Voices. They are a topic of much discussion within the psychiatric community. There are the voices that some can hear that the rest of us can’t (referred to as auditory hallucinations or internal stimuli). There are the voices in your head that harass you and undermine you (perseverative thoughts). There are the internal voices of reason and morality (the Superego). Then, occasionally, there is the voice in the wind that whispers your name…..
“What in the world is she talking about?”, you may wonder. Let’s be honest: the presence of voices is something that carries much stigma and controversy, but it is not completely understood by the scientific community. Where do they come from? Does the fact that some can hear them, and others can not, necessarily mean that there is never any validity or reality to them? Is it possible that some have a “gift”, that a portion of the brain is turned on, or perhaps hyper-sensitive, and that is why they can see things or hear things that the rest of us can’t? Or is it simply psychiatric disease, causing people to experience things that are not “real”?
It is assumed by many that “voices” are always a sign of psychological pathology. At the risk of having others scratch their head and call me “crazy”, I beg to differ.
It is my theory that sometimes the divine reaches out to us audibly. Before you decide that I have lost it, know this: up to 10-15 percent of the population has claimed that they have heard an unexplainable “voice” at one point or another, and 2/3 of them never go on to need psychiatric treatment (Inter.voice, 2016). Generally, these voices occur after a traumatic event of some type. Furthermore, there are those to whom the “auditory hallucinations” carry no personal distress. I once knew an individual who claimed to hear the voices of angels. They brought her no psychological harm, and actually comforted her.
Dare I propose that perhaps she was actually hearing the voices of angels? Would you think less of me? Would I be naïve or misguided? Perhaps….
But consider this… it is a fact that a majority of Americans believe in angels (CBS News, 2008). Some have miraculous stories of seeing angels, angelic interventions, or hearing them. We read about these stories and cherish them and they inspire us. If we actually met someone who claimed to have these experiences, however, we would immediately become suspicious or concerned. Is this not double-minded? Is it not a possibility that if we believe they actually exist, from time to time, the veil is lifted, and we might experience supernatural phenomena that is not necessarily pathological, but divine?
Don’t get me wrong. It is my belief that there is a location in the brain, that for reasons not completely understood, can cause auditory hallucinations. I am not saying that the voices that are mean or distressing or that are caused by psychiatric illness are always real. To be sure, command hallucinations of a violent/distressing nature must always be taken seriously and demand psychiatric attention. Imbalances of dopamine in the brain have caused known hallucinations connected to illicit substances and/or disease, and they are most assuredly probably not “real”. What I am saying is that, when it comes to phenomena of a less distressing nature, well, who knows? Who is to say that some do not have gifts of glimpsing the supernatural that others do not? This is why, when working in the field, I never said “that voice isn’t real”. I always said “I don’t hear it, but I believe you can”. This is in order to recognize and acknowledge the actual experience, instead of minimizing it. It says nothing about the reality of it or pathology of it or significance of it. It just simply says, “yes, I know this is what you are experiencing”.
People who are experiencing voices are not “crazy”. They are not demon-possessed. Most are not dangerous. Can we please stop that stigma? It is unkind, judgemental, and narrow-minded. There is much that we do not understand. In some cultures, people who experience voices are actually revered. They are considered a glimpse of the divine. Would that America would consider the possibility…
So I’ll say it…. I was once going through a period of extreme depression. On a particular day, when I was actually feeling perfectly fine, I was in a crowded, quiet room, full of exclusively women, and clearly heard someone say my name. It was a male voice, serene and reassuring. It did not frighten me, I did not find it disconcerting in any way whatsoever. It is a moment that I cherish.
Then there was the time I was lying in bed and clearly heard a male voice whisper “peace”. It was right before a time of emotional turmoil, when my life would experience much personal upheaval. I look it as a sign from heaven, reassuring me that everything would be okay. I also recall the time I was in church praying to the Lord to deliver me from a particularly harrowing bout of extreme depression, so bad that I was considering ECT. A woman whom I had known for some time, who was neither “crazy” nor “unstable”, approached me with tears of joy in her eyes. She said she saw a vision of Jesus dropping flowers on me, and that it was a beautiful scene. Her words brought me much comfort.
From time immemorial there have been those who claimed to see angels, Mary, Jesus, etc. Some of them functioned so well that they became canonized Saints….
Life’s lesson is that for those of us with psychiatric conditions, not everything is connected to our OCD, depression, Bipolar Disorder, Psychotic Disorder, etc. Some things are personality, depth, faith….
So there you have it. Yes, I have heard the wind whisper my name. Or perhaps the angels. Or the Holy Spirit, God, Jesus, what have you. I am nothing special, and I am no canonized Saint, but I function just fine and live to spread love and cheer. You can call me crazy…..
But I call myself blessed.
Speaking of angels, there is a new eyeshadow technique sweeping the runways, pictured here (shades by Sweet Minerals). The how-to is below.
The Halo Eyeshadow Technique:
This is a spotlight technique that really makes the eye area glow. Start with primer. Use a medium to dark shade in the crease from the inner to outer corner, skipping the “v” that is often used to bring the shade down to the lid. Sweep an iridescent shade onto the lid, creating a halo “glow”. Use an iridescent white or cream shade just under the brow, then put a little on the inner corner of the eye, by the tear duct.
CBS News. Dec. 21st, 2008. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/do-angels-exist/
Inter.voice (The International Hearing Voices Network). 2016. http://www.intervoiceonline.org/about-voices/essential-facts