Kids Who Hear Voices Not That Unusual

Some children develop imaginary friends. This is a natural activity during childhood. Parents should not get unduly concerned over the matter. Eventually your child should develop relations with people of flesh and blood. Of course, I’m not saying that such a development won’t require a push from somebody else; you just sort of have to adopt a wait and see attitude about the matter.

Now here’s a news release from Reuter’s saying that some children—Oh my gosh!—hear voices.

Nearly 1 in 10 seven- to eight-year-olds hears voices that aren’t really there, according to a new study.

Although this may seem like a good reason for you to reach for the phone and call a shrink, hold on.

But most children who hear voices don’t find them troubling or disruptive to their thinking, the study team found. “These voices in general have a limited impact in daily life,” Agna A. Bartels-Velthuis of University Medical Center Groningen in The Netherlands wrote in an email to Reuters Health.

The volume can be turned down.

Up to 16 percent of mentally healthy children and teens may hear voices, the researchers note in the British Journal of Psychiatry. While hearing voices can signal a heightened risk of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in later life, they add, the “great majority” of young people who have these experiences never become mentally ill.

So much for all the hoopla, if we can offer refuge to a few imaginary friends for a spell, we can put up with a few voices that aren’t there for a period. Eventually, just like the imaginary friends, the voices should vacate the premises.

4 Responses

  1. People seem to think that this hearing voices stuff is the golden hallmark of schizophrenia diagnosis. It’s just out of old movies where it was an easy theatrical effect. People can have all kinds of synesthetic experiences but for some reason they are considered pathological when the person also happens to be in a distressed state.

    I must have been asked 20 or 30 times by idiots, “Do you hear voices?”. My standard reply is. “Get Fucked”. Let them conclude what they want.

  2. I don’t hear those voices either. As when some shrink runs down with me his twenty questions–Do you think people are out to get you? (The correct answer for “mental health” is no. The correct answer for “paranoia” is yes.) Do you hear voices telling you to harm yourself or another person? (The correct answer for “mental health” is no. If you answer yes, you’ve just given the shrink the legal justification to start civil commitment proceedings against you.) Point, not only is what you say important, but you have to be careful not to say “the wrong” thing. Hear voices or don’t hear voices, the answer to that question should always be no.

    A certain percentage of the population does hear voices I’ve heard, and not all of this population is ‘crazy’. How a person responds to the voices he or she may hear can have a lot to do with that. Some people, for instance, are far too respectful to ever talk back to their voices. I think that’s overdoing it. Levity is usually a good way to deal with these matters.

    If you know anybody who hears voices, there is a network made for, and of, voice hearers’. Support never hurts, especially when you’re hearing things nobody else is.


    Hearing Voices Network

    In Australia:

    Hearing Voices Network Australia

  3. Have you heard of this study? It made a great headline for a post on my Danish blog: “One third of the American population psychotic” 😀

    Especially I love the idea, that the shrinks had to ask the one third of participants in the study who heard voices or held “unusual” beliefs if they were on neuroleptics in order to find out who really (?) was “psychotic”, and who not. You’re “mentally ill” when you go see a shrink and get a prescription. You’re not “mentally ill” when you don’t. Convincingly scientific criteria for a diagnosis (NOT).

    You can also hear Dutch psychiatrist Jim Van Os talk about the study here.

    BTW, if I had one I’d never drag my kid to a shrink’s office, whether possible imaginary friends/voices chose to vacate the premises or not. Somewhere I recently read that actually more often than not they don’t. It’s just that usually the kid stops talking about them when s/he finds out that neither imaginary friends nor voices are especially welcome by our culture.

    • I thought this finding of the study mentioned curious: “A clinician diagnosis of nonaffective psychosis was significantly associated with low income; unemployment a marital status of single, divorced, or separated; and urban residence.”

      You’re talking socio-environmental reasons here, nothing bio-medical model about that at all. Rather than drugging people, maybe someone ought to see about raising income levels, providing employment services, plus socializing dating services, and aiding in relocation.

      I’ve seen too many career “mental health consumers” who were started on that track as young children to encourage anybody to send their child to a shrink. These career mental patients are not, given long term institutionalization and psychiatric over drugging, in the best of physical health either. Parents should make sure they get their children traveling on a path that leads to success rather than on one that leads to treatment.

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