Hallucinations and Psychology: What Happens When You Read?


I’ve talked a bit about the health benefits of writing, but what does reading do to the human body? Luckily the fine folks at the University of Virginia Library have put together an infographic on just that topic.

During the first stages of reading, the tactile senses are engaged, and people enjoy things like that book smell. Then people begin to experience auditory and visual hallucinations. Readers become entwined with the book’s narrative. Though some of the stages listed by the folks at UVA are a bit tongue-in-cheek, the graphic presents an optimistic overview of how people’s bodies and minds respond to reading.

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Image Attribution: University of Virginia Library, “What Happens One Hour (and More) after Opening a Book,” Accessed 31 January 2017,

24 thoughts on “Hallucinations and Psychology: What Happens When You Read?

  1. Reblogged this on WL Hawkin and commented:
    And now something light, but true.
    If this is what readers experience, imagine what happens to writers. I LIVE somewhere between two and five, in the all consuming life of the book. I’d like to see a video on what happens to the brain when we read and write. I’ve seen what happens on music, and it’s extraordinary…a symphony of light. Thanks Kristen, for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Last week I had a marathon reading session (2 days straight) where I read Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life from start to finish. Well I did skip around 60 pages towards the end but basically I read almost all 720 pages in one hit. Not sure if you know the novel but it is INTENSE & there were a few times when I could feel my brain starting to spin with the horror of it all and I had to step away for a short break. I’m not sure what the overall effects on my body and brain were, but I think I underwent quite a bit of stress!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. [Jumped over from Kate McClelland’s reblog]
    LOVE the infographic – hallucinations, lol!

    Are you aware of the book Proust and the Squid? (Dr. Maryanne Wolf – linguistic neuroscientist). An article about it is in my drafts folder – I’ll link here when I eventually finish and publish. Watch for pings. Eventually. 🙂
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I only read actual paperbacks or hardbacks and I love the smell of a book and the feel of the pages. I would never swap an actual physical copy of a book for any ebook.

    Liked by 1 person

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