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Is It Normal to See Things that Aren’t There?

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From a teen in France: I sometimes see things that aren’t there. It doesn’t happen often, but I do. I sometimes see shadows that aren’t there from the corner of my eyes ( I know that they aren’t there because when I turn to look at them they’re gone ), but apparently it happens to a lot of people so although it’s kind of scary it doesn’t worry me.

I used to see my cat, too, from the corner of my eyes, while he was still at my grandparents’, but I guess it may have been due to light and shadows ( of furniture ) and to me thinking about him and missing him, so it doesn’t really worry me either.

What worries me, though, are spiders. I saw one twice, so that’s not much but the thing is, unlike with the shadows, I really thought they were real. They both had a red head, a red body and golden legs. Both times it was late at night ( or early in the morning, it’s up to you ) and I hadn’t gotten much sleep in a few days but I wasn’t that tired.

One time the spider was next to me on a wall that was, like, 30 mm from my bed, and I saw it when I woke up during the night and went to sleep in another bedroom ( after having told my mum about it and having found nothing upon returning to my room with her ). The other time, which was yesterday, I saw it BEFORE I went to sleep ( I might’ve closed my eyes for, like, 10 min with the light off then switched the light back on but I didn’t fall asleep ) and my cat was right next to it but didn’t see it, and at first it was on a wall then it went on the floor and on another wall in front of the first one then back on the floor, and it was scaring me to death so I killed it with a shoe, and proceeded to avoid the shoe the following day only to discover that there was no spider under the shoe. I know that it’s not much but I’m still worried, why do you think I see these things ( especially the spiders ) that aren’t there ?

Is It Normal to See Things that Aren’t There?

Answered by on -


I think you may be experiencing Hypnogogic Hallucinations due to being more tired than you think you were. These are hallucinations of sights, sounds and sometimes touch when in a dream state or when in the early stages of sleep. Such hallucinations seem very, very real. Since you already don’t like spiders, it makes sense to me that spiders would be the content of a nightmare.

I don’t think you have to worry about your state of mind. Hypnogogic Hallucinations are not that unusual. For prevention, my best suggestion to you is that you work on getting a reliable 8 – 9 hours of sleep every night.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is It Normal to See Things that Aren’t There?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is It Normal to See Things that Aren’t There?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 20 Aug 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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