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Do All Schizophrenics Hear Voices?

By Lori Smith
Updated Feb 21, 2024
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All schizophrenics do not hear voices, but it is a frequent symptom of the disorder, common to 70% of those who suffer from it. Hallucinations may take many forms and affect any and all of the senses. Medications are often prescribed to treat the condition, but they are not always effective. Many patients require admittance into in a psychiatric facility so that their treatment plan and progress can be appropriately monitored.

For the most part, schizophrenia patients truly believe that when they hear voices, people are talking to them. They usually feel compelled to act on instructions or demands of the hallucinations and are generally unable to grasp the concept that the symptom is solely a manifestation of their mind. The occurrences are very real to them. The same thing often happens with patients who suffer from visual disturbances. They can actually see something in their mind that no one else can see, and they mistake those visions for reality.

When people hear voices, the experience can be very disturbing for them. Many times, the auditory hallucinations are quite mean-spirited and taunting. Occasionally though, the voices are friendly. Sometimes, patients with the disorder believe that they are hearing angels or that a religious figure is speaking to them.

Usually, people who suffer from schizophrenia hear voices intermittently. During times of stress, the hallucinations may appear. Other times, the disturbances may cause the person to be woken up from a sound sleep. There are several instances where the individual with the disorder has no recollection of his or her activities during the time the hallucinations are active, but may be aware that a significant amount of time has suddenly passed.

Auditory hallucinations often lead to delusional thinking and behavior. The person with the disorder may have the irrational belief that someone or something is out to cause harm to him or her. It is not uncommon for a psychiatrist to prescribe antipsychotic medication to eliminate the perception a patient has when he or she claims to hear voices, although many times, the delusional thinking does not readily subside.

The effect that medicine has on a patient's mental state is often determined by the source of the disorder and how long the person has experienced the hallucinations. Many times, schizophrenia symptoms first present during teenage years or in early adulthood. The more time that passes before treatment is administered, however, the less likely the patient will be able to fully recover with therapy and medication.

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Discussion Comments
By miriam98 — On Aug 17, 2011

@Charred - I don’t believe there’s anything paranormal about it, not even in the most extreme cases.

I believe it has to do with chemical imbalances in the brain, and in some cases the condition may be trauma related. Some kids grow up having imaginary friends, which is not necessarily abnormal in itself, but if these kids have been subjected to abuse of any kind their imaginary friends may become more and more real to them.

Soon the voices are ever present. It will take therapy and honestly dealing with the issues of the past before these people can be cured.

By Charred — On Aug 16, 2011

@Mammmood - I think that one of things that has made a diagnosis of schizophrenia difficult is the confusion of this kind of condition with paranormal activity.

Some people view the whole phenomenon as emanating from the spirit world. Of course, doctors can’t approach it from this vantage point, and by training they have to discount such notions as fanciful superstition.

However, there are still many people who believe that these things are real, and that the voices are not mere hallucinations but actual other worldly entities. I don’t subscribe to that myself necessarily, but I’m kind of on the fence about the reality of paranormal phenomenon.

By Mammmood — On Aug 16, 2011

@nony - I think we hear voices from time to time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are schizophrenic. Voices are the whispers of the subconscious mind coming to the surface, in my opinion.

Thoughts can take the form of voices. When does it become dangerous? I think if someone is perpetually preoccupied, and is in a constant state of isolation and withdrawal from human contact, then there is a problem.

I’m not a medical doctor, but that’s what I gather from some of the case studies I’ve read about. People who are really schizophrenic are really living in their own world and have lost touch with reality.

By nony — On Aug 15, 2011

I have a friend who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was given medication. He was emotionally impulsive, and while I don’t know if he ever heard voices, he did think that people were always out to get him.

He’d jump from job to job, and in each job he’d stir up controversy against the boss or fellow employers. People would try to reason with him, but he had these perpetual delusions of conspiracy. Sometimes he would calm down for awhile and everything would seem to be okay, but then he’d have an outburst again.

The medication eventually helped him, but it didn’t happen at first. I think it’s more of a suppressant or depressant, and he later told me he thought the medication did more harm than good. He seems to be okay now, but I think it took some real therapy to get him over his condition.

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