General Question

Aster's avatar

Can a non-schizophrenic hear voices?

Asked by Aster (19949points) August 28th, 2015

Someone on Facebook claims she hears lots of voices but she’s not schizophrenic. I wonder about that. Can a healthy person hear voices speaking to them and still be considered a healthy, mainstream person?

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32 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I don’t think so, unless she has some auditory issues like Tinnitus that mimics voices.
Of course, crazy people never think they are crazy, so taking her assessment of her mental health condition is not really credible. haha

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma Reminds me of one of my most favorites novels Catch 22 where people who were crazy were not obliged to fly missions; but anyone who applied to stop flying missions was showing a rational concern for their safety, and was sane.

“Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.”

anniereborn's avatar

Don’t prophets and the like hear voices?

Strauss's avatar

Some psychics or mediums as well, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Coloma's avatar

@Cruiser Haha and Welcome back! You’ve been missed. :-)

@anniereborn Yes, but, odds are they were/are all delusional/mentally ill.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Aster , Do the voices give orders?

Do the voices that schizophrenics hear necessarily give orders or can they just be engaging in conversation? I confess to being unknowledgeable about schizophrenia. I do know that some schizophrenics learn to live with the symptoms. The film A Beautiful Mind showed the mathematician John Nash coming to terms with his schizophrenia. He ended up rejecting medication because he felt that it interfered with his creativity.

anniereborn's avatar

@LostInParadise The voices that schizophrenics hear can say/act any number of ways.
Also psychotic symptoms such as auditory hallucinations can be found in other mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder type 1.

anniereborn's avatar

@Coloma You are saying that the men of the cloth that hear “God” speak to them are all mentally ill?

ragingloli's avatar

Either that, or they made it up.

Coloma's avatar

@anniereborn I’m saying that prophets that claim some divine vision or actually hearing the voice of “God” are, yes, most likely delusional.
Experiencing some, personal spiritual insight is not on the same continuum as claiming some vision and the voice of God came floating down through the trees while you were walking home and told you that you are some divine and chosen one. Science has shown that a lot of these people were, most likely, suffering from some form of mental illness or, as in the case of the Salem Witch trials, suffering from ergot poisoning, a fungus found on wheat and rye which were staples of certain eras and caused hallucinations.

Since I do not believe in “God” but do believe in science and logical, rational thought, I would say yes. The mind is a complex thing and cases such as these are highly suspect.

DoNotKnow's avatar

@LostInParadise – I worked with people suffering from schizophrenia for years. For many of them, the “voices” they describe don’t sound much different than our inner “voice” – except that they don’t attribute the voices as “I” or “me”. They seem foreign. For others, the voices are as clear and audible as though you were listening to spoken word on headphones. One man I worked closely with had been suffering for years with Robert Redford’s voice (and the FBI) in his head. The FBI and Robert Redford had worked together to implant “metal receivers” in his head so that they could communicate with him. From what he told me, the voices weren’t commands – but they could be abusive. I also worked with a guy who poisoned his children (the kids lived). In this case, he claims that the voices did command him to poison his kids.

stanleybmanly's avatar

That’s an interesting question. For example, if the voices are merely cracking jokes, and you as the listener spend the majority of your time doubled up from laughter, you’d probably be diagnosed and declared “crazy as a bedbug”. And who can know what’s going on in someone’s head? I suspect that there are an AWFUL LOT of people that hear voices other than their own. I know I can leave this house & drive for 15 minutes and easily find someone talking to a parking meter or stop sign.

Aster's avatar

@LostInParadise I don’t remember what she said they were telling her but I can try to find it. I think one thing was, “you’re bothering us.”

Coloma's avatar

@Aster ” us”///oh oh, maybe she has MPD. multiple personality disorder. Is her name Sybil? lol

chyna's avatar

^. I think her name is Eve

Coloma's avatar

@chyna LOL, maybe more than 3 faces. haha

stanleybmanly's avatar

I remember my 4 year old telling me that her imaginary friend was responsible for prompting raids on the cookie jar!

rojo's avatar

Interesting question! Where do we draw the line for normal?

talljasperman's avatar

Children often sense monsters under the bed. It wouldn’t be a stretch that they hear monsters too. When I was a kid I saw the electro – static man in my door. I threw my stuffed animals and extra pillows at it. (Never enough pillows). I can’t sleep now unless I have more than four pillows. I learned to not sleep at night and to sleep in school. (Or to skip it completely and sleep during the day. ) At night I listened to the radio, or played Netendo or television with as many lights on that I could get away with lest the monster get me.

ShanEnri's avatar

I have several voices in my head that I argue with. I’ve always attributed it to imagination!

jca's avatar

This would be a good question to ask a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Bill1939's avatar

I have a vivid imagination. I frequently have thought conversations in which I “speak” with others, some of whom are people I know or have known, occasionally with family members who are deceased, and sometimes with imagined characters. These dialogues help me think through ideas that occur to me. Topics range from physics to psychology, economics to spirituality. I think that the difference between “voices” that those with a mental illness have and mine is they believe that the source of what “hear” is an identity or identities separate from theirs.

Aster's avatar

Here’s what the lady said in the post: ” I am not schizophrenic. I am a nurse with a master’s degree. It started several years ago subtly….then they were calling my name! I could hear bits and pieces of different conversations. Sometimes “the bad ones” would come in and I would say “In the name of Jesus Christ leave me alone!” It was spiritual warfare! I learned now how to control them(bad ones) by yelling! I heard them say “You embarrassed us.”
If this ever happened to me I’d check myself into a mental ward.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Aster A master degree doesn’t secure people from mental problem. An sounds like she needs some help with her mental state.

jca's avatar

@Aster: From her description, I declare her JPN: Just Plain Nuts.

JLeslie's avatar

At first I was going to say I think it’s possible no to be schizophrenic and hear a random voice here and there. Just like we can hear scratch, static, ringing, a memory noise like a phone ringing, and it’s only occurring in our brain, and maybe most often after being around loud noise for an extended period. However, after seeing the description @Aster wrote just above that nurse sounds schizophrenic to me. I’m not a mental health professional, but the time I have spent studying and being with schizophrenics that is what I would I would guess is her diagnosis.

rojo's avatar

Does it impair her ability to function?

According to the Mayo Clinic these are the symptoms of Schizophrenia:

Delusions. These are false beliefs that are not based in reality. For example, you’re being harmed or harassed; certain gestures or comments are directed at you; you have exceptional ability or fame; another person is in love with you; a major catastrophe is about to occur; or your body is not functioning properly. Delusions occur in as many as 4 out of 5 people with schizophrenia.
Hallucinations. These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don’t exist. Yet for the person with schizophrenia, they have the full force and impact of a normal experience. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses, but hearing voices is the most common hallucination.
Disorganized thinking (speech). Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarely, speech may include putting together meaningless words that can’t be understood, sometimes known as word salad.
Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. This may show in a number of ways, ranging from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behavior is not focused on a goal, which makes it hard to perform tasks. Abnormal motor behavior can include resistance to instructions, inappropriate and bizarre posture, a complete lack of response, or useless and excessive movement.
Negative symptoms. This refers to reduced ability or lack of ability to function normally. For example, the person appears to lack emotion, such as not making eye contact, not changing facial expressions, speaking without inflection or monotone, or not adding hand or head movements that normally provide the emotional emphasis in speech. Also, the person may have a reduced ability to plan or carry out activities, such as decreased talking and neglect of personal hygiene, or have a loss of interest in everyday activities, social withdrawal or a lack of ability to experience pleasure.

Since she is hearing things that others don’t seem to hear we assume she is either delusional or experiencing hallucinations or both. Does she appear to have any of the other possible symptoms?

rojo's avatar

I think at one time or another I have probable exhibited each of the symptoms above in some form or another yet I feel I am grounded in reality.

Perhaps it is as I have heard; we are all dysfunctional.

LostInParadise's avatar

I believe that what separates schizophrenia from other disorders where a person has auditory hallucinations is the item that talks about disorganized thinking in speech and thought. In the most extreme cases this means that the person is unable to effectively communicate. As you can imagine, this is highly debilitating. See, for example, this talk by Robert Sapolksy. Skip the first 23 minutes, which are not relevant to the discussion on schizophrenia. Schizophrenics have a high suicide rate. According to this site (skip down to around the middle), 10% of schizophrenics die within 10 years of the onset of the disease, mostly due to suicide.

I started looking up material on schizophrenia because at around the same time that this question was posted, someone I know was trying to make the case that schizophrenia is not really a disease.

keobooks's avatar

First of all, schizophrenia is not the only mental disorder that can have auditory hallucinations. Some people with severe bipolar disorder or depression can have psychotic breaks and suffer from hallucinations or delusions. Just because someone is hallucinating doesn’t mean that hey have schizophrenia.

Sometimes, prescribed medication can cause hallucinations. Migraine meds do this occasionally. Ironically, sometimes the wrong antipsychotic medication can do this as well.

Sometimes people hear the sound of a crowd or indistinguishable shouting right before they have a migraine as well. There was a nun in the Middle Ages that suffered from migraines who heard singing right before her migraines. She wrote the songs down and believed they came from God.

I also vaguely remember people having small micro strokes and hearing voices as well. That was in an Oliver Sacks book, I believe.

StillWorksForChocolate's avatar

I always joke about arguing with my voices… I hope no one ever takes me seriously.

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