I’m not schizophrenic/whatever mental disease it is that may cause the following, at least I don’t think I am. Nah, I’m pretty sure I’m not. Anyway…
You know how when you are thinking to yourself in your head, you are aware of it - you are controlling what is being thought. You are thinking in your voice, to yourself, what you want to be thought. Like, it’s your voice. You have conscious control over it. You get what I’m trying to say I hope.
Well sometimes, not too often, the following occurs, especially when I’m tired. I won’t be thinking any words to myself, the self-controlled voice in my head will be silent. I’ll be trying to fall asleep, for example.
Then out of nowhere, boom! I “hear” in my head my name, or some other random word, but it wasn’t “me” that thought it. It just happened out of the blue, without me controlling it. It takes me by surprise. I know it was from in my head, that it, it’s not an external noise, but it wasn’t the “me” inside my head controlling it.
What part of the noggin might such a phenomenon originate in? And why might such a thing occur?
It is auditory mental imagery, and yes, if it happens when you are about to fall asleep it is hypnagogic auditory imagery, as 74westy says.
Hypnagogic imagery, as compared to the imagery, visual, auditory or whatever, that happens when we are fully awake, tends to be sort of random and unconnected to what you were thinking about previously, rather like a dream, but, unlike a dream, it does not cohere into a ‘story,’ but remains as unconnected random images. It also differs from a dream in that it happens when we are still at least partially still in touch with waking reality.
Some people get similar sorts of imagery when they are waking up also, but for some reason that has a different name: hypnopompic.
I used to get that regularly when I was falling asleep - and even in other accents. I was told (but am not sure I believe) that it can be a sign of sleep apnea. (At the time I didn’t pursue it and I don’t recall how the two are supposedly connected.) OK, so there is a lot of uncertainty in all that, so take it with more than a grain of salt.
Yeah it’s only happened to me a couple times. Once, in a very clear, loud voice I heard my dad say, “Drew.” It woke me up and it seemed so real, but my dad was 3000 miles away in Oregon so I know it wasn’t him.
The idea that there is just ‘one’ conscious circuit running in your brain is mistaken.
Sometimes more than one can ‘decide’ to construct words that your primary controlling consciousness can hear. Also, it is quite common to hear background noises and to interpret than as words. The most common of these occurrences is hearing your own name spoken by someone familiar to you. The phenomenon is somewhat similar to seeing figures in the clouds (or on burnt toast, apparently http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4034787.stm).
Only in the sense that hypnagogic reactions are more common when you go to sleep quickly, and sleep apnea makes you so tired that this happens. It’s also common in narcolepsy and after a bout of true insomnia.
The reaction that is directly connected to sleep apnea is jumping up in bed and finding it hard to breathe for a few seconds. While this can just be a hypnagogic jerk, it can also be your body waking you up when it tries to force breathing after it’s been obstructed. If this happens frequently, especially multiple times before you can fall asleep, it is recommended that you get a sleep study.
True. In our normal waking state some process in the brain creates the (mistaken) perception of a single, linear, consciousness stream. In sleep this process turns off and, in dreams, we can perceive different streams interacting. (Ever been surprised by something that happens or is said in a dream? How is that possible if there is only a single consciousness?)
Hearing voices while falling asleep would be the result of the consciousness-perception module “leaking” while turning off. Neurological flaws in the module can also allow result in leakage: e.g. schizophrenia and tourettes.
I don’t claim to have an explanation for the various experiences of hearing voices.
I know that over time I have heard them often enough and clearly enough to accept them as real and helpful.
Here’s my most vivid example.
One day I was about to get in my car an go to work. It was in the winter and snow was on the ground. As I approached the car a voice said: “Walk around and have a look at your car.” It was so startling that I said out loud: “What?” The voice repeated: “Walk around and have a look at your car.” So I did. When I got to the rear wheel on the driver’s side I noticed that the tire was coming off of the rim. I must have hit a pothole or something the previous day. The bead of the tire was on top of the metal of the wheel, but the tire was still inflated. I carried a small rubber mallet in the trunk and I thought I could just whack it and pop the bead back inside the wheel. But because it was winter, the rubber was frozen stiff and when I hit the tire, it just went flat. So I changed it and went on my way.
The thing is, I was about to get on the freeway and if I hadn’t done this, I would have potentially had a flat at highway speed in icy conditions.
I’ve had similar experiences several times. The voice always seemed to be offering helpful advice, so I’ve learned to listen to it. Once it told me that I couldn’t own a motorcycle because I would get hurt badly. Since then I have never again entertained the notion of having, or riding on a motorcycle.
I don’t put this in any religious context. I just accept it as part of normal experience.
I read something by Deepak Chopra once that stuck with me over the years. Essentially, he theorized that we are not self-contained entities, but we function more like radio receivers. There is part of us that is not inside of us but is broadcast from somewhere else and our bodies contain a mechanism tuned to receive it. This is very profound and I have meditated on this notion over the years. It would explain things like multiple personalities: that would be like a radio tuned between stations and picking up more than one at a time.
Well, I offer all this up for your collective consideration.