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Feb. 23 2010 - 9:28 am | 196 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

How one schizophrenic perceived the voices in his head

Here’s an interesting article from More Intelligent Life, a lifestyle magazine published by The Economist. The author is one John Sterns, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He describes his symptoms as follows:

I hear voices (“auditory hallucinations”, technically). They come from all directions and fill my mind with hateful, self-destructive demands. One comes from above the crown of my head and commands, “You must die”. Another rests on my left shoulder and says, “You should be dead”. A third whispers insidiously into my left ear, “Kill yourself”.

But the most persistent and long-standing of my voices, which began when I was eight years old, pounds on my left shoulder like a jackhammer, repeating, “I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself.” It never ends. My response to this particular voice was to develop a permanent cringe in my right shoulder. I am now spending thousands of dollars to correct compressed discs in my neck that have caused me chronic pain for nearly 30 years.

I don’t know if this article is about the same John Sterns, but I’m guessing these are his blog and his Twitter feed.


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    I'm a freelance journalist, and Middle Tennessee is my oyster. You may have seen my name on ScientificAmerican.com, where for two years I covered physics, space and the kitchen sink. Then I wrote a book called Instant Egghead Guide: The Universe. These days I'm into more earthly fare: mental health, chronic disease and social psychology. Working Dogma will be my way of getting up to speed on those subjects, which should keep me nice and busy. I'll do my best to make it entertaining.

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