About Auditory Hallucinations
Disconnecting from reality can happen in many ways, one of them being auditory hallucinations, which are false perceptions of hearing sounds (voices, music, etc.) without any real sensory stimuli. Voices may say upsetting, critical, cruel & frightening things to, or about, the individual & this can be very distressing.
Voices can either be perceived as coming from inside my mind or from an external source. It can be one or more voices talking directly to me or amongst each other. Regardless of how they are manifested, the voices feel completely real & are quite convincing. The content uttered by these voices is usually negative. More specifically, they can take the form of insults or threats directed toward the person experiencing them or can give the person experiencing them demands to do terrible things such as kill someone. Voices are common to hear when no one else is around, & can easily increase in volume with high stress levels.
“Hearing, or receiving extra thoughts in your mind. It’s like you’re not initiating the thoughts—the thoughts are coming. It’s like you’re listening to your mind” (Sandy Jones MacGillivray).
Hearing voices can be experienced in a variety of ways. One way of hearing voices is being overcome by intensely negative thoughts. “Voices produce a stream of speech, often vulgar or derogatory or a running commentary on one’s most private thoughts. The compelling aura of reality about these experiences often produces distress & disrupts thought & behavior. The sound of the voice is sometimes that of a family member or someone from the past, or is like that of no known person but has distinct & immediately recognizable features (say, a deep, growling voice). One patient described the recurrence of voices as akin to being ‘in a constant state of mental rape.’ In the worst cases, voices command the listener to undertake destructive acts such as suicide or assault” (Ralph Hoffman, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University).
“Multiple voices can be conflicting or fighting with each other, causing overwhelming distress. Spiteful voices speak negative, cruel, nasty, vindictive messages; this often accompanies mental illness. Supportive voices are encouraging & harmless. Some people may hear random, meaningless voices; in other words, the voices heard aren’t necessarily controlling, negative, or supportive” (Mental Health Blog, www.mentalhealthdaily.com).
Realistic replay is when a voice repeats the same haunting phrase, or trauma memories are lived out repeatedly within the mind. This is most common in PTSD.
Command hallucinations involves hearing voices that order the person to do something, most commonly involving self-harm or harming others. Approximately 75% of people with schizophrenia experience auditory hallucinations; 20% to 50% of people with bipolar disorder experience them; 10% of those with major depression with psychotic features experience them; & 40% of those with post-traumatic stress disorder experience them. I’ve experienced this where the voices convince me that suicide is the absolute best decision I could make, & they suggest ways to do it. Controlling voices attempt to take over my sanity, ripping control from me, instilling disastrous orders that I passionately pursue because it’s an itch I must scratch to fully relax.
Causes of Auditory Hallucinations
There are many possible causes of auditory hallucinations, such as brain damage, bullying, death of a loved one, drugs, hypnogogic hallucinations, isolation, mental illness, physical illness, PTSD, physical abuse or sexual assault, sleep deprivation, spiritual experiences, starvation, & stress. Six of those are possible causes for my ongoing auditory hallucinations.
Bullying can lead to various mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Intense bullying can lead to the individual hearing voices because they have become so traumatized & possess an extremely low self-esteem.
Many individuals hear voices when they fall asleep or are just waking up from a dream; these are called hypnogogic hallucinations. This has to do with your brain activity either entering or coming out of a dream state. When you fall asleep, your brain waves change to the slower theta range & random dreams occur. Most people that hear voices following a dream or before sleep may hear sounds or voices call their name. Most people report very brief sounds while experiencing these hallucinations. Some people report visual hallucinations that accompany their auditory hallucinations as well.
Individuals with mental illness may experience voices that are threatening & very negative in nature. These voices may be difficult to deal with & can be extraordinarily terrifying. Common illnesses that result in people hearing voices, such as schizophrenia & bipolar disorder.
Various traumatic experiences may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some people actually hear voices or hallucinate as a result of this disorder.
Anyone that has been sexually or physically abused or assaulted may end up hearing voices. The younger the age of abuse, the more likely it is to hear voices as a result of what happened, possibility hearing the voice of the abuser. Coping with these types of auditory hallucinations can be especially difficult.
Some people report hearing voices as a result of significant stress. Anyone under major amounts of mental stress for a prolonged period could potentially experience an auditory hallucination. It’s a build up of major stress—far more intense than average stress one might experience.