Hallucinations in Normals

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's second hypothesis - the bicameral mind, specifically the subtopic of auditory hallucinations in the normal population.
Post Reply
Site Admin
Posts: 351
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2005 1:03 pm

Hallucinations in Normals

Post by Moderator »

One criticism of Jaynes’s theory (see Stove – “Oracles and Their Cessation” and Dennett – “Jaynes's Software Archeology”) is that if Jaynes is correct, hallucinations ought to be more common in the normal population. Recent studies, however, show that hallucinations are far more common in the normal population that previously believed, providing supporting evidence for the bicameral mind.

See, for example, the studies cited here: Studies on Hallucinations in Normals and Romme & Escher’s book Making Sense of Voices: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals Working with Voice-hearers, with the brief description: “The recognition that people in the general population hear voices is at the foundation of Romme and Escher's work. They are leaders in setting an understanding of voices in a mental health context within this wider framework, with the important consequences of understanding that hearing voices is not by itself a problem or a symptom of mental illness.”

I have personally had many “normal,” non-mentally ill people confide their hallucinatory experiences to me over the years. I thought it might be interesting for people to share their personal hallucinatory experiences here, or discuss new studies on hallucinations in normals and in children that they come across.
Last edited by Moderator on Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 10:11 pm
Location: Williamstown, MA

Post by diogenes »

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "hallucination".

I was in a great hurry, and I stopped at a red light. Suddenly I "saw" the light change to green, but the cars kept coming from the side. After blowing my horn and trying to get into traffic, I "gave up" to wait for the people who were "running the red light" on the side to come to their senses. When I again looked at the light, I saw that it was still red. In my desire for the light to change, my brain "projected" what I wanted to see, a green light. This experience has stuck with me, and reminds me that "it's not that seeing as believing, believing is seeing, and we're much better at believing than at seeing". http://www.xenodochy.org/ex/quotes/santayana.html

In general semantics we describe the brain as an organ that "locates its experiences elsewhere" - it "projects" what is going on inside the brain as happening "outside" the brain; the electro-chemical patterns happening "in here" are perceived as happing "out there" to varying degrees. Smell is "in here"; touch is "just here" (but outside the brain); sound is from "near to far"; but sight is "way out there". As this "projection" is the normal mode of conscious awareness, the experiencing of projections that have less immediate cause in direct incoming sensory processes should be no surprise. I suspect our culture imposes a very strong prohibition on reporting such experiences, as they are strongly associated with abnormal judgements.
Last edited by diogenes on Mon Feb 28, 2005 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.
It's not that seeing is believing, believing is seeing,
and we're much better at believing than we are at seeing.
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 4:01 pm
Location: Wimbledon

Post by Soupdragon »

diogenes wrote:I suspect our culture imposes a very strong prohibition on reporting such experiences, as they are strongly associated with abnormal judgements.
I strongly agree.

To some extent I suspect that schizophrenia may arise from a social anxiety that makes us fearful of voices or hallucinations. Perhaps they can only be suppressed for so long...
Dr. Bob
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 7:57 pm
Location: Oregon State University

Hallucinating smell

Post by Dr. Bob »

Last weekend I was talking to my sister about our old neighborhood in NYC and she mentioned the shoe maker around the corner. Wow! I immediately smelled the leather. I really and truly smelled the leather!

So what's my explanation of this hallucination? It was a totally top-down experience driven by memory and stimulating the same olfactory cells that had been stimulated about fifty years ago by bottom-up processes. The experience was triggered by long-term memory. My brain remembered what my conscious self forgot.
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2006 2:46 pm

Listening to Voices Within

Post by judydurand »

Hello, I am brand new to this site.

I am currently reading The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Wow, I was so excited about Julian's writings that I went to the web to look up further books and found this site.

I must admit that when I first started reading his book, I thought maybe I suffer from mental illness as I receive inner guidance a lot.

It was this voice that called out to me to read Julian's book which had sat for over 20 years on my shelf.

An inner voice prompted a move from Southern California to Australia 28 years ago and was guided to our dream property and community. I appear "normal," been married for 32 years, have 3 children (28 yrs., 25 yrs. & 17 yrs.) have run a small business for over 30 years. I also communicate with some animals and usually always have contact with friends or family that have "crossed over."

Looking forward to future discussions.
Judy Durand
Post Reply

Return to “2.1. Hypothesis Two: The Bicameral Mind | Subtopic: Auditory Hallucinations in Normal Adults”