Urgh. Sometimes it pisses me off that I wrote that old post about how meth voices in your head start with pareidolia. It was intended to be an informational post, with a hint of dark humour, but basically just some anecdotes from my unfortunate years of living with meth addiction and hearing voices.
Back when I was a tweaker and heard voices, I assumed that most people who heard voices figured out that the voices were only in their heads, just like me. After all, I figured that out while high, paranoid, and delusional. (And I do mean delusional… Delusion is unavoidable when the voices seem so real. ) I assumed most, not all, because in those first few years when I was still a sociable tweaker, I did meet other tweakers who clearly heard voices and did not know it.
But reality came knocking in the form of a post where the comments never end, written by people smart enough to reach my blog after searching for meth voices, but who remain convinced the voices are real. To make matters worse, it’s not only meth-heads who find the post, but also others who hear voices and seek answers but do not want to accept the answer that the voices are internal to their minds.
I can not emphasize this enough… There is no meaning to be found in the voices in your head. No religious meaning, so you are not being contacted by gods or demons or aliens; no conspiratorial meaning, so no government or shady organization is trying to control you – and mind control is not a thing. Any meaning you perceive, anything at all, is delusion. There’s no shame in that, but if you hear voices and find meaning in them, you are delusional. Realizing it is key. It is better to be delusional and know it than the alternative, because that gives you the power to seek help. I am not qualified to advise you on what kind of help you need… I can only say that if the voices are induced by hard drugs as mine were, you need to stop using those drugs. Beyond that, the sensible thing to do is seek help from a mental health professional. I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t need help because the voices stopped after I stopped using meth, and also every timr I stopped even for a week or so. I remain interested in the subject because I did live with them for several years, which leaves me empathetic to others who experience similar symptoms.
If you hear voices and are convinced that you have tested them scientifically and concluded they are real, or believe others in your household also hear them, or that you recorded them and can hear the voices when you play back the recordings, all of those things are part of your delusions. You simply can not trust your own thoughts about the voices. You don’t know the difference between the voices in your head and the conversations you’ve had with others. Every conversation that confirms them to be real happened only in your head too. If you play back recordings of the voices, you are just listening to white noise and hearing voices that aren’t really there… again. That’s how audio pareidolia works.
I’m writing this because of recent comments I received by someone who is absolutely convinced that the voices are real, to whom I responded only to have him or her claim to have tested the voices scientifically. I see no point in continuing that conversation. This is not something to debate. There is never meaning to the voices and when you claim that there is, you don’t convince anybody, you just come across as a crazy person. Unfortunately the last sentence is probably not entirely true… you may well convince other people who also hear voices. You may find an online echo chamber of people who also hear voices and share similar conspiratorial or paranoid views to yours, since there are some common threads among those who think the voices are real. That is not a good thing.
Seriously, I am out of ways of expressing this… The voices in your head are never real and there are no exceptions. There is no evidence for you to present to anybody to convince them that the voices are real (because they’re only in your head), and you are not special, not some inexplicable exception for whom the voices are real and do have meaning. Seek help before it’s too late. You are not alone. There are many people worldwide who live with voices in their heads. Help is available if you look for it, but arguing with some guy on the internet to try convincing him your voices are real is not the right way to go.
Update: It’s worth mentioning that pareidolia is when your brain interprets random patterns as something distinct. (This can be audio or visual.) With audio pareidolia this often means hearing distinct sounds, such as voices, in white noise. It just so happens that’s exactly how meth-induced voices start, but over time your brain gets “trained” to do this all the time. Vague voice-like sounds, such as the “cross-talk” described by the commenter in the linked comments on my old post, make way to fully fledged voices saying distinct things. (Add to this being high and paranoid, or mentally ill and paranoid, and you get delusion as a natural side effect.) This is why I can presume that hearing voices when you play back recordings of them is just an example of pareidolia again.
Interestingly, there is an entire bunk field called electronic voice phenomena (EVP) where believers actually listen to white noise and interpret the “voices” they hear as spiritual voices. They even use devices based on the idea of Frank’s Box to trigger the pareodolia. Such devices deliberately use either radio scanning or other means such as randomizing sampled voices in software to provide the audio source. Thus their entire field is based around assuming that voices they deliberately create in noise are somehow voices of “spirits”, which I find hilarious. So besides the people who live with either drug-induced voices in the heads or voices caused by some sort of mental illness, there are also people who are otherwise healthy but go out of their way to listen to generated white noise to find meaning that isn’t really there. There’s an overlap, of course, but people tend to be secretive about their drug use so it would be difficult to determine how prevalent drug use and/or mental illness is in EVP practitioners.
A related term is apophenia, which is the perception of connections between unrelated things. This often manifests as conspiracies. Maybe now you can see why I am interested in all these things…