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A Voice in My Head

Asked by on with 1 answer:

I hear a voice in my head. She sounds sort of like me but different in a way that I can’t describe. I have been hearing her for a while now. There was no defining moment of when it happened. It just slowly happened and slowly became more frequent. I was diagnosed with depression a few years back but other than that I have not been tested for or diagnosed with anything else. The voice sometimes mumbles and I struggle to hear her but she speaks more clearly if I focus. She says horrible negative things about me and to me, often reminding me of my failures and often telling me that people’s lives would be better without me in their lives.
She has once or twice encouraged me to harm myself. She often tells me that I am not good enough. The more I try to keep her quiet, the louder she gets.

I feel like I am going crazy. I am scared to go to a psychologist because I am scared that they will put me into a mental home or something like that. I don’t want people to think that I am crazy but I feel like I am losing control of my own thoughts. I am scared to tell anyone about this because I don’t want my family and friends to view me as a crazy person or see me any differently. I would just like to know if this is at all normal? Or if there is a possibility of a more serious mental illness? Please help me.

Thank you (From South Africa)

A Voice in My Head

Answered by on -

A.

It has taken a great deal of courage and persistence for you to show your bravery is writing this email. As a young adult, it can feel very scary to have thoughts that you feel you cannot control. But there are several things I would consider about this voice.

First, the voice is not without reaction. You say that “The more I try to keep her quiet, the louder she gets.” This gives us the first clue that this voice is changeable. If it gets worse it means it can get better. It sounds like a direct attack on it causes it to fight back with even more intensity. If it isn’t a constant and can be ruffled the work is on finding out what would diminish it. The very fact that it bothers you when it says something negative means that the very rational and conscious part of you is aware that this voice isn’t okay and needs to be dealt with.

Much the same way you would go to a physician if you had a pain in your side, you would go to a psychologist because this voice has become a pain. Psychologists are trained to look at and understand problems. Some psychologists are even more specifically trained to help change the way we talk to ourselves. This is the type I would recommend. They specialize in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT.)

A CBT therapist will help you to understand the pattern of these negative thoughts and see them as thinking traps that can be dealt with by challenging the thoughts.At its core CBT is aimed at changing the patterns of thinking and behavior that are causing the difficulties. By changing the attitudes, behaviors, and thoughts it relieves the emotional problems caused by these unhealthy patterns.

You are very brave to have sent this email. Now it is time to take the next step. A CBT psychologist is trained to help you deal with these thoughts and I would strongly suggest you talk to one so you can begin to feel better.

You can learn more about CBT in this in-depth blog by Dr. Ben Martin here at PsychCentral.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

A Voice in My Head

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). A Voice in My Head. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/11/22/a-voice-in-my-head/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 Nov 2019 (Originally: 22 Nov 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 18 Nov 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.