OCD and Hearing Voices

by stuart miles freedigitalphotos.net

by stuart miles freedigitalphotos.net

Talk about stigma! How many of us would actually admit to hearing voices? My guess is not too many. The truth, however, is that it is not uncommon for people to have this experience at one time or another. Heard someone call your name, but nobody is around? Maybe you’ve heard the voice of a loved one who has died? There have certainly been a few times in my life where I’ve heard voices that aren’t there and have attributed it to my mind “playing tricks on me” (whatever that actually means).

Do people with OCD hear voices more than those who don’t have the disorder? Judging by some past conversations I’ve had with my son Dan, you might think so:

“Dan, is that what you really want to do, or is it your OCD talking?”

“It’s my OCD talking.”

“My OCD is insisting I do this.”

“I really don’t want to listen to my OCD.”

Was Dan actually hearing voices? In his case, as far as I know, the answer is, “No.” He, like many of those with OCD, was referring to what is often described as an internal voice, a constant nagging one that gives orders – a bully who assures the person with OCD of impending doom if certain compulsions aren’t carried out. I think many of us without OCD can relate somewhat to this internal voice. I know I can. The voice in my head is always asking “What if?”

Of course, no discussion about hearing voices is complete without bringing up schizophrenia, a debilitating brain disorder that is typically associated with hearing voices. If you hear voices, does that mean you have, or are on your way to developing, schizophrenia? Not necessarily. First, the auditory hallucinations (hearing voices “outside” of your head) associated with schizophrenia differ from the “inner voices” that many of us are familiar with. Additionally there are currently many theories to explain why people hear voices, though the bottom line is we really don’t know why these experiences occur. Extreme stress and trauma, physical health problems, and spiritual experiences are just a few of the possible explanations given by The Hearing Voices Network, an excellent resource for information and support.

Surprisingly (or maybe not?), it is not uncommon for those with OCD to obsess over hearing voices, and they might worry in particular about developing schizophrenia. Perhaps they fear they might already have the disorder, and then turn to their trusty computer to check out information and symptoms. This only feeds their growing obsession, and before you know it, OCD is off to the races.

There are many unanswered questions about the voices in our heads; so much we don’t yet understand. The good news, I believe, is that we are slowly but surely starting to talk more about this phenomenon. This is so important, as I believe the more individuals talk about the voices they hear, the better we all can begin to understand their meaning.




















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17 Responses to OCD and Hearing Voices

  1. Jueseppi B. says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  2. grannyK says:

    I think we all “hear” voices. Putting a lid on, well anything, is hard for me. I have to take it off and put it on until it feels right and until the “voice” doesn’t say, “No, not right. Do it again.” I have actually been so frustrated with this that I will scream for it to shut up. The thing is, I know the voice is only the same one everyone hears when they think. It’s not a creepy one that I feel is from outside of myself.

  3. I mostly just have my inner critical yakking away. A friend of mine hears voices. It’s very different from the one in my head.

  4. marie says:

    My son has OCD, and my sister is Schizophrenic. The voices they each hear are different. My son says it’s just like a bunch of people talking in the background. My sister says they talk to her and tell her terrilble things like she’s a piece of S&*%. Growing up my sister had always been a little “strange”. But both of them hear the voices inside thier heads. I have heard my name and people talking, but it’s outside of my head. I’m diagnosed as Bi-Polar. I watch my son for signs of Schizophrenia because of the voices.

    • Thanks for sharing, Marie, and it sounds as if there are as many ways to hear voices as there are people hearing them! I find it all so interesting…..and baffling. Wishing you and your family all the best.

  5. I have experienced OCD and Dsythymia for most of my life. Recently I experienced psychotic depression. During my psychotic episode the voices seemed more internal and foreign. http://www.medicaldaily.com/what-hearing-voices-told-those-auditory-hallucinations-325552#.VseMWtoK0V8.twitter

  6. I really hate it, when that voice keeps telling me to re-do something, it really is frustrating. This is an excellent post, I really love it.

  7. Mia says:

    Please help me I’m fourteen I have so many rituals obsessions compulsions it might sound like I’m cray cray but is it ocd or really is it something I have to do otherwise no one will like me bad things might happen I love family and friends especially dancing ones I don’t want to lose them

    • Hi Mia, I can’t diagnose you and my advice would be to confide in an adult you trust (parent, teacher, clergy, other relative) so that they can help point you in the right direction to get help. If you do have OCD, once you have a diagnosis, you can hopefully find a competent therapist to help you out – and you CAN get better! Good luck!

    • Ann Murphy says:

      Hello Mia!
      I was wondering if you ever talked to someone and if so, how are you doing? What you wrote is what my daughter tells me she is experiencing and we are waiting for our appointment on the 28th .
      I hope all is going well with you. God bless

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