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ca 610 __ Hearing voices — Auditory hallucinations
Mahomet (570-632)
Comment : Just like a dream, a hallucination recombines old sensory and mental impressions: "It is therefore conceivable that what Muhammad saw and heard may have been the beings described to him by the Jews and Christians with whom he talked. It is understandable that, in the words that came to him, elements of his actual experience, the stuff of his thoughts, dreams and meditations, and memories of the discussions that he had heard, should have re-emerged, chopped, changed and transposed, with an appearance of immediate reality that seemed to him proof of some external activity which, although inaccessible to other men's minds, was yet wholly objective in its nature." Throughout his career as a Prophet (except, as we shall see, at the very beginning), Mohammed genuinely believed that the visions and spoken messages which he "received" were of divine origin. His wahi or Quranic trance seemed to make a far deeper impression on his mind than any ordinary human experience could, and he therefore considered it supremely real. Today, both in mental hospitals and in the cult scene, you can find numerous people who likewise believe to be regular recipients of messages from Above. In some cases, these people manage to make others believe in their claims, too. They then set themselves up as cult leaders, revered by a group of followers as their direct telephone line to God or the spirit world. It is not uncommon for people who regularly hallucinate to function fairly normally in the world, sometimes even highly successfully. Thus, Joan of Arc derived from her visions the strength to lead an army against the British invaders of France. Chengiz Khan transmuted the shamanic messages from his god Il-Tengri into a trail of battlefield victories founding a far-flung empire, which disintegrated a few generations later. In terms of durability and ultimate geographical expansion of his religio-political empire, Mohammed was the single most successful voice-hearer in world history. It is only in a very few cases later on in his career that both contemporaries and later scholars of Islam have found reason to cast doubt on the genuineness of certain instances of his Quranic trance. These are the cases where the divine messages received during wahi were just a little too convenient not to look like Mohammed's self-serving fabrications. [...] The real problem arises when he understands God/Allah as exclusively the character revealed in the Quran, the collection of sayings which Mohammed claimed to have heard from a supernatural source identified as the Archangel Gabriel. The ultimate core of Islam is not Allah and monotheism, but Mohammed and prophethood. Monotheism is a fairly widespread idea, but Mohammed and his Quran are truly the defining elements of Islam. If the oneness of God can conditionally be accepted as a valid manner of speaking about the Divine, there can be no compromise with Mohammed's deluded belief in his exclusive telephone line with Heaven. Here, we hit the radically irrational and unacceptable core of Islam. Here, there is no room for sweet-talk, even if only metaphorically or figuratively intended, of a "basic unity" or "equal truth" of all religions. The defining core belief of Islam is wrong. It is nothing but the paranoid delusion of an ordinary early-medieval Arab businessman. Putting such vain self-delusion on a par with the profound insights of a Yajñavalkya, a Buddha, a Confucius, a Laozi or a Socrates, is plainly absurd. (Dr. Koenraad Elst, “Wahi: the Supernatural Basis of Islam”)Auditory Hallucinations - Songwriters and poets have long acknowledged their role as ‘medium’, acting as a conduit or vessel to the source of inspiration that is ultimately responsible for the words and verses that come forth. The relationship between a composer and their muse can vary from the artist claiming complete intellectual control on the one hand, to giving oneself over totally to the ‘voice within’. However, in surveying the testimony of many composers and songwriters, even the most hard-boiled egos admit to some kind of interior or exterior influence that trancends intellect alone. Some kind of ritual or exercise is often invoked by the artist in order to bring oneself into a particular state of consciousness that is most conducive to the creative experience. It can happen spontaneously as well of course. But in either case, when the portals are opened and creative juices are flowing, it is a different state of mind from the one we usually inhabit. When asked in an interview recently how he goes “fishing” for his melodies, a composer/guitarist replied, “I have found what works best is to stop “fishing” altogether and give myself over to the process. I let the fish catch me.” There is a similar experience that has been documented for thousands of years in cases involving mystics and madmen and has been perceived at times as a blessing, at other times a curse. In superstitious times or in religious cultures that hold visionary states in high regard, these episodes of other-worldly communications can be revered, even praised and accepted as valid messages from a higher authority. While the messenger’s life may often become somewhat complicated, even troubled by such experiences such as what happened with Joan of Arc, the overall response to the event could often be considered as positive. Joan was in the end made a saint. In the age of science however such things are usually seen as pathological. Indeed the first hundred years or so of modern psychology consisted of primarily investigating pathological states of mind as if concentrating on the negative was the best way to bring about positive change for anyone afflicted with mental illness. Only with the rise of humanistic psychology in recent years has it dawned on scientists and psychologists that we might find something of value by studying healthy, positive states of mind as well. Of course “hearing voices” or channeling spiritual messages from beyond is usually not considered to be anything like what happens when a composer enters a state of reverie and calls forth a symphonic poem or sonata. (Rosemary Brown notwithstanding, who while never trained at the piano at all, would throughout her life dash off complete “new” compositions in the style of past masters such as Tchaikovsky, Liszt and Mozart. She believed those composers were using her to transmit new works to the world.) For the most part the talents and gifts of songwriters, poets and composers are simply regarded as creative contributions from imaginative and fertile minds and seldom referred to as pathological. But if someone writes down thousands of pages of teachings from an ancient teacher, or the complete history of distant worlds as told to them by some alien intelligence, or claims to be transmitting messages from ascended masters dwelling in the Himalayas, these experiences are either rejected as outright fraudulent, or considered as evidence of some kind of mental breakdown, at best a spiritual emergency requiring serious psychological and/or medical treatment rather than as any kind of legitimate spiritual emergence worthy of compassionate consideration. Is it the abstract nature of music and art that protects the artist from such outlandish treatment? Or simply that society doesn’t much care what artists do - its of no real consequence, it is after all, “only art”. Somehow even the most socially conscientious, politically motivated songs can be easily dismissed by many people as simply the creative if somewhat annoying ‘indulgences’ of over-educated middle-class youth. Such messages might make for an interesting evening’s concert. But by the end of the night the discussion usually winds up with something like “if that person had to “work for a living” at a “real job”, they’d quickly come to their senses and stop wasting time with such idealistic philosophies.” But if the message isn’t coming from a performing artist, if someone claims to be relaying the words of an unseen entity from a remote time or place, we label such behavior pathological and call for the doctor. Perhaps the difference has to do with the associative and dis-associative natures of the two types of expression. In the case of the musician or artist, the whole creative process is seen as something the person has integrated into their lives in a more or less healthy way (though there are a great many examples of that not being the case at all). The products are ‘owned’ by the artist who takes responsibility for the ideas, even if they may give credit to some intangible muse or source of inspiration for some of the content, they generally consider the work their own. Whereas the person channeling the teachings of some ancient priestess is not aware of any personal connection at all to said teachings. These words are spoken by other mouths, not their own - in fact often the person’s voice and physical demeanor undergoes a radical transformation while this is occuring and returns to their own when the experience is over. Sometimes the person is in a trance-like state and is not reachable at all until the ‘other’ voice has finished. It does seem to those observing that the person standing there before them has been taken over by some entirely other personality. An interesting case to study would be that of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. On the one hand he was obviously an acknowledged master of the arts and somewhat of a national bard. His poetry stands as some of the finest in the western world and he was a respected scholar. But he took an interest in the occult for a time and appears to have contacted a spirit entity who conveyed certain ideas and specific writings to him which Yeats claims are not simply the product of his own poetic imagination. Then too there is the contemporary American poet James Merrill, highly respected and acknowledged as one of America’s finest poets, who, over a period of 20 years held seances in his home and has published much of what was received there from the spirits of two deceased friends, the poet W.H. Auden, and the archangel Michael, among others. See “The Book of Ephraim” in his Divine Comedies, published in 1976, Mirabell: Books of Number published in 1978 and The Changing Light of Sandover, 1982. Since in both these cases we are dealing with poets who had already established themselves as bonafide academicians before delving into the occult, it appears that the critics have either granted them some poetic license for their visionary experiences, or simply pass it off as just a different kind of poetry essentially still the work of the poets themselves. In neither case does anyone suggest that something pathological is going on here. So why is it that when someone tells us they are hearing voices, and they have very specific messages to relate, why is the knee-jerk reaction so often ridicule or at best sympathy or pity?. (soundpossibilities.org)
French comment : Un pourcentage important de personnes admettent avoir entendu des voix à un moment de leur vie, et soixante pour cent des personnes atteintes de schizophrénie ont des hallucinations auditives. Dans la population générale, les études épidémiologiques estiment qu'entre 10 et 39% des personnes interrogées ont entendu des voix au moins une fois dans leur vie (Shergill et al., 1998). Il y a un certain nombre de situations dans la vie qui peuvent conduire à entendre des voix. Par exemple dans la période qui suit la perte d'un être cher ou consécutivement à un stress menaçant la vie ou l'intégrité de la personne (abus sexuels et physiques, confrontation à une catastrophe ou au combat, etc.). Il est fréquent d'entendre des voix dans des conditions extrêmes, par exemple en haute altitude (Brugger & al., 1999), suite à une privation de sommeil (Devillières et al., 1996) ou dans le cadre de confinement solitaire (Grassian et al., 1983). Les hallucinations auditives sont fréquentes parmi les patients psychiatriques. Elles sont les plus répandues dans la schizophrénie. En moyenne, 60% des personnes atteintes de cette maladie ont des hallucinations auditives. Les personnes qui présentent des hallucinations auditives dans la population générale démontrent un meilleur contrôle sur cette expérience que celles qui souffrent de troubles psychotiques et leurs hallucinations sont généralement moins persistantes.Définition.Les hallucinations auditives verbales sont la perception de voix qui procurent la même sensation immédiate de réalité qu'une perception réelle en l'absence de stimulations externes de l'appareil auditif. Elles doivent être distinguées des illusions où un stimulus extérieur est mal perçu ou mal interprété. La personne a l'impression que les voix proviennent de l'extérieur de sa tête et qu'elle les entend réellement par les oreilles. Il peut s'agir d'une ou plusieurs voix qui s'adressent au sujet à la seconde ou à la troisième personne. Dans le cadre d'un deuil, il s'agit le plus fréquemment d'une voix qui appelle le sujet par son nom et lui dit simplement un ou deux mots.L’apparition du phénomène.L'apparition des voix commence par une phase de stupéfaction. Le début est généralement soudain et il est tout d'abord vécu comme une expérience effrayante. Les personnes qui entendent des voix se sentent impuissantes par rapport à l'expérience. Ensuite, les réactions dépendent de la façon dont elles interprètent leur voix. Si les voix sont perçues comme bienveillantes, les gens se sentiront soutenus et trouveront les voix généralement utiles et agréables. Ils auront une plus grande facilité à les intégrer comme faisant partie d'eux-mêmes. En revanche, si les voix sont vécues comme agressives ou malveillantes, cela conduira à de l'angoisse et à un sentiment d'impuissance. La perception malveillante des voix est aussi accompagnée par une grande préoccupation qui interférera avec le fonctionnement. Les personnes auront plus de difficultés à intégrer leurs hallucinations comme un phénomène généré par elles-mêmes. Certaines peuvent avoir des voix mixtes, parfois positives, parfois négatives.Modèle cognitif des voix.Chadwick et Birchwood (1994) ont testé un modèle cognitif qui prédit que la détresse des personnes qui entendent des voix est consécutive aux croyances qu'elles développent au sujet de leurs voix plutôt qu'en simple contenu des voix. Ils ont interviewé 26 patients avec un diagnostic de schizophrénie. Les résultats indiquent que pour l'ensemble des patients interviewés, les voix sont perçues comme omnipotentes. Cette interprétation est basée sur le fait que les voix sont fréquemment accompagnées de symptômes collatéraux (hallucinations visuelles, sentiment de contrôle). Certains patients pensent que les voix peuvent produire certains événements et influencer leur comportement. Par la suite, ils définissent ces événements comme des preuves du grand pouvoir des voix. Par exemple, un patient qui s'était mutilé après avoir entendu des voix pensait que les voix l'avaient obligé à se mutiler. La moitié des patients percevaient l'intention de la voix comme étant malveillante. Ce qu'ils expliquent le plus souvent comme une punition pour un écart de conduite ou une persécution non méritée. Pour un quart du groupe, les voix étaient interprétées comme bienveillantes; dans ce cas, le patient pense qu'elles servent à le protéger, à le conseiller et à l'aider. Pour le reste du groupe l'interprétation des voix était mixte, un mélange de bienveillance et de malveillance où les patients n'étaient pas sûr de l'intention des voix ou de l'identité de la voix. Le plus souvent, dans 70% des cas, le contenu des voix est congruent à la croyance que le patient a développée. Il y a là un lien fort entre la voix et son interprétation. Les inconsistance des patients sont par exemple qu'une voix avec un contenu bénin est perçue comme malveillante ou inversement, une voix désagréable et insultante est définie comme bienveillante.Voix bienveillantes, voix malveillantes.En fonction de la croyance que les patients vont avoir au sujet de leur voix, ils vont présenter des réactions comportementales très différentes. Si les voix sont perçues comme bienveillantes, les patients vont plutôt chercher le contact avec leurs voix. En revanche, si les voix sont perçues comme malveillantes, elles vont conduire les patients à résister par exemple en discutant ou en criant contre les voix de façon ouverte ou couverte, par la non-observance ou l'observance des ordres à contrecoeur, par l'évitement des déclencheurs. Finalement, les patients peuvent utiliser l'indifférence, en ignorant les voix ou leur contenu. Le lien entre la croyance et la conséquence comportementale ou émotionnelle est très fort. L'observance des ordres donnés par les voix peut être totale ou partielle. Généralement, les patients tentent de résister aux voix malveillantes et d'obéir aux voix bienveillantes.Thérapie cognitive des voix.La thérapie cognitive des voix vise la compréhension et la remise en question des croyances principales au sujet des voix dans le but de réduire la détresse et de faciliter le développement de nouvelles stratégies d'adaptation. Elle vise concrètement à aider les patients schizophrènes à faire face à l'emprise des voix. Une personne qui entend des voix peut être totalement sous leur emprise, du moins jusqu'au moment où elle apprend à désobéir à celles-ci. (J. Favrod, T. Krummenacher, B. de Cocatrix, C. Gogon, “Le phénomène des hallucinations auditives”, In Défi Schizophrénie” Volume 9 #5, Société Québécoise de la Schizophrénie)
Source : Chadwick, P. & Birchwood, M. (1994), “The omnipotence of voices. A cognitive approach to auditory hallucinations”. British Journal of Psychiatry, 164, pp. 190-201.
Urls : http://www.soundpossibilities.org/html/music___mind___brain.html%23AuditoryHallucinations (last visited ) http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/irin/wahiusa.html (last visited ) http://www.schizophrenie.qc.ca/FR/Defi/Articles/9-5Hallucination.html (last visited ) http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/177/3/229 (last visited ) http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/164/2/190?ijkey=478656f1aee096f773205413afe6ba7ee172dc05&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha (last visited )

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