The voices in your head are not real

Recently, someone named Ryan commented this

 

(Not sure if the soundcloud embedded link is working with the editor I use. If it does not, use this link.)

I knew I wasn’t completely crazy because of this audio track. I felt what I could not hear. It’s specifically in contradiction with your article. It’s not for children.

That was in response to what is unfortunately the most popular post on this blog, one that I wrote a while ago about the way meth voices start with pareidolia.

I don’t know if Ryan and Spectre Inspector, who posted the clip to soundcloud, are one and the same, but the latter seems pretty far gone. (Edit: It is the same person.) His comments are mostly incoherent ramblings and he seems obsessed with some girl who looks “identical” to a girl from his delusions, and at one point he describes someone he heard singing – “I could not find the source, as best I could tell it came from the closet.”

Rather than writing it all over again… my reply to Ryan was this:

I don’t know what you think you heard, but thank you for making my point. This is exactly the kind of white noise, similar to loud wind and rain, that lends to you hearing voices when you’re on meth. Finding meaning in the meaningless when it is noise is like seeing rabbits (or jesus or whatever) in clouds.

It works similarly to the type of radio scanners and white noise generators used in so called ghost boxes (or spirit boxes). They (the deluded who believe in that) also have videos, and unless they add subtitles and you “hear” the same as other people thanks to the power of suggestion, no two people will ever hear the same voices.

So tell me, do you hear the same “voices” every time you listen to it?
I suspect not – rather the white noise creates a foundation, an audio “platform” on which you build your hallucinatory soundscape.

Thanks again. This is a perfect example of how meth voices start with pareidolia. But beware, because if you use meth long enough, you won’t need it any more. Eventually you’ll hear voices all the time.

I thought my argument was quite clear. Anyway, the Merriam-Webster definition for pareidolia is the following:

Definition of pareidolia. :the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness. Think of the Rorschach inkblot test.

It’s worth adding that pareidolia can be auditory as well as visual. (Mentioned in this RationalWiki article.)

My original post described how the voices started for me, when I was high on meth and paranoid, after I had already been using a substantial amount daily for a couple of years. It started with auditory pareidolia, in that when there was a lot of ambient noise, such as rain, wind, a loud train that I was travelling on, and similar sounds, I’d hear faint sounds that appeared to be voices in the background. This progressed for me and after a few months, the voices became clear. Eventually I’d hear them all the time, without any noise required to stimulate my brain into “hearing” those patterns and finding meaning in the meaningless.

That was the entire point of the post! … that the voices start that way. I didn’t know that people out there actually sit around listening to white noise and intentionally search for meaning in the meaningless. I didn’t! And that is exactly what EVP is… People deluding themselves into “hearing” voices in white noise. It isn’t clear whether those people are simply extremist believers, psychotic, or under the influence of drugs like meth, but it is clear that whatever they think they hear is not real.

It saddens me that so many people have commented on that post, to say that the voices are real, and written details of the various delusions they have built up around the voices they “hear”. How come all your delusions are not exactly the same, lunatics? Huh huh huh???

For fuck’s sake people, if you hear voices that nobody else can hear, it is not logical to assume that you are special somehow and that there is meaning in those voices. Instead, logic tells you that something is going wrong in your brain, something causing you to hear voices that aren’t really there.

When that happened to me, it became frighteningly obvious that methamphetamine was doing serious harm to my brain. It became important to make a plan to stop using meth. And fortunately for me, the voices stopped as soon as I was clean for about two days. (I didn’t get sobriety right straight away, but every time I quit, that’s what happened.)

I’m not qualified to give advice to anyone who hears voices without using meth, but I can say that whatever you hear is not real. If you hear voices, it means that something is going wrong in your brain. Finding meaning in those voices is a path to psychosis, assuming you’re not psychotic already. The appropriate thing to do is to get help. An inappropriate thing to do is to go to the blog of someone who tries very hard to explain how dangerous those hallucinations are and how they start, and claiming that the voices are real. They are not. I’m always tempted to delete such comments, but maybe they do serve a purpose – they demonstrate how dangerous drugs like meth can be, as they damage your brain, and that damage might be permanent if you don’t do the sensible thing and try to get help when you realize that you’re hearing voices in your head. I can’t fucking believe I even have to explain this. It’s really quite simple: If you are hearing voices in your head, you have a problem.

I don’t know what else to say really… Is there any way I can get through to people like Ryan? Convince him that he needs help? If you reach the point where you are so convinced that the voices you hear are real, that you place a device in the closet to record them, and upload the tracks of nothing but static and background noise to the internet, maybe you’re lost… lost somewhere in your own head; lost in your delusions. Maybe there isn’t always a way back, not for all of us. And that’s sad. Despite my dark humour (using words like “lunatics” and so on), Ryan is not so different to me. He’s not stupid. He just followed the path his brain took him, his brain that has evolved like all of ours to recognize patterns and sometimes get it wrong. I knew several meth addicts who thought the voices were real, and some of them didn’t even know that they heard voices. Don’t be like Ryan. Get help before you lose your mind.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Recovery and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The voices in your head are not real

  1. bbnewsab says:

    Have a look at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/mentally-healthy-but-hearing-voices-increases-suicide-risk-study/8857098 .So I agree with my cyber friend Jerome in his conclusion: “Get help before you lose your mind.”

    Like

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