal states, but that they occur spontaneously in a significant proportion of the normal population, when in good health and not undergoing particular stress or other abnormal circumstance"
Ordinary people, migraine sufferers, epileptics, alcoholics, drug-takers (and not just street drugs) or those deprived of them too abruptly also hallucinate.