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Hearing Voices: The Experience of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. One of the most common and distressing symptoms of schizophrenia is hearing voices that are not real. These voices can be friendly, hostile, or neutral, and they can have different personalities, accents, or tones. They can also comment on the person’s actions, thoughts, or feelings, or give commands, instructions, or threats.

What is it like to hear voices?

The experience of hearing voices can vary widely from person to person, depending on the content, frequency, intensity, and context of the voices. Some people may hear voices only occasionally, while others may hear them constantly. Some people may hear voices that are clear and distinct, while others may hear them as whispers, noises, or echoes. Some people may hear voices that are external, as if they are coming from outside their head, while others may hear them as internal, as if they are coming from inside their mind.
The voices that people with schizophrenia hear can have different effects on their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Some people may feel scared, angry, or depressed by the voices, while others may feel comforted, amused, or inspired by them. Some people may believe that the voices are real and have special meaning or power, while others may recognize that the voices are not real and try to ignore or resist them. Some people may follow the commands or suggestions of the voices, while others may challenge or argue with them.
The following are some examples of how people with schizophrenia describe their experience of hearing voices:
– “When those suffering from schizophrenia hear voices or even have conversations with them their reality testing is impaired and to some degree they are cognitively disorganized. You can imagine this as like being in a dream like state, specifically a nightmare from which they cannot awake and are only intermittently aware they are in but are powerless to change or fully regain their faculties. A nightmare indeed. If you can imagine that, nightmare like, all coming from within but seemingly from without. As it worsens what once was whispers and fleeting suspicions become fully fleshed by one’s own mind and can descend into chaos. The expression of which we call ‘word salad’. I have been with sufferers speaking word salad who suddenly turn to me with clarity in their eyes and say ‘please help me’. Lucid for only ten seconds. It’s like that.”
– “I’m sure it’s different with each individual, but for me, as a teenager when they started, it was usually white noise, like a scratched record. Then it was like an audience from a TV show. A few years later it was plain and clear, like someone sitting next to me talking, or laughing, or screaming. It sucked growing up and getting older and getting no help for this. The voices I hear are intelligent and usually mean but I have had real conversation with them. I was actually witnessed by my wife and her friend to be carrying on 6 different conversations one evening. Not the norm but true nonetheless. After my wife died I heard her voice and seen her several times. I also had a small boy and girl I became friends with follow me around for several years and would get lonely for their company so much that I would ask them to come see me. Hallucinations yes but very real to me.”
– “Schizophrenic here, although a Recovering one. Let me tell you my version of answer and perspective, considering I almost went to jail because of a Psychotic episode. There was one time where I had 2 hours of conversation with the voices, and Yes, we hear the voices… and we talk to them back as well. However, I think it differs from person to person depending on the severity of their condition. I must admit though, that these voices are incredibly intelligent – because it got me away from robbing a coffee house at night whilst wearing only a hoodie and face mask to cover up my appearance (no worries, I didn’t steal anything expensive; just some cat food). I was almost caught by some people, who screamed towards my direction but my Schizophrenic Senses told me ‘what to do’, ‘where to go’, and ‘how to do it’. These voices are really chronic and disturbing, as I may have hurt many people and my loved ones because of it… which I truly seek forgiveness from! Imagine seeing a hot chick from Instagram and never hearing the voice. The Schizophrenic Brain will create a voice for that hot chick, and may be able to seduce you while you sleep (with the voices
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