Many famous and noted people have spoken about their voice-hearing experiences in the media. We’ve included a few of these people below.
John Frusciante (Guitarist, ex Red Hot Chili Peppers)
I had just so many mental problems. It wasn’t until I was 28 that my brain actually felt like a spacious place. When I was 18, 19, 22, my brain was just clogged all the time – non-stop voices. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. There was a lot of confusion inside me, this flood of voices, often contradicting each other, often telling me stuff that would happen in the future, and then it would happen, voices insulting me, telling me what to do.
Danny McNamara (Vocalist, Embrace)
In his blog, Danny McNamara recently wrote:
Between the ages of 19 and 22 I suffered from a horrendous condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I won’t go into too much gory detail here but all I will say is that for the best part of three years I was in a living hell. It felt like the rest of the world was at the other side of translucent bullet proof ice. I couldn’t even cope with basic functions. I was having up to fifteen panic attacks a day. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I went down to about ten stone, which isn’t very much when you are 6ft 2” tall. I almost died. I’d spend all day fighting my thoughts, and all night running from imaginary demons and voices.
Once I locked myself in the bathroom because all I could hear in my head were these awful voices telling me to hurt and kill. I didn’t want to hurt anyone but I’d been fighting my thoughts for months and I’d got to the point where I’d become terrified that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. I even somehow had a knife in my hands. I remember shaking uncontrollably and sitting in the bath and turning on the hot water hoping the shock would bring me to my senses. It didn’t. As the pain from the scalding water went through my body the voices just got louder and more horrific and more confident and started laughing and saying I deserved it repeatedly over and over, and that I should use the knife on myself before I hurt my family on the other side. It wasn’t living and it wasn’t pretty, and so that’s as much as I want to say about it for now.
Aged 22, I picked up a guitar for the first time and learned some chords. The illness took a while to lift, but as it did, the demons that kept me up all night just enabled me to spend more time writing. So I sat there with my acoustic guitar and I wrote and wrote and wrote. And as I got better, I wrote even more. The illness that had smashed me to pieces, the horror that had me fighting for air, isolated and trapped behind an ice wall now enabled me to see the world with growing clarity as the ice melted. Colours burned brighter, orchestras played in my head. I felt so alive, I could f***ing taste it. Songs poured out of me. As my health came back, I was able to help my dad on the building site by day and then write songs all night. I wasn’t sleeping very much at that time but it felt like I’d wasted the last three years as a walking zombie and I didn’t know how long this new alive feeling was going to last. Well not only did it last, it continued and still continues to enhance every aspect of my life to this day.
Anthony Hopkins (Actor)
I’ve always had a little voice in my head, particularly when I was younger and less assured”, he said. “While onstage, during classical theatre the voice would suddenly say, “Oh, you think you can do Shakespeare, do you?” and he added; “Recently, I was being interviewed on television and the voice inside my head said to me, “Who the hell do you think you are. You’re just an actor, what the hell do you know about anything”.
Zoe Wannamaker (Actress)
“It’s like a little person sitting on your shoulder saying “No that’s wrong. Don’t do this. Don’t do that…
It’s got in the way when I was working, because my concentration would be tripped by this voice in the back of my head. You think you’re concentrating, but the voices were also saying “your not concentrating”.
I know it sounds like Joan of Arc, but it was a sort of chatter that would be going on while I was on stage.
They come back occasionally and have a good chat”.
Sigmund Freud (Father of Psychoanalysis)
“During the days when I was living alone in a foreign city … I quite often heard my name suddenly called by an unmistakable and beloved voice. I then noted down the exact moment of the hallucination and made anxious enquiries of those at home about what had happened at that time. Nothing had happened.”
Gandhi (Father of Indian Independence)
“For me the Voice of God, of Conscience, of Truth, or the Inner Voice or ‘the Still Small Voice’ mean one and the same thing. I saw no form. I have never tried, for I have always believed God to be without form. But what I did hear was like a Voice from afar and yet quite near. It was as unmistakable as some human voice definitely speaking to me, and irresistible. I was not dreaming at the time I heard the Voice. The hearing of the Voice was preceded by a terrific struggle within me. Suddenly the Voice came upon me. I listened, made certain it was the Voice, and the struggle ceased. I was calm. The determination was made accordingly, the date and the hour of the fast were fixed…”
Saint Joan of Arc (Revolutionary Historial Figure)
Joan started to hear voices when she was 13. She believed these voices were angels and saints, messengers from God. Whilst Joan was initially scared of the voices, and felt unable to talk to others about them, she began to build a better relationship with them. Some of these angels appeared in visions, as faces or – sometimes – accompanied by bright light. The voices commanded her to support the french army fight off the english. Aged 16, she presented herself to the leader of the army and was ridiculed. A year later, she returned but the leader took her seriously. Dressed as a boy, she went on to lead 100s of men into battle. Whilst years later she was burned at the stake as a witch/heretic, she was declared a saint in 1920.
William Blake (Poet, Painter & Printmaker)
“I know that our deceased friends are more really with us than when they were apparent to our mortal part. Thirteen years ago I lost a brother, and with his spirit I converse daily and hourly in the spirit, and see him in my remembrance, in the region of my imagination. I hear his advice, and even now write from his dictate”
Philip K Dick (Writer)
Philip, talking about his encounter with ‘a transcendentally rational mind’, said:
“It hasn’t spoken a word to me since I wrote The Divine Invasion. The voice is identified as Ruah, which is the Old Testament word for the Spirit of God. It speaks in a feminine voice and tends to express statements regarding the messianic expectation. It guided me for a while. It has spoken to me sporadically since I was in high school. I expect that if a crisis arises it will say something again. It’s very economical in what it says. It limits itself to a few very terse, sucinct sentences. I only hear the voice of the spirit when I’m falling asleep or waking up. I have to be very receptive to hear it. It sounds as though it’s coming from millions of miles away”.
Vinnie Jones (English Footballer & Actor)
Jones says his biggest role model was his grandfather. He is convinced that Arthur Jones, a decorator who died in 1977, has continued to offer guidance from ‘the other side’.
“I talk to him all time,’ he says. ‘So many spooky things have happened over the years. When I was a groundsman I would talk to my grandad all day long and say, “Just give me one chance to play in the fourth division, anything. Four years later, I won the FA Cup.”
Socrates (Greek Philosopher)
Socrates’ relied on what the Greeks called his “daemonic sign”, an averting (ἀποτρεπτικός) inner voice that Socrates heard only when he was about to make a mistake. It was this sign that prevented Socrates from entering into politics.
Dr John Forbes Nash (Award Winning Mathematician)
“Initially I did not hear any voices. Some years went by before I heard voices and — I became first disturbed in 1959, and I didn’t hear voices until the summer of 1964 I think, but then after that, I heard voices, and then I began arguing with the concept of the voices. And ultimately I began rejecting them and deciding not to listen, and, of course, my son has been hearing voices, and if he can progress to the state of rejecting them, he can maybe come o ut of his mental illness.
The consequence of rejecting the voices is ultimately not hearing the voices. You’re really talking to yourself is what the voices are, but it’s also parallel to a dream. In a dream it’s typical not to be rational.
I had some philosophical ideas that were involved. I found myself thinking in political terms, but then I found myself able to criticize this thinking – - that it wasn’t very valuable to think in political terms. Even now, I sometimes have a new realization that it can be not so good to think in political terms about some of the current issues. One can leave that to others.
So in rejecting some of the political ideas, that had a relation to the voices, so I could think of a voice maybe as presenting what was analogous to a political argument, and then I could say, I don’t want to listen to that”
Zinedine Zidane (French Footballer)
Zinedine talked about a voice that inspired him to come out of retirement
“This is even irrational and that’s why I am the only person to be able to truly feel it. One night, at 3am, I suddenly woke up and I then spoke with someone. But no-one knows it. Neither my wife nor anyone else. Until I die I will never tell (who that person was), this is just too crazy. This is someone that you will probably never meet.”
“During the hours that followed I was on my own with that person, at home, and I took the decision to come back. I had never experienced that before, I felt pushed by this force which dictated my behaviour. It was a revelation for me, I had to obey that voice that was advising me.”
Zinedine later recanted this statement, saying that it had been misinterpreted. Reading some of the football fans reaction to his statement one wonders whether it was a misunderstanding or proof that hearing voices is still a very taboo subject in the sporting world.