People Who Hear Voices

#1
Hi All,
I recently came across some information that I found most surprising. Apparently around 10% of people hear voices and are not necessarily insane!
My understanding has always been that if you hear voices, by this I mean disembodied voices, you were essentially insane. I am not alone in this because this is apparently generally accepted as a strong indication of underlying schizophrenia. However there is now a growing international movement of "People Who Hear Voices".
Mostly when people hear voices they quickly learn not to reveal it to others for fear of the potential horror of being committed as a mad person. These voices are not necessarily bad and voice hearers become accustomed to hosting a convention of disembodied 'spirits' all chattering away in their heads. They hear the voices through the auditory systems in their brains so they seem to be like actual conversations not like internal thoughts. Really amazing stuff.
There are audio clips on the net that demonstrate what this must be like using actor's voices.
It seems that hearing voices is a different manifestation of the spiritual experience in the same sort of way that near death experiences, out of the body experiences and alien abduction experiences are.
It turns out voice hearers can lead productive lives while hosting large numbers of apparently different personalities living inside their heads and conversing with each other on a regular basis.
Many historical figures were / are voice hearers. Joan of Ark, Socrates, the old testament in the bible is full of them. More recently apparently Winston Churchill heard voices and most astonishingly George Bush once claimed to have heard "The Voice of God".
There is some fascinating stuff on the net and particularly on a web site called - wait for it . . . .www.madnessradio.net
The show's host is a guy called Will Hall who is himself a voice hearer. He is both erudite and knowledgeable and would, I believe, be a most interesting guest on skeptiko. Alex I hope you are listening - to my posting not just to the voices inside your head - ha ha.
Since apparent around 10% of people hear voices at one time or another during their lives there are probably a number active on this forum. If so do yourselves a favour and have a look and listen at madness radio.
Best regards and good listening
Robin
 
#2
If only Saint Paul knew about this... We could have saved us centuries of struggles and even wars! :D

Sorry, a touch of dark irony... but yes this is known phenomena for which there are probably many diverse explanations, from the most mundane to the spiritual ones.
Some mediums have had their initial experiences by hearing voices and I know the case of at least two of them who where hospitalized for schizophrenia and have almost gone crazy while in the asylum. :(

But of course many instances are possibly explained by physiological problems, neurological issues, etc... It is very difficult to put all the different cases in a single "basket". I spent some time reading some of the experiences on the "Hearing voices" websites, mostly out of curiosity, and noticed that their incidence, variety and frequency can be so dramatically diverse. A minority of them have strong parallels with mystical experiences or psi phenomena... it's intriguing. Must be annoying too, often times :(

cheers
 
#3
I've always been fascinated by the story of Joan of Arc - this is a story which gets told and re-told. It also gets re-interpreted according to the theories of the time. But its hard to erase the fact that something significant was going on. The lost and restored 1928 version, Carl Theodor Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is one such account. Intriguingly, the credits state that an intact copy was found in a cupboard in a Norwegian mental institution.

This re-telling and re-interpreting is something that happens in the more mundane cases too - physiological or neurological accounts may offer a description, but not necessarily an explanation. In my opinion one may run various differing explanations in parallel, rather than saying, if this view is right, then the other view must be wrong, it's perhaps the case that all are at least partially right, or have some merit.
 
#6
Yes. Someone I'm very close to admitted to me that they heard voices. They aren't insane, have no mental illnesses, are very intelligent and have zero problems with interacting normally with the world. I asked if the voices asked or told them to do bad things to themselves or others, and they said no, never. They said it was usually just chatter, sometimes commenting on what they were doing but not in a negative sense. They also said it was common for the voices to call out their name.

So I found one researcher in the Netherlands that did a study on children that hear voices and found it was extremely common. But most no longer heard them as they got older. She also found that the way in which the children were treated and what they were taught to think about the voices had a profound impact on how the children developed. She wrote a book about her findings, but it was hard to find. I finally found a copy on Amazon for $30 and had it imported to the US. The title is "Young People Hearing Voices". There is also a website
http://www.intervoiceonline.org

It was extremely helpful. It goes into a lot of detail how hearing voices is predominantly seen as pathological, and how treating people for this "affliction", even when the voices were causing no I'll effect, caused more harm than good. Very eye opening.

This person is still doing very well. Completely normal. I'm not sure if they still hear voices since it hasn't come up in a long time.
 
#7
Hi All,
I recently came across some information that I found most surprising. Apparently around 10% of people hear voices and are not necessarily insane!
My understanding has always been that if you hear voices, by this I mean disembodied voices, you were essentially insane.
??? Do you not realize that "insane" is a completely subjective term that comes down to "you don't operate according to what the status quo deems proper." I t wasn't all that long ago that homosexuality was considered a type of insanity.
 
#9
It's a fascinating phenomenon this. I try to imagine how it would feel like hearing a voice in my head, and find it kinda terrifying. I know many people speak of "the little voice in their head" but wonder if they mean an actual voice that acts like their conscience in situations, or if they use it as a figure of speech. I mean, when I think of mundane situations in my daily life, on how to act on a problem, or handle some situation etc. I don't do it in a way or form in a reasoning with myself with a voice, I just deduce based on earlier experience, knowledge, or common sense, and the way I act just presents itself, pretty straightforward, without a "discussion" with myself. I have never really wondered how others do it, but just taking it for granted that they do the same. It's just not a topic that comes up. :) It would be interesting hearing though, if some of you do "this" in another way - maybe with a "voice"?

I read somewhere, a while back, that some psychologist, who treated people who hear voices that were very abusive and "told" the patient in question to do bad things, hurting people etc, to instead of ignoring the voices, try to calmly listen and "reason" with their voices. When they did that, often the "voices" began to calm down, and wasn't that abusive anymore, and became more "reasonable" and didn't pester the person in question that much, anymore. This didn't work on all the patients, but for many it was a very effective. Maybe someone here have heard about this technique? I might remember it slightly wrong, but it was something to that effect, anyway.

About Joan of Arc - I wonder why the angels or saints she "spoked" to was on the French "side" in this war? Isn't that a bit arrogant thinking that they choose side in a territorial struggle between people of the same God?
 
#10
It's a fascinating phenomenon this. I try to imagine how it would feel like hearing a voice in my head, and find it kinda terrifying. I know many people speak of "the little voice in their head" but wonder if they mean an actual voice that acts like their conscience in situations, or if they use it as a figure of speech. I mean, when I think of mundane situations in my daily life, on how to act on a problem, or handle some situation etc. I don't do it in a way or form in a reasoning with myself with a voice, I just deduce based on earlier experience, knowledge, or common sense, and the way I act just presents itself, pretty straightforward, without a "discussion" with myself. I have never really wondered how others do it, but just taking it for granted that they do the same. It's just not a topic that comes up. :) It would be interesting hearing though, if some of you do "this" in another way - maybe with a "voice"?

I read somewhere, a while back, that some psychologist, who treated people who hear voices that were very abusive and "told" the patient in question to do bad things, hurting people etc, to instead of ignoring the voices, try to calmly listen and "reason" with their voices. When they did that, often the "voices" began to calm down, and wasn't that abusive anymore, and became more "reasonable" and didn't pester the person in question that much, anymore. This didn't work on all the patients, but for many it was a very effective. Maybe someone here have heard about this technique? I might remember it slightly wrong, but it was something to that effect, anyway.

About Joan of Arc - I wonder why the angels or saints she "spoked" to was on the French "side" in this war? Isn't that a bit arrogant thinking that they choose side in a territorial struggle between people of the same God?
Wait. Are you saying if, for example, you're deciding whether to go to the Chinese restaurant for lunch, or the Mexican restaurant, something similar to this conversation doesn't unfold:

Pollux: [out loud, assuming no one's around] I'm hungry. What do I feel like eating?
innerVoice: Chinese?
Pollux: Eh, had it Monday.
innerVoice: Mexican then.
Pollux: Maybe, but I was planning on having that Indian food for supper.
innerVoice: That's not gonna end well.
Pollux: On the other hand, I could go with the Chinese place and eat light.
innerVoice: Ooh, it's Orange Chicken Day there too!
Pollux: Yeah! Let's do that!

Because if that's not normal, then I... hmm... (<.<) (>.>) (<.<)
 
#11
About Joan of Arc - I wonder why the angels or saints she "spoked" to was on the French "side" in this war? Isn't that a bit arrogant thinking that they choose side in a territorial struggle between people of the same God?
I came across an answer to that somewhere. It has more to do with the long sweep of history over the centuries, than any immediate losses or gains in a particular conflict.
 
#12
Wait. Are you saying if, for example, you're deciding whether to go to the Chinese restaurant for lunch, or the Mexican restaurant, something similar to this conversation doesn't unfold:

Pollux: [out loud, assuming no one's around] I'm hungry. What do I feel like eating?
innerVoice: Chinese?
Pollux: Eh, had it Monday.
innerVoice: Mexican then.
Pollux: Maybe, but I was planning on having that Indian food for supper.
innerVoice: That's not gonna end well.
Pollux: On the other hand, I could go with the Chinese place and eat light.
innerVoice: Ooh, it's Orange Chicken Day there too!
Pollux: Yeah! Let's do that!

Because if that's not normal, then I... hmm... (<.<) (>.>) (<.<)
Nope, I pretty quick scan through what I feel like eating, depending on how long ago I was eating it, or just gut-feeling an impulse like; yeah chicken would be nice today - "bang;" decided. :) On bigger issues, like, buying a house, or a car, etc, it is more of weighing options back and forth, with costs, function, taste, placement, style, etc. like a calculation. Then I "put it on the back-burner" in my unconscious, and let it "brew" there for a while, and develop itself to a conscious decision that are good compromise. But of course I weigh these thoughts back and forth, but its not like I think;
-Hey Pollux, what do "you" think about this car? Do you like the colour?
-Nah, I had a red one before. Wouldn't it be better with a blue one this time?
-I dont know!?! Do you think so?
-Yeah, I think you should go with the blue one this time.
-OK, done!!


It just don't progress that way for me. Maybe I'm the odd one out here. :D
 
#13
I like to think that God's view/plan of mankind is similar to Hari Seldon's concept of Psychohistory in Isaac Asimov's "Foundation": a fatalistic model on a literally universal scale, encompassing and accounting for the flow and progress of countless empires and nations, ideas and campaigns, sciences and faiths, climates and habitats, all that is seen and unseen, virtually untouchable by the actions of a single person amongst the billions who have passed and will pass, less so amongst the quadrillions of animals and insects which have resided on the earth, all heading in a sluggish march towards some incomprehensible point. In this sense, we'd be the Foundation, whereas the angels, discarnates, and all spiritual elements would be the Second Foundation.
 
#14
Nope, I pretty quick scan through what I feel like eating, depending on how long ago I was eating it, or just gut-feeling an impulse like; yeah chicken would be nice today - "bang;" decided. :) On bigger issues, like, buying a house, or a car, etc, it is more of weighing options back and forth, with costs, function, taste, placement, style, etc. like a calculation. Then I "put it on the back-burner" in my unconscious, and let it "brew" there for a while, and develop itself to a conscious decision that are good compromise. But of course I weigh these thoughts back and forth, but its not like I think;
-Hey Pollux, what do "you" think about this car? Do you like the colour?
-Nah, I had a red one before. Wouldn't it be better with a blue one this time?
-I dont know!?! Do you think so?
-Yeah, I think you should go with the blue one this time.
-OK, done!!


It just don't progress that way for me. Maybe I'm the odd one out here. :D
Interesting. I have actual discussions with my "other" self in my head all the time, about practically everything. I just figured it was the natural reaction to being an only child.

I've said too much. Pay no attention to that user behind the curtain!
 
#15
I came across an answer to that somewhere. It has more to do with the long sweep of history over the centuries, than any immediate losses or gains in a particular conflict.
Would be interesting to here the reasoning for the deity to take the French side in a battle. Were the French overly meek in that period, so that God choose side, and thought to "stick it to" the English?
 
#16
Would be interesting to here the reasoning for the deity to take the French side in a battle. Were the French overly meek in that period, so that God choose side, and thought to "stick it to" the English?
I'd need to look it up to give accurately the explanation I found, rather than my own garbled (mis-)interpretation. But approximately it went like this. In the short term, the English gained most from the outcome, being released to develop independently. In turn that laid the ground for the way the future of all of Europe could develop, centuries later.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#17
The lost and restored 1928 version, Carl Theodor Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is one such account. Intriguingly, the credits state that an intact copy was found in a cupboard in a Norwegian mental institution.
That's one of my all-time favorite films, although not with that score. For another great art cinema adaptation, see Robert Bresson's 1962 Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (The Trial of Joan of Arc), based faithfully on the trial records. In this film, if I remember correctly, Jeanne gives detailed descriptions to her prosecutors of the "voices", who they are, and what they told her to do and how it would succeed.

 
#18
Interesting. I have actual discussions with my "other" self in my head all the time, about practically everything. I just figured it was the natural reaction to being an only child.

I've said too much. Pay no attention to that user behind the curtain!

That is precisely what I do. I don't really ever argue with myself, but debates do occur and I always win.:D

Sometimes I tell one of the me's to shut up if it's annoying me. Is that not normal? No? Oh....

I also occasionally will hear voices just before falling asleep, like snippets of conversation such as "so then we..." They can be male, female or child voices. Sometimes laughter. I've only heard my name once though, and I thought it was my mom, but she wasn't there. It sounds just like hearing it with your ears, only for me a bit louder, like someone speaking right in your ear.

It's never scared me. In fact, it can be kind of comforting because once I start hearing them I know I'll be asleep within minutes.

It only happens when I'm falling asleep. I know there's a term for this but I can't remember what it is. I also get sleep paralysis and have always had vivid, bizarre (spelled it right!) dreams. So, yeah...my brain is weird.
 
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