Auditory hallucination

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An auditory hallucination is the experience of hearing spontaneous imaginary noises.[1] The most common examples of this include hearing clips of sound such as imagined music,[1][2] voices,[1][3][4][5][6][7] tones,[1] popping,[1][8] and scraping,[8] but can also be an infinite variety of other potential noises that are stored within one's memory.

In terms of their behaviour, these sounds will often be based on noises which were expected to occur or have been genuinely heard on a frequent basis within the external environment. For example, a person may repeatedly hear a knock at the door when they are expecting a visitor or may hear music which they were listening to earlier on in the day. However, at other times, auditory hallucinations may also present themselves as consisting of completely novel and alien sounds that are unlike anything which could currently occur within the external environment.

Auditory hallucinations are often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as auditory distortions[5][6][7] and auditory acuity enhancement.[1][4] They are most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds,[9] such as psychedelics, deliriants, and dissociatives. However, they can also occur less commonly under the influence of stimulant psychosis, cannabinoids, and during sleep deprivation.[10][11]

This effect can be broken into specific sub-types which are described and documented below:

Autonomous voice communication

Autonomous voice communication (also known as auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs))[12] is defined as the experience of being able to hear and converse with a disembodied and audible voice of unknown origin which seemingly resides within one's own head.[13][14][15][16] This voice is often capable of high levels of complex and detailed speech which are typically on par with the intelligence and vocabulary of ones own conversational abilities.

As a whole, the effect itself can be broken down into 5 distinct levels of progressive intensity, each of which are described below:

  1. A sensed presence of the other - The distinctive feeling that another form of consciousness is internally present alongside that of one's usual sense of self. This sensation is often referred to within the scientific literature as a "sense of presence".[14][17][18][19]
  2. Mutually generated internal responses - Internally felt conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are partially generated by one's own thought stream and in equal measure by that of a separate thought stream.[20]
  3. Separately generated internal responses - Internally felt conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are generated by an entirely distinct and separate thought stream that resides within one's head.[12][14][20]
  4. Separately generated audible internal responses - Internally heard conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which are perceived as a clearly defined and audible voice within one's head. These can take on a variety of voices, accents, and dialects, but usually sound identical to one's own spoken voice.[13][20]
  5. Separately generated audible external responses - Externally heard conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which are perceived as a clearly defined and audible voice which sounds as if it is coming from outside one's own head. These can take on a variety of voices, accents, and dialects, but usually sound identical to the person's own spoken voice.[13][14][20]

The speaker behind this voice is commonly interpreted by those who experience it to be the voice of their own subconscious, the psychoactive substance itself, a specific autonomous entity, or even supernatural concepts such as god, spirits, souls, and ancestors.

At higher levels, the conversational style of that which is discussed between both the voice and its host can be described as essentially identical in terms of its coherency and linguistic intelligibility as that of any other everyday interaction between the self and another human being of any age with which one might engage in conversation with. Higher levels may also manifest itself in multiple voices or even an ambiguous collection of voices such as a crowd.[14]

However, there are some subtle but identifiable differences between this experience and that of normal everyday conversations. These stem from the fact that one's specific set of knowledge, memories and experiences are identical to that of the voice which is being communicated with.[14][16] This results in conversations in which both participants often share an identical vocabulary down to the very use of their colloquial slang and subtle mannerisms. As a result of this, no matter how in-depth and detailed the discussion becomes, no entirely new information is ever exchanged between the two communicators. Instead, the discussion focuses primarily on building upon old ideas and discussing new opinions or perspectives regarding the previously established content of one's life.

Autonomous voice communication is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as delusions, autonomous entities, auditory hallucinations, and psychosis in a manner which can sometimes lead the person into believing the voices' statements unquestionably in a delusional manner. It is most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds such as psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. However, it may also occur during the offset of prolonged stimulant binges and less consistently under the influence of heavy dosages of cannabinoids.

External auditory hallucination

An external auditory hallucination can be described as the perception of a hallucinated noise that occurs seamlessly within the external environment as if the specific location of its source has a particular sense of direction and distance attributed to it. This is in stark contrast to internal auditory hallucinations that sound as if they occur exclusively within one's own head.

Internal auditory hallucination

An internal auditory hallucination can be described as the perception of hallucinated audio that sounds as if the specific location of its source does not have a particular sense of distance or direction attributed to it and that the sound is instead occurring within a person's own head. This is in contrast to external auditory hallucinations, which sound as if they are occurring seamlessly within the external environment as if they were actually happening.

The experience of this effect can be broken down into three distinct levels of intensity. These are described and documented below:

  1. Fleeting hallucinations - At the lowest level, internal auditory hallucinations generally consist of ill-defined, distant, and subtle sounds that stop as soon the person notices them. For example, a person may hear vague voices, music, and tones within their own head but find that they are not remotely discernable in terms of their given details.
  2. Partially defined hallucinations - At this level, the hallucinations can be directly noticed without them immediately stopping, but are not fully defined in terms their detail. This means that, although fully audible, they will still sound partially muffled and distant. For example, a person may hear voices or music within their own head but find that they do not sound quite as crisp and detailed as similar sounds which can be heard in real life.
  3. Fully defined hallucinations - At this level, the hallucinations have become completely realistic and lifelike in terms of the detail of their sound. For example, a person may hear fully defined voices, music, or other sounds within their own head that are complex and fully defined in terms of their details.

This effect is capable of manifesting itself across the 4 different levels of intensity described below:

  1. Partially defined embedded hallucinations - At the lowest level, the hallucinated sounds lack clarity and may be indistinct, muffled, and difficult to make out. They are also only heard embedded within real sounds occurring within the external environment. For example, a person may hear subtle music or voices embedded within the sound of the wind, cars, and rain. These hallucinations sound as if they are coming from an unspecifiable direction somewhere within the external environment.
  2. Partially defined separate hallucinations - At this level, the sounds remain only partially defined, but are heard on a separate layer of their own instead of only manifesting themselves as embedded within other noises. They will also begin to sound as if they are occurring from a vaguely specifiable direction or source within the external environment.
  3. Fully defined separate hallucinations - At this level, the sounds become fully defined in their clarity, meaning that the content of the hallucinations can be recognized and heard perfectly as if they were actually occurring. They will also sound as if they originate from a specific location within the external environment in a manner which is so lifelike that it will often confuse the person into believing it was a real sound.

Psychoactive substances

Compounds within our psychoactive substance index which may cause this effect include:

... further results

Experience reports

Anecdotal reports which describe this effect within our experience index include:

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Weinel, J. (3 March 2016). "Entoptic Phenomena in Audio : Categories of Psychedelic Electroacoustic Composition". Contemporary Music Review. 35 (2): 202–223. doi:10.1080/07494467.2016.1221633. ISSN 0749-4467. 
  2. Evers, S., Ellger, T. (15 December 2004). "The clinical spectrum of musical hallucinations". Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 227 (1): 55–65. doi:10.1016/j.jns.2004.08.004. ISSN 0022-510X. 
  3. Chadwick, P., Birchwood, M. (February 1994). "The Omnipotence of Voices: A Cognitive Approach to Auditory Hallucinations". The British Journal of Psychiatry. 164 (2): 190–201. doi:10.1192/bjp.164.2.190. ISSN 0007-1250. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Juszczak, G. R., Swiergiel, A. H. (1 January 2013). "Recreational Use of D-Lysergamide from the Seeds of Argyreia Nervosa , Ipomoea Tricolor, Ipomoea Violacea, and Ipomoea Purpurea in Poland". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 45 (1): 79–93. doi:10.1080/02791072.2013.763570. ISSN 0279-1072. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Carbonaro, T. M., Forster, M. J., Gatch, M. B. (March 2013). "Discriminative stimulus effects of N,N-diisopropyltryptamine". Psychopharmacology. 226 (2): 241–246. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2891-x. ISSN 0033-3158. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Shulgin, A. T., Carter, M. F. (1980). "N, N-Diisopropyltryptamine (DIPT) and 5-methoxy-N,N-diisopropyltryptamine (5-MeO-DIPT). Two orally active tryptamine analogs with CNS activity". Communications in Psychopharmacology. 4 (5): 363–369. ISSN 0145-5699. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Shulgin, A., Shulgin, A. (1997). TIHKAL: The Continuation. Transform Press. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 N. Stanciu, C., M. Penders, T. (1 June 2016). "Hallucinogen Persistent Perception Disorder Induced by New Psychoactive Substituted Phenethylamines; A Review with Illustrative Case". Current Psychiatry Reviews. 12 (2): 221–223. 
  9. Al-Assmar, S. E. (27 September 1999). "The Seeds of the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Are a Powerful Hallucinogen". Archives of Internal Medicine. 159 (17): 2090. ISSN 0003-9926. 
  10. Nichols, D. E. (1 April 2016). Barker, E. L., ed. "Psychedelics". Pharmacological Reviews. 68 (2): 264–355. doi:10.1124/pr.115.011478. ISSN 0031-6997. 
  11. Lu, B. Y., Woofter, C., Escalona, R. (October 2004). "A case of prolonged peyote-induced psychosis resolved by sleep". The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 65 (10): 1433–1434. doi:10.4088/jcp.v65n1020e. ISSN 0160-6689. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Toh, Wei Lin; Castle, David J.; Thomas, Neil; Badcock, Johanna C.; Rossell, Susan L. (2016). "Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) and related psychotic phenomena in mood disorders: analysis of the 2010 Survey of High Impact Psychosis (SHIP) data". Psychiatry Research. 243: 238–245. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2016.06.035. ISSN 0165-1781. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Moseley, Peter; Fernyhough, Charles; Ellison, Amanda (2013). "Auditory verbal hallucinations as atypical inner speech monitoring, and the potential of neurostimulation as a treatment option". Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 37 (10): 2794–2805. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.10.001. ISSN 0149-7634. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Woods, Angela; Jones, Nev; Alderson-Day, Ben; Callard, Felicity; Fernyhough, Charles (2015). "Experiences of hearing voices: analysis of a novel phenomenological survey". The Lancet Psychiatry. 2 (4): 323–331. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00006-1. ISSN 2215-0366. 
  15. Romme, M. A. J.; Honig, A.; Noorthoorn, E. O.; Escher, A. D. M. A. C. (2018). "Coping with Hearing Voices: An Emancipatory Approach". British Journal of Psychiatry. 161 (01): 99–103. doi:10.1192/bjp.161.1.99. ISSN 0007-1250. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Corstens, Dirk; Longden, Eleanor; McCarthy-Jones, Simon; Waddingham, Rachel; Thomas, Neil (2014). "Emerging Perspectives From the Hearing Voices Movement: Implications for Research and Practice". Schizophrenia Bulletin. 40 (Suppl_4): S285–S294. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbu007. ISSN 1745-1701. 
  17. Fenelon, G.; Soulas, T.; de Langavant, L. C.; Trinkler, I.; Bachoud-Levi, A.-C. (2011). "Feeling of presence in Parkinson's disease". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 82 (11): 1219–1224. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2010.234799. ISSN 0022-3050. 
  18. Hayes, Jacqueline; Leudar, Ivan (2016). "Experiences of continued presence: On the practical consequences of 'hallucinations' in bereavement". Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. 89 (2): 194–210. doi:10.1111/papt.12067. ISSN 1476-0835. 
  19. SherMer, M. (2010). The Sensed-Presence Effect. Scientific American, 302(4), 34.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Looijestijn, Jasper; Diederen, Kelly M.J.; Goekoop, Rutger; Sommer, Iris E.C.; Daalman, Kirstin; Kahn, René S.; Hoek, Hans W.; Blom, Jan Dirk (2013). "The auditory dorsal stream plays a crucial role in projecting hallucinated voices into external space". Schizophrenia Research. 146 (1-3): 314–319. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2013.02.004. ISSN 0920-9964.