Why do people with schizophrenia hear and see things that are not real?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Hearing and seeing things that are not real, also known as auditory and visual hallucinations, are psychotic symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Experts don't know the exact cause of the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, although research has revealed that an underlying chemical imbalance in the brain plays a role. Schizophrenia appears to be genetic to some degree, and close relatives are more likely to share a diagnosis of schizophrenia than the general population.

Hallucinations, such as hearing and seeing things that are not real, can be reduced or eliminated when one receives medication treatment for schizophrenia. Without treatment, hallucinations will most likely continue and potentially increase.

Continue Learning about Schizophrenia


Schizophrenia is a disorder that shows its symptoms in the late teens to early 20s. You hear voices, see things that aren't there, believe others are after you, which makes you paranoid. Schizophrenia is a very serious disorder, r...

equiring medications and psychotherapy - which, for many people, can greatly improve quality of life.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.