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wabarr's avatar

Do you hear voices in your head?

Asked by wabarr (458 points ) May 14th, 2008

The stream of thoughts that goes on in my head is definitely verbal. How is this different from the “hearing voices” phenomenon that is a sign of mental illness? Is the difference that the bad kind of voices are other people’s voices?

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15 Answers

iwamoto's avatar

the difference is that i control the voice i guess, right know i can hear myself say the text i’m writing down in my head, however, it’s just my voice

marinelife's avatar

The stream you are talking about are your own thoughts. Unless you find it interferes with your concentration or daily routine, it is not terribly serious. Unfortunately, a lot of times for a lot of people, what you have going on is a lot of negative self talk. In that case, it may well interfere with making the life choices you would want to make.

You might consider seeing a therapist. There are also techniques for dealing with it and changing the negative to positive, but it is difficult to do on one’s own.

Here’s a very general article with background: http://stress.about.com/od/optimismspirituality/a/positiveselftak.htm

Google self talk and you will gets lots of other resources including books.

ninetails's avatar

although I am in no way an expert on this subject, my opinion is that everyone hears voices in their heads. We tend to recycle conversations that we have had in the past, analyzing the conversations as to what we said, or should have said, what the response was from whom ever we wewere talking to

wildflower's avatar

I think it’s perfectly normal to ‘hear voices’ in your head. I know I have several; the encouraging coach, the devil’s advocate, the logical Vulcan and the touchy-feely empath, to name but a few…

It only becomes a problem when you start blaming the voices for bad decisions.

ninetails's avatar

or what their response might have been if we said something different. Also when we think about what someone said to us, we tend to replay what they said in our minds in their voice. I think all of these things are normal, but if you are hearing voices and react to them in any negative way you might need some professional help

soundedfury's avatar

Hearing voices, called auditory hallucination, is very different. Generally people who hear voices believe them to be external voices – something outside their self and usually outside their head. They are distinct and individual, created as part of a psychosis. This is very different than simply internally verbalizing thought.

Nikipedia can probably elaborate and clarify.

DeezerQueue's avatar

Going out on a limb here and hoping that I’m not revealing so much personal information that people will think that I’m more of a nutcase than I really am, I can tell you that I am taking medication, one of the side effects being auditory hallucinations.

It’s a bit disturbing, I say a bit because I am at least conscious and knowledgeable that they have a basis in the medication.

They are not my own voice and it feels as though I am listening in on someone else’s conversation. They are irrelevant to the thoughts I will be having at those moments, the normal brain chatter that I have, but will interrupt that chatter until my own chatter has stopped for those brief moments.

Trance24's avatar

Any voices we hear in our head are often our own. And are usually our own thoughts, or voices from memories we are going over in our heads. Its when they are voices you have never herd before, and are talking to you when you are not even thinking. Those are the voices to watch out for.

robmandu's avatar

Like many here, I have no expertise in this area.

To my way of thinking though, unless you’re putting names to those voices (that is, they each represent separate, recognizable personalities), then you’re probably a-okay.

nikipedia's avatar

If you’re talking about your inner monologue, we all verbalize that to some degree. Some thoughts you have are fuzzy and too abstract to verbalize and some are more concrete. When you feel happy, you can probably think about that feeling of happiness without thinking the words, “I feel happy!” At the other extreme, if you’re rehearsing something you want to say to someone, that will probably be a very concretely verbal process and you will mentally “hear” that conversation taking place.

For example, I can think and mentally “hear” the words “johnpowell, I have a crush on you.” This is different from literally hearing a voice saying “johnpowell, I have a crush on you” as if someone outside my body was saying that.

When people have auditory hallucinations, they can literally hear voices talking to them, the same way you hear an actual person actually talking to you. People who have psychotic disorders like schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder tend to believe these voices are real even though other people can’t hear them. People with other disorders (e.g., psychotic depression) often know the voices aren’t real.

Hope that’s what you’re looking for and was not a long tangent on my part.

muddyh2o's avatar

yes. my life sounds like ‘the wonder years’

i head another voice describing my life through some distorted future perspective.

it happens far too often. actually, it’s describing what i’m doing now as a waste of time when i should have been talking to my wife

scamp's avatar

@muddyh2o I think you are describing you conscience! ha ha! I think we all have a little ‘inner voice”, and that’s quite normal from time to time. If it becomes constant and we can’t tune it out that may be a cause for concern. Watch the movie Sybil with Sally Fields. She portrays the part of someone suffering with the voices that come from mental illness.

tyrantxseries's avatar

yes it’s your inner voice, I have perinoid schizophrenia, not going into too much detail, I have 3 voices and my inner voice, the three voices when they speak sound like their outside of your head standing beside/behind you speaking, but when your inner voice(also voices you make for people you know..same thing) speaks it’s inside your head..if that makes sence.
hope this helps

toyhyena's avatar

One time around an hour or something before I usually wake up (to give you an idea of what stage of the sleep cycle I might’ve been at), I heard a very distinct, crisp, voice that I didn’t recognize to belong to anyone I knew (you know how you kind of have a range of voices you’ve ever heard throughout your life, and everyone’s is unique? it felt out of it, it was not familiar at all) I’d describe it as like, maybe a 40-something year old Ian McKellen, but not as raspy.

It was one word, but it wasn’t muffled (so it wasn’t coming from outside and through the walls, and my boyfriend, who was asleep like a rock next to me, didn’t sound like that), it was very crisp, it wasn’t said dramatically but rather flatly, and the background noise was total silence, so it really stood out. The one word was “Beware”, and it scared the freaking sense out of me.

Hell yes I woke up alarmed, and there was a loud noise in the house, like something heavy (like a washing machine) had been dropped, and I flipped ooooout, deer in the headlights sitting in bed, putting two and two together.

Obviously nothing happened (and when I woke up my boyfriend to go investigate, we never found out what the noise was from), but when I tried to look up “auditory hallucination” online, I didn’t find anything useful. I just now pity Schizophrenics, if that’s really what it’s like to hear voices; it’s totally not under your control, and you for real just f*#$ing heard a voice talk to you. I still wish I knew what to make of it, ‘cause it still bothers me to this day.

Have someone casually say “Beware” next to your ear. That was no stream of thought there, ‘cause I was in meditation-clean slate- not-dreaming mode at the time.

dashortkid's avatar

most of you people don’t get it. it’s like there are people talking beside you, but there’s no one there. they follow you everywhere. but remain invisible. even when you try to sleep. you can never be alone..
i don’t know what “quiet” or “silence” is. some of us hear only one while others have multiples. talk to us or talk amongst themselves. and some of them make threats. i have 5. and no, they don’t all talk at once. but think of having a headset on all the time of people talking. you have no control of what they say or how loud they are. THAT’s what it’s like to hear voices as a schizophrenic. that’s the all that schizo is but it does play a major part.

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