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  • Aural hallucinations

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    Old 03-15-2009, 11:38 AM   #1
    nightpassage's Avatar
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    nightpassage HB User
    Aural hallucinations

    I read a post in which a person was suffering relatively harmless aural ‘hallucinations’ and although that thread is closed now, I thought I might give some insight as to what I think the sources of aural hallucinations are and offer some possible solutions that don’t require anti-psychotic drugs such as Risperdal which would be prescribed by psychiatrists because from my own experience I can attest that these can cause great discomfort: They work by dampening the imagination and limiting the brains’ ability to work on more than one level which is not actually a positive thing, and they also cause restlessness.
    Before I begin though I would first like to say that If you are suffering severe mental and emotional trauma from aural hallucinations and feelings of persecution and paranoia it is best to seek professional help: I am merely a sufferer who has had to learn to live with this condition for some years alone, and all I am offering in this essay is whatever small comfort and help I can: this is how I am dealing with my problem as I cannot get any real help.

    I also suffer from a similar condition but my experience of aural hallucinations is constant, far more extreme and most of the time quite sinister: I hear voices very clearly coming from outside my head quite literally all the time and they are always complaining. Male voices are usually brash, intimidating and insulting to me and the female voices are dissatisfied and patronizing. The things they say are usually one or two words like “stupid”, “terrible”, “Oh, come on!”, “He’s so embarrassing” and so on and so forth. The voices antagonize me so to illicit a response either in my thinking or action: I find I am in constant discourse with them, and when I am stressed by money, sexual frustration, loneliness, depression or any anxiety, the voices become more forceful and I am antagonized to the point that I react much faster to them and in a bigger way, either by doing something to appease them or attempting to defeat their childish complaining with logic and insulting them back. As you can imagine, at times my mind is a battlefield in which I am always outnumbered. If I have an immature, cowardly or embarrassing thought ‘by accident’ it is immediately set upon by the voices which mock and ridicule me and so I am also battling to preserve my self-esteem most of the time too, and this has led me to drink and take drugs heavily on many an occasion, a lot of the time with serious detriment to myself and my family. Not only this but anyone can tell you that the abuse of drugs and alcohol exacerbate mental problems probably more than anythings else you could do.

    To make matters worse, at some point over the course of the 7 or so years that I have been dealing with this problem I came to believe that the voices come from the minds of actual people – neighbors, people on the street, people sitting next to me on the bus, even just people I know who might be miles away – who can hear my every thought. This makes the validity of the voices’ opinions even more powerful and I have to work harder than the regular person to feel normal and uninhibited: I feel that everyone I meet knows every bad thing about me. This is easy to hide though and nobody I know is aware that I think like this.

    The source of these voices of persecution I believe comes from our insecurities, our ability to mentally multitask and our ‘inner narrative’. I remember one day when I was about 17 I was walking home and grew aware that I could hear my own voice inside my head. I could form words that were almost audible. This amused me and so I continued to do this until it became the way I always thought; I would actually think the words “I think I’ll put the kettle on”, or if I was pondering something that was bothering me, I’d ‘speak about it’ to myself in my head in a monologue. This was okay because I was aware that it was my own voice, but soon I wasn’t even aware that I was hearing myself.

    Unfortunately our brains’ powerful ability to physically and mentally multitask without being conscious of it can be the source of many powerful illusions. You can be mowing the lawn while consciously thinking about depositing money in your bank account while also feeling frustrated about being single for seven months. This, I suppose is not a bad thing: It’s okay to be many places in your head at the same time, but it can manifest into something like my condition where I am thinking with my own inner narrative voice but have also somehow managed to assign 'narrative voices' to my insecurities and frustrations which act of their own accord – my brain has started talking all by itself, and boy it’s mean. On top of this, the narrative voice of my insecurities latches onto the muffled and incomprehensible voices of people walking on the streets, giving the illusion that I am in a discourse with them and not myself. In fact now, out of habit I have started actively listening for a response or prompt from the voices. Basically I feel I am surrounded by a cruel society and always isolated.

    What a mess! So what can I do? Well in my case, the source of the voices is my use and the validation of my own and my ego’s inner-narrative. The ‘ego’ as it is called by some philosophical theories is that part of your mind that wants success, love, money – instant gratification – at any cost. If you notice, voices of persecution always want you to do something. In reality though, most people don’t want anything from you and if they do, they usually try to coax you or persuade you kindly to do it. The ego however, is a small and unintelligent part of you that cannot come up with any real solutions to fulfill its desires. So without any real intelligence of its own it instead attempts to frustrate you with ideas of doubt and fear so that you will act to achieve the result it desires. In my case, which is quite extreme, the cunning [email protected]$tard has found a way of manifesting in such a realistic and vocal manner that I actually have to argue with it as if it is a real thing, and in the process, unintentionally giving it what it really wants more than anything: validation of existence.

    My solution to my problem is simple, but not as easy as it sounds. Here are the steps that I have taken to loosen the ego’s grip on my mind and to destroy the voices or more importantly the belief that they come from a source outside of my head. The positive effects will be gradual and not instant; you are in effect changing the way you think – you are undoing long-standing negative mental habits, and this is an organic process which requires practice and discipline.

    1. Do not think 'verbally' to yourself. The use of an inner narrative can be good for writing or poetry; ‘seeing how things sound’ in your head for instance, but that's about it. ‘Pure thought’ is far quicker and does not require words to carry meaning; one does not need to literally think ‘I think I’ll put the kettle on’, one just gets a flash of inspiration for a cup of tea and gets up and does it. This means that most of the time you will have to be aware of your own silence, and rigorously enforcing it: when you are making that cup of tea, watch yourself turn the kettle on, getting the cup out, putting in the sugar. Think only of what you are doing, don’t be thinking of something else or daydreaming. That is because these moments, when you are not aware of your thoughts that are opportunities that the voices seize to get into a dialogue with you and before you know it you’re answering back in your head “Oh that’s not true at all, Jenny wouldn’t do a thing like that” etc. etc. and before long you will be in an annoyed and anxious state. In effect you want to be in a constant state of meditation and reacting to only your own minds’ requirements instantly and peacefully: completely self-aware.

    2. Do not respond in any way to the voices. Not in your head, not with an expression on your face, not a gesture, nothing. Respond with absolute silence, inwardly and outwardly. Act as if you do not hear them at all and they will lose all power. As I have said, hearing the voices may be unavoidable. This is because in some cases - such as mine - they have established themselves so firmly in one’s belief system that they can speak up by themselves because our habitual reaction up until now has been that of validating them by interacting with them. In my case it is quite difficult to ignore them because they can be incredibly crude, patronizing, insulting and intimidating but if you think about it, not reacting at all is a far easier and quicker solution than trying to prove to them why their ideas are inferior.

    3. Listen with your ears. This may sound stupid and also like a contradiction to everything I’ve said thus far but it’s not - it’s a very powerful tool. Unless you are (non-verbally) thinking about something, then really listen to the cars on the road, the children playing football down the street, the wind and especially the real voices of people speaking even if you can’t make out what they’re saying: if you hear voices and you can’t assign a meaning to the muffled words, then neither can your ego. Anyone with my condition can tell you that when the sounds of the world outside are replaced by the incessant whining and complaining of your ego’s voice, you feel trapped inside your own head. The sounds of the world are a comfort – my personal favorites are the wind and the sea. Everybody loves the sound of the sea. Sounds of the world drown out the clutter, focus the mind and you will instantly feel calmer and really believe you are alone – I mean ‘alone’ in a positive sense of course; having a displaced inner dialogue creates paranoid feelings of being watched all the time and of people knowing your innermost thoughts which make you feel uncomfortable, defensive and insecure.

    4. Practice non-thought: in other words meditate. This is hard to do at first for any person but it is also a crucial tool. Do it in a quiet room, the darker the better and the further away from people is the best. The rules to follow are simple and can be broken up into a few categories of things to refuse:
    • The first are the visual elements. Close your eyes and repress any visual imagery. Visual thoughts can be broken up into two types. The first is mental, in which you imagine things or remember things like a movie and these usually contain cohesive thoughts and a storyline. The second is light-based imagination in which you can ‘manipulate’ the green, yellow and purple neon shapes that are visible above the black you see when you close your eyes. Watching these will lead you to mental imagery. The act of shutting off your ‘inner eye’ (let’s not get too new-age shall we though) is the goal and difficult to achieve.

    • The second is of course, aural thoughts. Your own inner narrative likes to babble a bit too and you have to instantly stop thinking the minute you become aware you are doing it. Then we have the voice of the ego. This voice will crop up trying to validate itself. Don’t engage in it or guard yourself against it – do exactly what I suggest in normal life. Ignore it – as I have said, it has power only to say a few short things in order to illicit a response from you and if you ignore it, it will fall asleep, like a child getting tired.

    • Lastly, physical interruptions. Try to sit up straight with minimal back support or you’ll start to fall asleep. Itches will happen at first and it's okay to scratch - you don't have to worry because they will subside. For some reason, sitting cross-legged is really the best way, I don’t know why. No need for anything over the top, just get comfortable.

    Well those are my solutions to dealing with this problem. Everybody has an ego which makes them do things from a place of doubt, anger, frustration, fear or self-entitlement but most of them don’t literally hear the voices – they just react to those niggling little feelings and do something. It’s when you set yourself apart from the ego and begin to fight it that you get yourself into a situation like mine but I have come to realize that it is not a battle that can be won by fighting it. And like any good essay (one hopes) I’ll end with a quote, this one from Jimi Hendrix: “I used to live in a room full of mirrors/all I could see was me/well I take my spirit and I smash my mirrors/now the whole world is here for me to see.”

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