Distorted Consciousness

Sometimes you can observe patients pull at their tubings, try to get out of their beds, or struggle with necessary restraints. They may sound unintelligible or paranoid. About 14% of the patients studied reported having these experiences. They were all aware, yet that awareness was generally distorted into a belief that they were being held captive or experimented upon. One woman, who was in isolation, thought she had been captured by foreign spies because of the precaution gowns staff were wearing.

Another version of this category is a paranoid misinterpretation of normal occurrences. One patient believed the reason her husband was always smiling and cheerful when he visited was because he was having an affair with a nurse. While this was a humorous story after she recovered, she quite thoroughly believed it at the time. She went so far as to threaten her husband with divorce.

Hallucinations were also common during this state. One man saw blood running down the wall of his hospital room. He was alert enough to realize this couldn't be happening, yet it was what he was seeing.

In this state, patients need to be told over and over again where they are, what is being done, and who is taking care of them. The patients who have had head injuries may not remember what was told to them even a few minutes before, and need constant reminders of their situation.

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Patients can experience hallucinations, delusions, and memory losses during episodes of diminished or distorted consciousness.