You’re the Voice

A study into the voices people who have schizophrenia hear, and their connection to their culture.

Here’s a particularly interesting finding:

In Accra, Ghana, where the culture accepts that disembodied spirits can talk, few subjects described voices in brain disease terms. When people talked about their voices, 10 of them called the experience predominantly positive; 16 of them reported hearing God audibly. “‘Mostly, the voices are good,'” one participant remarked.

And in contrasting how the Americans in the study characterized the voices as a threat to and intrusion into their private world:

However, in India and Africa, the subjects were not as troubled by the voices – they seemed on one level to make sense in a more relational world. Still, differences existed between the participants in India and Africa; the former’s voice-hearing experience emphasized playfulness and sex, whereas the latter more often involved the voice of God.

The religiosity or urban nature of the culture did not seem to be a factor in how the voices were viewed, Luhrmann said.

“Instead, the difference seems to be that the Chennai (India) and Accra (Ghana) participants were more comfortable interpreting their voices as relationships and not as the sign of a violated mind,” the researchers wrote.

Finally, the group intends to do a larger study:

“Our hunch is that the way people think about thinking changes the way they pay attention to the unusual experiences associated with sleep and awareness, and that as a result, people will have different spiritual experiences, as well as different patterns of psychiatric experience,” she said, noting a plan to conduct a larger, systematic comparison of spiritual, psychiatric and thought process experiences in five countries.

First up I’ll state that I don’t believe that all people who claim god talks to them have schizophrenia. But being an atheist I think that when god talks to someone, it is actually the person themselves having a conversation in their own head, and they just believe that the voice is from another. If triangles had a god, he would have three sides, and all that. So I am interested in what the voice is that people hear.

When god talks to you, does god speak in a male or female voice, or some other type such as a robotic or asexual sounding voice?

Is the voice adult or childlike?

Does god ever use words that you need to look up in a dictionary?

Does god ever need to repeat himself?

Does god use filler words (well…, um…)?

Does god use light cuss words such as “damn”?

Does god use slang or idioms?

Does god use commonly understood words or expressions borrowed from another language such as carpe diem?

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