While I think we’ve come a long way in terms of the stigma attached to brain disorders, we still have so far to go. Case in point: How many of us would actually admit to hearing voices? My guess is not too many. What would others think?
The truth, however, is that it is not uncommon for people to have this experience at one time or another. Heard someone call your name, but nobody is around? Maybe you’ve heard the voice of a loved one who has died? There have certainly been a few times in my life where I’ve heard voices that aren’t there and have attributed it to my mind “playing tricks on me” (whatever that actually means).
So here’s a question. Do people with obsessive-compulsive disorder hear voices more than those who don’t have OCD? Judging by some past conversations I’ve had with my son Dan, you might think so:
“Dan, is that what you really want to do, or is it your OCD talking?”
“It’s my OCD talking.”
“My OCD insists I do this.”
“I really don’t want to listen to my OCD.”
Was Dan actually hearing voices? In his case, as far as I understand, the answer is, “No.” He, like many of those with OCD, was referring to what is often described as an internal voice, a constant nagging one that gives orders — a bully who assures the person with OCD of impending doom if certain compulsions aren’t carried out. I think many of us without OCD can relate somewhat to this internal voice. I know I can. The voice in my head is always asking “What if?”