We might say someone is ‘hearing voices’ if you hear a voice when no-one is present with you, or which other people with you cannot hear.
People have many different experiences of hearing voices. Some people don't mind their voices or simply find them irritating or distracting, while others find them frightening or intrusive.
It's common to think that if you hear voices you must have a mental health problem.
But research shows that lots of people hear voices and many of them are not mentally unwell. It’s a relatively common human experience.
I hear hundreds of voices. Partly relatives, friends and people in the media.
What kind of voices do people hear?
There are lots of different ways we all hear voices. For example, you might:
- hear your name called when there is no one with you
- hear or see things as you are falling asleep
- experience the voices as being in your head
- feel voices are coming from outside and heard through your ears like other sounds
- feel as if you are hearing other people’s thoughts or as if other people can hear your thoughts
- experience nasty or threatening voices that tell you to do dangerous and unacceptable things or try to control you
- hear a voice that feels friendly but encourages you to do things that might not be good for you
- hear a kind supportive voice or a voice that helps you
- hear more than one voice and they may talk or argue with each other.
I remember hearing this malicious whispering which I assumed was coming from other passengers on the train...it was like being able to hear people's thoughts and in my paranoid state these were always malevolent and critical.