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Is it normal to hear voices? Auditory hallucinations

Is it normal to hear voices? Auditory hallucinations

November 27, 2021

The human being is a social being that communicates with his environment and with his peers, using oral language to a great extent. We speak to communicate and express more or less abstract ideas and concepts, and we listen and listen to those of others.

However, some people manifest hear voices that do not correspond to a real stimulus . In this context ... What is happening with these people? Is it normal to hear voices? In this article we are going to specify some cases in which the auditory perception of a voice appears.

Hearing voices: auditory hallucinations

The perception of elements in the absence of stimuli that provoke them is what we know as hallucination . In them, who suffers them perceives as true a stimulus that does not exist in reality, this being its own elaboration. Hallucinations can appear in any sensory modality, including hearing.


The fact of hearing voices, if they do not come from a real stimulus, is therefore a hallucinatory phenomenon. In fact it is the most common type of hallucination , especially in certain mental disorders. The voices in question can externally reflect the contents of one's own thought, give orders, make criticisms of who suffers them in the second person or make comments in the third person. It is even possible to perceive more than one and that these establish conversations with each other, although it is not usual.

We must bear in mind that the perception of voices can be experienced in different ways. For some people it can be a rewarding, positive and even mystical experience, especially when its content is not aversive. On the contrary, it generates great suffering for other people, being critical, ridiculing and threatening voices that can even lead him to do concrete acts.


  • Related article: "The 15 types of hallucinations (and their possible causes)"

Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders

The first thing that most people think of when someone says they hear voices is in the word schizophrenia, or that they are suffering from a psychotic outbreak. The link between schizophrenia and hearing voices it is because the presence of hallucinations (especially auditory) is one of the predominant symptoms, especially of the paranoid subtype.

In schizophrenia, voices can be manipulative and terrifying and order things that the subject does not want to do. It is frequent that in this disorder the content of the voices is threatening or critical and that they speak of the subject or of the environment, as well as provoke the interpretation of reality differently to the habitual generating delusions (for example, a person who constantly hears that they persecute him or wants to see him dead can end up interpreting situations according to that idea).


But not only voices are heard in schizophrenia. In fact, auditory hallucinations they are one of the main positive symptoms (those that add elements to the normal functioning of the patient) of both schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in which there is a partial or complete break with reality.

  • Maybe you're interested: "The 8 types of Psychotic Disorders"

Other disorders in which it is possible to hear voices

Psychotic disorders are not the only ones in which the hearing of voices generated by one's own mind can appear. In some types of depression As the atypical, in manic episodes, anxiety crises or during epileptic seizures can be heard voices. Also during dissociative states.

Also, some diseases and medical alterations can cause this perception. For example, in the presence of high fever it is possible that hallucinations and delusions appear, as well as a great amount of alterations that occur with alterations of conscience.

Different symptoms such as withdrawal syndrome to certain substances, or neurological disorders such as dementias are prone to generate the perception of hearing voices.

We are not always facing a disorder

As we have seen, when it is mentioned that a person hears voices, this fact is usually linked to the existence of a schizophrenia or a psychotic disorder. This is because the presence of auditory hallucinations, especially in the form of voices, is one of the most characteristic symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.

However, not in all cases we are facing this disorder: it is possible to hear voices for many reasons and not all of them are pathological .

1. Consumption of substances

The consumption of certain substances, especially the psychodysleptic type (like the hallucinogens) or psychoanalytic, can also cause the perception of voices or sounds by causing alterations in perception and / or level of consciousness. In addition, some substances can cause a psychotic outbreak per se, which can also cause hearing voices.

And not only during their consumption, they can also occur in poisonings by these substances or even before the sudden cessation of consumption in the cases that suffer from dependence, that is to say before the withdrawal syndrome.

2. Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations

An example of this is found in hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations, also called physiological hallucinations: it is a form of pseudoperception in the form of hallucinations that arise in the wake of sleep and vice versa , that is, in a state in which an alteration of consciousness is taking place.

Although they are often visual, it is not uncommon for sound elements to appear as well. being able to hear voices, conversations or shouts . They do not necessarily indicate the presence of a pathology, but it is not uncommon for them to appear in the non-clinical population.

3. Reaction to an intense stress or a traumatic event

Losing a loved one, having suffered some kind of abuse or being subjected to considerable stress can cause those who have suffered experience hear voices at specific times. For example, it is not uncommon when we lose a loved one that we seem to hear the voice of the deceased, usually in the early stages of the grieving process.

Hearing voices can also be a consequence of a state of extreme excitement and nervousness , appearing this phenomenon as nervous paroxysm. In fact, the perception of these voices can further increase the tension state of the subject and accentuate the perceptions.

4. Pareidolia

Pareidolia is understood as the phenomenon by which the human brain tends to cause us to perceive patterns in ambiguous stimuli, as occurs when we see shapes in the clouds.

Although the pareidolia itself designates the endowment of meaning and meaning to images that do not have it, similar phenomena can also occur in other senses. For example in the hearing. It is possible that certain environmental elements, such as the wind, produce noise that we can come to interpret as a human voice , even in the form of phrases.

What are they really?

The origin of the perception of voices without anything that triggers this perception may depend on the type of phenomenon that originates them. It is usually an interpretation of an external noise or of the perception as exogenous of a self-generated content (that is, something that the person has thought is perceived as external).

In the second case, there are multiple hypotheses about why this happens like this. It has been perceived that the existence of an excess of dopamine in the mesolimbic pathway can generate hallucinations and delusions, as well as the possibility of lesions in the prefrontal. It has also been observed that many patients with asymmetries in the temporal lobe develop positive symptoms such as hallucinations. Another explanation may be the disconnection between the brain regions of speech and the prefrontal , which can cause a dissociation between self-awareness and the generation of verbal content.

How are they treated?

The fact of hearing voices requires treatment if these are due to the existence of a mental illness and / or they represent a prejudice, malaise or significant limitation for those who perceive them or their environment.

If the voices are perceived during a grieving process or after a traumatic experience, it may be necessary to work on the phenomenon that generated it and its significance for the patient. The type of strategy to be used will depend on the case.

In cases of psychotic disorders, Neuroleptics or antipsychotics are often used in order to reduce hallucinations. In this aspect, both typical and atypical ones are very successful, although the former can cause relevant side effects and in both cases they can generate sedation. In other disorders, the corresponding cause should be treated.

On a psychological level and specifically on auditory hallucinations, targeting therapy has been used . In this therapy elaborated by Slade, Haddock and Bentall it is tried that the patient goes focusing little by little on different aspects of the voices. It begins with the form and characteristics of the voice in question, to later analyze the content (that is to say what they say) and finally work on the beliefs that the subject has regarding them. It is about getting the subject little by little to re-attribute the voices to their own mental contents.

In any case, when dealing with a person who claims to hear voices, it is necessary to make him see a fundamental aspect: regardless of what they say, the voices can not hurt you .


True Facts About Auditory Hallucinations - Causes and Treatments of Auditory Hallucination (November 2021).


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