Schizophrenia has many misconceptions attached to it and the people with Schizophrenia are often stigmatized. This stigma is extremely damaging and can lead people away from seeking a proper diagnosis and getting the treatment they need. Part of removing this stigma from Schizophrenia is spreading awareness and helping those without it to understand what it is like to deal with.
One of the most common symptoms of Schizophrenia is hearing voices in your head. Hearing voices is known as an auditory hallucination. Auditory hallucinations are extremely real for those with Schizophrenia and result from the makeup of the Schizophrenic brain. They are not the “fault” of the sufferer and should therefore not be stigmatized.
Brain imaging studies have shown that when Schizophrenics hear voices in their heads, the part of the brain that reacts to hearing other people’s voices becomes active. This intense realness of the audio hallucinations is difficult to understand if you have never experienced them, but they are incredibly real.
Sometimes the voices command the Schizophrenic to do certain things, which can result in dangerous situations for others or for the sufferer themselves. The voices may also be highly critical and include ways in which the hearer is inadequate, a failure, or otherwise sub-par. The most important thing to remember is that these voices are not the same as an internal dialogue or regular thoughts.
Both of these types of voices can be dangerous for the hearer and for those around them. This is perhaps where the worst stigma and judgments are attached to Schizophrenics. Others may be afraid of what someone hearing these types of voices may do. While this fear may be founded in some cases, lack of understanding can lead to persecution and ridicule of someone suffering from Schizophrenia. This stigma actually may thwart the Schizophrenic from seeking the treatment they need out of fear of others’ opinions.
Schizophrenia is a serious condition but is much more common than many people think. Many Schizophrenics get their diagnosis, seek treatment, and lead normal lives without anyone knowing about their condition.
If you have Schizophrenia and have audio hallucinations, it is okay. If you fear the stigma surrounding this, start by talking to someone you are close with about your experiences. Understanding is the first step towards removing this stigma, moving the conversation forward, and improving people’s perception of Schizophrenia.
Unfortunately, societal changes start with those who can share their experiences and shed light on something as hard to understand as hearing voices which are only in your head. While it might be difficult for you, you can make a difference. Perhaps a couple simple conversations with people you trust can create a ripple effect which will help someone else feel comfortable coming forward about the voices in their own head and seek treatment before they become overwhelming.