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Misleading hallucinations in unrecognized narcolepsy

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Szűcs A, Janszky J, Holló A, Migléczi G, Halász P. Misleading hallucinations in unrecognized narcolepsy.

Acta Psychiatr Scand 2003: 108: 314–317. © Blackwell Munksgaard 2003. Objective:

To describe psychosis-like hallucinatory states in unrecognized narcolepsy. Method:

Two patients with hypnagogic/hypnapompic hallucinations are presented. Results:

Both patients had realistic and complex – multi-modal and scenic-daytime sexual hallucinations leading, in the first case, to a legal procedure because of false accusation, and in the second, to serious workplace conflicts. Both patients were convinced of the reality of their hallucinatory experiences but later both were able to recognize their hallucinatory character. Clinical data, a multiple sleep latency test, polysomnography, and HLA typing revealed that both patients suffered from narcolepsy. Conclusion:

We suggest that in unrecognized narcolepsy with daytime hypnagogic/hypnapompic hallucinations the diagnostic procedure may mistakenly incline towards delusional psychoses. Daytime realistic hypnagogic/hypnapompic hallucinations may also have forensic consequences and mislead legal evaluation. Useful clinical features in differentiating narcolepsy from psychoses are: the presence of other narcoleptic symptoms, features of hallucinations, and response to adequate medication.
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Keywords: delusion; differential diagnosis; hallucination; hypnagogic; narcolepsy; psychosis

Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: Department of Neurology, National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Budapest, Hungary

Publication date: 2003-10-01

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