Feb 7, 2010

Kids Who Hear Voices

According to this article, sent to me by my friend Ann, the phenomenon is a lot more common that we would think. A group of Dutch medical researchers, publishing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, studied a group of 8- and 9-year-olds to find out how many of them heard voices that other people couldn't hear. Ten percent of them reported having what the researchers call "verbal auditory hallucinations." Sixteen percent of children and teens are believed to hear such voices. That's almost one out of five.
You can read a summary of the article here.

Whoa. I found this fascinating on several points. First, because so few of the kids seemed to be bothered by the voices they heard. They took it totally in stride. Second, because there were no other symptoms pointing toward pathology, and in the end the majority of these kids were determined to be perfectly fine, i.e. no evidence of mental illness at all.

And third, because the researchers don't ever say what, exactly, the kids were hearing--don't you wonder what the voices were saying to them?--or speculate about what these voices might have been. I guess "verbal auditory hallucination" is a way of saying the voices were imagined, but it seemed to be real to the kids. What kind of mental process, outside of mental illness, would make voices appear in one's head?

Our family's story was different, insofar that our daughter did seem troubled--extremely troubled--by what she claimed she could hear. Still, whenever an article like this shows up on my radar I'm interested in it, since even after all this time I don't have a definitive answer about what plagued my daughter, only a story about an unconventional journey that by all accounts, seemed to help.


Anonymous said...

Hello Hope,

I just finished your recent book last night and it was nice to get back to you. I forgot or never realized some of the things we have in common.

I started Motherless Daughters soon after it came out but could not manage to read it, it was just too close to home.

My Mom died at the age of 41 from Breast cancer when I was 17. I have 2 younger sibs and and my father was an alcoholic.

I've given your first book to others over the years - mostly to a few of my college students who confided to me about the recent loss of a Mom.

I am only just now ready to dust off my old copy and give it another go. I also look forward to reading Motherless Mothers.

I love that you took Maya to a shaman - I would do the same if I needed to. The conclusion of that story was literally jaw dropping as I read it last night, and it affirmed my own willingness to go to any lengths for my children.

I'm going to go to Amazon.com next and do a review, having read your blog about some of the less charitable comments. I remember that my Mom used to say "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." What is with these people who look for opportunities to express their negativity?

Anyway, no one has given motherless daughters what you have - your gift has been profound and unique. I know that your work will be a strong support in my own next steps in dealing with my loss 30 years ago.

Thank you so much for your open sharing and the validation and guidance that your books provide.

This was my first ever response to a blog - nice to connect with you but a bit inadequate. I feel like we should have a glass of wine and a long talk. I'm guessing many of your readers feel the same.


Carrie Wilson Link said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrie Wilson Link said...

Ah, "definitive answers," yes, those would be nice, until then, there's "just" our gut and our love to get us through.

I'm coming to Iowa this summer, Hope! Can't wait to roll up my sleeves and learn from you!

Hope Edelman said...

Jenna, very nice to meet you here! And Carrie--that's fantastic that you'll be in Iowa this summer. Can't wait for that! Will you come over for dinner one night?

Just One Foot said...

I am so thrilled to have found you again. I too have been nurtured for years by your Motherless Daughters book. It came out the week my mother died and my sister handed it to me as she said, "I'm hoping this will save us some therapy bills..."
We were early twenties, she had just turned 50.
Of course my bookshelf also holds the Letters from Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers. I look forward to reading the book about your daughter's journey. I know I'll love it.
I have written a memoir and had no idea you teach a memoir class. Mine is about my decision to have my leg amputated at age 36, so I could have a better life with a titanium leg. It's a 'finished work in progress', trying to get my story down in the most meaningful and truthful way possible.
Just today I wrote an essay about fearing the age that my own mother died, and gave credit to your book. I started digging around online to find an email address so I could send you a copy and instead found this wonderful new blog. A fun gift on a Friday night.
Thanks again for all of your honest writing. We all find our journey in our own way and do no good in judging another's path.


Unknown said...

This got me intrigued! Did you write more about your daughter and those voices on another post? I wonder what she was hearing and what kind of journey was it that you mentioned and how it helped. I'm glad she's better now!