I was reading the back and forth in TVAA’s mental illness discussion thread in GD and wondered what the whole “hearing voices in your head” thing is really all about. This is not meant to be a dis-respectful question. I know that mental illnesses or situations where you “hear voices” are among the most debilitating and frightening out there.
I ask the question out of genuine curiosity. I can hear myself “think” verbally if I have to slow and really think about something, like talking to yourself when trying to remember where you left the car keys, or working on a difficult analytical or behavioral problem (like dieting). Most of the time, however, the majority of the process of going about my daily life is largely automatic, with few complex interior monologues or ongoing complex verbal commentary except for some short interior mental commands, cues, reminders or comments on the next task to be done. One exception is when I am writing emails or memos and I verbalize the text mentally as I write, or if I am thinking about what I am going to say to someone where I have to be careful about what I am going to say.
A few questions for people that hear voices, or heard them, if you don’t hear them anymore.
1: Are the voices you hear mainly your voice or do they belong to someone else entirely? If they aren’t your voice are they a recognizable voice of someone else in your life, or they a stranger’s voice?
2: When you hear voices do you typically hear lots of voices or just one or two? Can you hold a discussion with the voices, or is it a monologue by the voices, or is it a speech or command to you? How do these voices typically manifest themselves, do they just burst forth or can you command them to come and go?
3: Sometimes when mentally ill people do terrible things, they say (assumedly sincerely) that the “voices” told them to do it. Why is is so difficult to say “no” to the voices?
4: Do people that hear the voices know on some level they aren’t real or the effect so powerful that there is no question the voices are “real”?
5: Is there any upside to these interior voices? Can you carry on a conversation with yourself (literally) or is it terrifying? Why are these voices always so debilitating to normal functioning. Why can’t someone hear compelling voices that tell them to do the right thing or be a better person?