Research Is Shedding New Light on Hearing Voices

What are we to think of someone who says that God has spoken to them?  Often the expression “speaks to me” is used figuratively, not literally.  When something really speaks to you, you mean that it is meaningful and emotionally relevant to you.  Mental messages that a person voluntarily generates are simply inner speech, that is, verbal thinking.  Most of our conscious thoughts are verbal.  Although most people can think in non-verbal formats, such as visual imagery, verbal thinking dominates people’s conscious mental processing.

When someone reports hearing a message “in their mind,” usually they don’t mean that they have had a hallucination.  A hallucination is a sensory experience in the absence of an external stimulus to cause the sensory input.  Often, hallucinations are auditory, but hallucinations can also be experienced in the visual or other sense modalities.   Auditory hallucinations are perceived as having the same qualities of sounds generated by external stimuli, and the person is often convinced of the objective reality of the experience.  more

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