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Intrusive thoughts vs. hearing voices


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#1 dragonfli

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 02:37 PM

I am BP, but I thought this might be better suited for this forum?

I have for awhile now dealt with intrusive throughts - distressing thoughts that often suggest things like SI, but they are without a doubt *my* thoughts, even if I don't like or want them.

I'm wondering how one tells the difference between an intrusive thought and hearing voices (internally, not externally) .... does it sound, literally, like another person in your head telling you what to do? Do you just know that this isn't "you"? I feel like I'm not making much sense ... having a hard time describing what I mean.

If this makes sense and anyone can share their experience, I would appreicate it.

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#2 Wooster

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 04:34 PM

I'm wondering how one tells the difference between an intrusive thought and hearing voices (internally, not externally) ....


As always, I'm sure it varies greatly from person to person.
When I get under-slept and over-stressed, I have both experiences of intrusive thoughts (as well as body sensations and other memories eyuck), as well as not sharing parts of reality with people around me, including hearing voices inside and outside my head, and also other auditory hallucinations (we've decided to best call them partial flashbacks).

For me intrusive thought are more self-driven and obsessive/compulsive in nature, where as hearing internal voices sounds more like being in a crowded dining room, say like at summer camp or a middle school lunch room, and out of the din of voices, some emerge into my consciousness more--like when you hear someone speak your name across a crowded room (aka the cocktail party effect). I can also usually tell the difference because I don't very often think in words--more often in images and sensations. If it's clear statements, then it tends to be auditory hallucination/hearing voices.

For me it's very much NOT my own voice when it's hearing voices. For intrusive thoughts, it tends to be more in my own voice.

hope that helps, and as always, its different for different people.

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#3 inspaces

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 06:05 PM

i more or less have both, being DID...

intrusive thoughts sound like a voice in my head that isnt my own.. demands to SI, coxing to drink, suggestions to do stuff i would never ordinarily do

I talk back ;) sometimes nicely and with comfort and sometimes.... "NO not doing that!!"

either way, they are coming from one source, one body

intrusive thoughts are cunning and suggestive and can really make a person think its something good to do when clearly they are not. It's easier to talk myself off the ledge, when I acknowledge that they are just thoughts/voices whatever and not something that i would actually act upon.

just a little while ago, i took a klonopin (having a nasty day today) and the intrusive thoughts were really trying to get to buy into the idea of taking a handful, not just one.

so i talk back, nope can't do that, have to pick up the kid from school soon.

hope this makes sense... all this internal discussion

#4 DarkendHour

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 08:15 AM

Intrusive thoughts for me are just that... thoughts. But I can't control them or make my mind go else where. So its me thinking... the same thing(s) over and over... varied situations of each thought.... kinda like one of those pick your own adventure books but you have no choice but to keep reading it over and over and over again.

Voices are not mine..... The are outside of my head (well in my head but I hear them outside... if that makes any sense). It can be one talking to me ie telling me what to do or commenting on what I'm doing.... Or there can be more than one and they are talking to eachother but I can't understand what they are saying.. like in a busy room.
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#5 untraceable

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 09:22 PM

I have OCD so I have my fair share of intrusive thoughts. As for your questions, having internal voices, yes, you just completely know it isn't you. It is like another person talking to you in your head.
Current meds - Metformin 2000mg, Desoxyn 20mg, Clomipramine 150mg, Clozapine 200mg, Ativan PRN
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Past DXs - OCD, GAD, MDD, Psychosis NOS/schizophreniform/schizophrenia/schizoaffective
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#6 Swamp56

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 12:30 AM

when i hear voices (which is extremely rare) it is an outside party talking to me (from inside or out) and i have no say in what he/she says. as for intrusive thoughts they are triggered by my own thoughts. i never heard intrusive thoughts being an actual voice you hear. from my understanding they are different in a couple of instances.

im a little out of it im sorry if im way off base here...


Basically, this is what happens to me, and how I differentiate them.
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#7 SheilaNZachary

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 08:14 PM

Intrusive thoughts for me are just that... thoughts. But I can't control them or make my mind go else where. So its me thinking... the same thing(s) over and over... varied situations of each thought.... kinda like one of those pick your own adventure books but you have no choice but to keep reading it over and over and over again.


This is exactly how it is for me. I don't hear voices but I get a thought in my head that I cannot shake. I feel compelled to do something wacky, like go to the police and tell them my husband was involved in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

#8 de235388

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:38 PM

Is it possible to have both, intrusive thoughts and hearing voices. I ask because I have paranoid schizophrenia and when I wasn't on meds I would hear people talking about me in my head. Now that I am on meds, when I do hear voices it is the same voices just saying the same words or phrases over and over again. Sometimes I think I scare myself into hearing voices, I will think to myself " I hope I don't start hearing voices again and then I can't stop thinking about hearing voices, I start listening for voices and start hearing those voices in my head again in a loop and I can't stop it, it will go on for hours, usually until I go to sleep, which I have to take meds to do. I feel like I am making myself hear voices, does this make any sense, does anyone else experience this.

#9 melissaw72

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:59 PM

Is it possible to have both, intrusive thoughts and hearing voices. I ask because I have paranoid schizophrenia and when I wasn't on meds I would hear people talking about me in my head. Now that I am on meds, when I do hear voices it is the same voices just saying the same words or phrases over and over again. Sometimes I think I scare myself into hearing voices, I will think to myself " I hope I don't start hearing voices again and then I can't stop thinking about hearing voices, I start listening for voices and start hearing those voices in my head again in a loop and I can't stop it, it will go on for hours, usually until I go to sleep, which I have to take meds to do. I feel like I am making myself hear voices, does this make any sense, does anyone else experience this.


Yes I do. For me it can become OCD at times, when I am constantly trying to bring voices out, or the "people" in my head "talking" to me (actually more like thinking to me). I figure if I cant bring them out anymore (voices and thoughts) then I am doing ok. Havent been there yet though. Sometimes I wont be hearing or thinking anything, and it dawns on me that "no one" is there, and all of a sudden it starts all over. I hear echoes of a lot of the voices, but the stuff said in my head I cant seem to get rid of/make better.

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#10 snugglepuss

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:48 AM

I have intrusive thoughts. I also hear voices. In my head, I've heard the sound of crashing waves, indistinct voices in a crowded room, disembodied voices which sound like they are coming from a person, the radio, etc., and a really soft voice which sounds narrates all my thoughts and sounds like me.

I have found the narrator and intrusive thoughts go hand-in-hand. Often, the narrator speaks the intrusive thoughts. For example, I have the uncontrolled and random thought "This is the voice of God." It sounds like my voice talking to myself and I swear my vocal cords even vibrate. Then I hear a disembodied voice that sounds like a Diana Ross saying, "Wake up." The whole thing surprises me because I did not make the conscious decision to think of Diana Ross as God or that God would want me to wake up. It's like I'm dreaming but I'm awake. It's all out of my control.

Thankfully, I don't have to deal with those symptoms, anymore.
Dx: Bipolar I - mixed w/ psychosis, BPD (which I don't think applies anymore)
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#11 snugglepuss

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:52 AM

Now that I am on meds, when I do hear voices it is the same voices just saying the same words or phrases over and over again. Sometimes I think I scare myself into hearing voices, I will think to myself " I hope I don't start hearing voices again and then I can't stop thinking about hearing voices, I start listening for voices and start hearing those voices in my head again in a loop and I can't stop it, it will go on for hours, usually until I go to sleep, which I have to take meds to do. I feel like I am making myself hear voices, does this make any sense, does anyone else experience this.


I have had this experience, too, but the loop doesn't last longer than a few minutes. When I was really stressed and taking back-to-back calls at a call center, I would hear "customer service" in the headset before each call. Everyone heard the same message.

During my break, I would hear the recording of "customer service" in my head. It was really fast and sounded like, "customer service customer service customer service customer service..." I was terrified it wouldn't stop, but it did.
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#12 confused

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:53 AM

When I hear voices they are external and not my own. I usually hear voices of people I know who are not around. It did take me awhile that some of my delusions of receiving messages were auditory hallucinations too, I remember hearing things in other voices, it just didn't hit me at the time that that's what they were. When I have intrusive thoughts they may be repetitive but it's internal and my voice.

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#13 inthepines

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:55 AM

I thought, but correct me if I'm wrong, that hearing voices was an auditory hallucination so it actually sounds like it's from an external source. I've never experienced this myself so I can't speak from personal experience.

I do however hear my own internal monologue and it sometimes gets very intrusive and intense and does not sound like me in the semantics. I recognise myself as speaking - I just can't control what is being said or the train of thought. Sometimes the nature is disturbing sometimes just annoying. Occasionally soothing. I also hear echoes of fragments of voices and conversations inside my head sometimes when I'm falling asleep - but I understand this is not necessarily MI related. (It's known as hypnagogia or threshold consciousness.)

Interesting thread.,,

Edited by nightbutterfly, 28 August 2012 - 03:03 AM.


#14 melissaw72

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 03:04 AM

I thought, but correct me if I'm wrong, that hearing voices was an auditory hallucination so it actually sounds like it's from an external source. I've never experienced this myself so I can't speak from personal experience.


I think you are right. That is how I would explain it ... IMO hearing voices is outside of your head, while the internal voices are "people" thinking to you, without sound.

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#15 Titania

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 11:02 AM

I hear voices 'inside' my head, they don't come through my ears, but they are out of my range of control and I don't recognize them. They don't have to be auditory to be voices.

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#16 apetasticaL

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 11:38 AM

this is something i was wondering last night. i do have auditory hallucinations but it is usually static, music, bells ringing, crashing noises, but not voices talking to me. but all day yesterday, i heard a man's voice inside my head talking about some scientific stuff, some things about space-time and variables that i don't really understand. but the noise wasn't coming from the outside, it was within my head. so is that "hearing voices"?

Edited by apetasticaL, 28 August 2012 - 02:03 PM.

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#17 confused

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 11:55 AM

this is something i was wondering last night. i do have auditory hallucinations but it is usually static, music, bells ringing, crashing noises, but not voices talking to me. but all day yesterday, i heard a man's voice inside my head talking about some scientific stuff, some things about space-time and variables that i don't really understand. so is that "hearing voices"?


I think so.

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It just may be a lunatic you're looking for

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#18 FireBird

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 01:06 PM

I have things like thought insertion, hearing voices, and intrusive thoughts. I don't have OCD but my dad does along with his autism. There are 3 people in the family that are autistic. Me, my brother (diagnosed this year at 26) and my dad. Thought insertion is someone else talking to me inside my head like the government and alien beings but in thought insertion I don't physically hear it. I have similar people talking to me audibly as well and that is hearing voices. I also have familiar people talking to me audibly. They are my family. I also have this weird guy when I am psychotic named "Random Phrase Guy." He says the most random things in history. The intrusive thoughts are just to me having awful scenarios in my head over and over again that is getting me stressed and depressed. It is things like, "You are going to fail everything and lose your house." It just tells me (the intrusive thoughts are NOT audible at least for me) things that are horrible. Other times I literally have none of these going on. In fact sometimes I have no thoughts at all and other times I have racing thoughts.

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#19 enlightened_plutonian

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 05:02 PM

When I hear voices, they are usually over there somewhere. They are also not my own voice, and the Ringleader is male (I'm female). They can be anything, from having a go at me to telling me to self harm (thankfully these aren't so bad these days) to just saying random words or calling my name. Since going on meds the random words are the most common auditory hallucination for me, and mostly I only get them when I am stressed (along with the visuals).

My thought insertion is thoughts that are in my own voice, but I feel no connection to the thoughts like they are obviously not mine. These will often be either commanding or informing me of certain information (that usually ends up being wrong). I do consider these thoughts to be intrusive. Thankfully they haven't come since going on meds.

Intrusive thoughts that are my own can come when I am feeling low. Over time I have learnt to (just as I do with the thought insertion) just ignore them and let them pass.

Telling myself that I do not have to do anything I don't actually want to helps me deal with all the above. But I'm not saying it is easy.
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#20 konings

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 08:47 AM

Firebird, you made me realise I have intrusive thoughts too. I think about things I have done wrong in the past and things that could go wrong in the future, and the latter isnt useful, because its always something absurd.





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