Description: Besides being musicians, what do Brian Wilson, Peter Townsend, Carlos Santana and Jennifer Hudson have in common? Well, they have found inspiration in music and voices only they can hear.
Source: Globe and Mail: How hearing voices, long assumed a sign of mental illness, can be a part of the human experience.
Date: July 12, 2015
Photo Credit: David Clark/iStockphoto
Listen to an interview with researchers in this area: http://www.thelancet.com/cms/attachment/2028224164/2046615100/mmc2.mp3
So hearing voices means you are mentally ill right? Well it is true that hearing voices is a symptom related to a number of mental illness diagnostic categories including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance use. However, there is increasing evidence that hearing voices may be an experience many more propel have than just those with a diagnosis. The standard treatment advice used to be to assist people in ignoring the voices perhaps with the use of anti-psychotic medications. While this is still a core part of how such experiences are approached, especially when the voices are troubling, there are efforts to try and better understand how the human brain might generate such experiences and what else, besides medication, might be used to control them. Person, for example, reports that he has found the hearing his inner voices out quietens them and seems to act as a sort of barometer for how well he is coping with whatever is going on in his life.
Questions for Discussion:
- Is it possible for someone to hear voices and not be mentally ill?
- What would an understanding (at the brain level) of how some people hear voices tell us about human thought, consciousness and general cognitive functioning?
- What sorts of things do these studies suggest about our thinking about the symptoms of mental illness?
References (Read Further):
McGrath et al (2015) Psychotic experiences in the general population” A cross-national analysis based on 31,261 respondents from 18 countries. JAMA Psychiatry, 72(7), 697- 705.
Johns, Louise C. (2005) Hallucinations in the general population, Current Psychiatry Reports, 7(3), 162-167.
Durham University Hearing the Voice Project https://www.dur.ac.uk/hearingthevoice/
Woods, Angela, et al (2015) Experiences of hearing voices: Analysis of a novel phenomenological survey. Lancet Psychiatry, 2(4), published online. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00006-1
What does it mean to hear voices? Authors Angela Woods and Ben Alderson-Day discuss the results of their new study with Lancet Psychiatry Editor Niall Boyce. http://www.thelancet.com/cms/attachment/2028224164/2046615100/mmc2.mp3