Hearing Voices - Auditory Hallucination

Auditory hallucination is a condition in which the brain creates the illusion of voices in a person’s mind. They arise in different forms, such as a person standing beside you and calling you by your name or voices heard inside your head. Voices play a three-dimensional role in the human mind, and they can be either threatening or encouraging or sometimes be moderate.  

Image Credit: Pathdoc / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Pathdoc / Shutterstock

Hearing voices are common; everyone at a certain point of their life feels this condition in mild forms.

Nature of the Voice

These voices are the same as thoughts, but they tend to enter the mind from outside. They should not be confused with the ideas that pop up within one’s mind; they come to the mind without one’s conscious knowledge. This is as simple as a person humming a song or calling you by the name, which are difficult to stop.

Some other kinds are:

  • Feeling of hearing other people’s voice.
  • Feeling of other people reading your thoughts.
  • Hearing sounds when you are asleep.
  • Hearing multiple voices that argue with or talk to each other.

The voice can occur for a minute or can be present throughout the day. It blocks all activities that people perform in their daily life. Some may get used to these thoughts and find ways to live with them; these people are afraid of talking about how they feel and, as a result, prefer loneliness.

The feeling of voices heard differs with situation and time. The problem arises when a person fails to understand the relationship with those voices. Understanding the voices might help in determining severity. The impact of these voices changes day by day or every week, and a few examples are:

  • The voices might be of someone you like or someone you hate the most.
  • The voices might sound frightening and you feel crazy to stop them.
  • The voice you hear might be helpful and humorous.
  • Feeling that you are the only person in the universe to hear those voices.

Analysis of the relationship between you and the voices heard can help you to decide what steps can be taken further. In some cases, people find the voice to have a positive impact on them. The voices might be friendly and people tend to miss the voice when they are not heard. These types of voices encourage and boost people in their difficult situations.

Living with Hearing Voices

Such thoughts are not always friendly; they may provide an illusion of being friendly but command you to do things that are not in your comfort zone. Difficulties arise in these cases, because if a person feels that the voices are friendly, then it is hard to understand whether they are harmful or not.

Voices at a specific time

Here, people hear voices only at a particular or specific time. This might be once a day or on a particular day. Others might hear voices at certain places, for instance, while entering home or a place where they were involved in a traumatic incident. When people recognize the time or place the voices occur, they increase their own voice in order to avoid these voices.

Controlling voices

People who frequently hear voices feel that they have been controlled by them. They think that these might dominate them by instructing them to do certain things, which they feel dangerous or disgusting. It makes the situation complicated by controlling the way people converse with other people.

Upsetting voice

The voices can sometimes be unkind to people. They discourage or criticize people. These types of instructions from the voices upset people instantly.

Ruling of voices

In a more complex state, the voices give you the feel of you being a slave to them. They command you to hurt yourself or other people sitting next to you. People try to defend the voices by not carrying out those commands, but this result in frustration. When people lose their temper, they tend to shout at others or hurt others.  

Difficulty in communicating: For everyone, communicating about the voices they hear is the most difficult task. The reaction of people one shares their feelings with creates anxiety or frustration in their minds. Due to the fear and/or anxiety that the response of other people generates, they tend to hide their emotions and feelings. The response of other people includes:

  • Giving unnecessary meaning to your condition in a way that it makes you seriously ill.
  • The voices are just a myth; you are under an illusion state.
  • Speaking without understanding the condition, causing frustrations.

These conditions initiate a stigma in such people, which leads to self-isolation, thereby exacerbating any complications.

Reviewed by Afsaneh Khetrapal BSc (Hons)

Further Reading

Last Updated: Oct 24, 2017

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