By : Bettina Thraenhardt
Not only schizophrenics experience auditory hallucinations. Many people who are not mentally ill sometimes hear claps, whistles, buzzing, voices or even music in their heads.
Suddenly she heard someone call her name—“Laurie!”—but no one else was in the room. Feeling irritated, Laurie looked around the apartment. It was empty. Maybe someone was in the hallway? Or at the door? She found no one. Realizing that she was completely alone, Laurie felt chills run up her spine. Was she crazy?
Perhaps no other symptom is as instantly associated with insanity—some 70 percent of schizophrenics hear voices that regularly interrupt their thoughts, as do 15 percent of those who have mood disorders—but auditory hallucinations are not necessarily a sign of mental illness. They can arise as symptoms in any number
of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and temporal lobe epilepsy. In addition, episodes can occur in the absence of any physical or psychological problem.
Although such experiences are heavily stigmatized today, many famous thinkers, poets, artists and scholars of earlier times described hearing voices: a wise demon spoke to Socrates, the saints emboldened Joan of Arc, and an angel addressed Rainer Maria Rilke, inspiring his Duino Elegies. The list goes on: Carl Gustav
Jung, Andy Warhol, Galileo, Pythagoras, William Blake, Winston Churchill, Robert Schumann
and Gandhi, among others, have all reportedly heard voices.
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