Hearing Voices? You are definitely not alone! Hear the stories of many celebrities and famous people who find this a positive experience.
Famous People Who Hear Voices
Anthony Hopkins Actor
In 1993, in an interview in the News of the World, the Hollywood actor Anthony Hopkins made a remarkable admission, he claimed he heard strange voices in his head,
“I’ve always had a little voice in my head, particularly when I was younger and less assured”, he said. “While onstage, during classical theatre the voice would suddenly say, “Oh, you think you can do Shakespeare, do you?” and he added; “Recently, I was being interviewed on television and the voice inside my head said to me, “Who the hell do you think you are. You’re just an actor, what the hell do you know about anything”.
Anthony Hopkins locates the root of his voice hearing experience in the insecurity he felt as a child, he says
I’ve always had a little voice in my head pulling me down, particularly when I was younger and less grounded…My school days were not always happy and I wanted to get away from Wales and be someone else. I was stupid at school, I just didn’t know what was going on. I thought I was on Mars, I didn’t know what they were talking about.
Many voice hearers share this description of the trigger for the voice experience and a recent survey showed that Hopkins is by no means alone. Social circumstances are related to the onset of the voices and examples of this include unbearable living situations, recent or childhood traumas, conflicts between the ideal and reality of people’s lives and the person’s overall emotional development.
Brian Wilson Musician Beach Boys
(Extract from transcript of interview on Larry king Show, 20/08/2004 with Brian and Melinda Wilson )
M. WILSON: Because all of the sudden – I mean, you’re normal and all of the sudden you start hearing voices in your head and things start happening to you that you don’t know whether to tell people or – I think with Brian he went a long time without discussing it with…
KING: Why not?
B. WILSON: I was afraid to. I was afraid to.
KING: Yes, I would imagine. I can understand. When you say you heard voices can you describe what that’s like? Because we read stories like that about people who — what happens?
B. WILSON: Well, a voice is saying: “I’m going to hurt you, I’m going to kill you.” And I’d say: “Please don’t kill me.”
KING: It’s an actual voice.
B. WILSON: Actual voice in my head. Yes.
KING: Not your voice?
B. WILSON: No. No.
M. WILSON: That’s called auditory hallucinations and if somebody’s depression is deep enough that’s what happens to them.
KING: And at the same time you’re still writing songs?
B. WILSON: Yes, I could still write songs, yes, during that period.
KING: Right hit songs.
B. WILSON: Yes.
M. WILSON: That’s the thing that’s amazing. Right now when he goes out on tour I can look at him and I say to myself: “Oh my God, I can tell just by his face he’s hearing voices.”
KING: You still hear them.
B. WILSON: Oh yes. I still hear them.
The experiences of Charles Dickens were widely publicised by the author himself.
He used to tell the tale with relish about becoming so involved with his characters that they actually spoke to him, the best known being the disgusting old ‘nurse’ from his novel Martin Chuzzlewit, Mrs Gamp who, he said, would tell him dirty stories in church during Sunday service and make him laugh out loud.
The late Doris Stokes, the renowned English medium heard the voice of what she regarded as her spirit guide, the guide was called Ramonov, a Tibetan monk. At first she didn’t know where he came from until whilst watching a travel film on BBC television, she said “It was all about the Table people. Ramonov said “That’s where I come from. Tibet.”
She first heard the voice of her deceased father when she was 13 years old when she herself met a medium. She always understood her experience to be a spiritual one and became a best selling writer, regularly appeared on TV and had a sell out show at the London Palladium.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, Christian mystic and theologian. Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. At the age of fifty-six he entered into a spiritual phase, in which he experienced dreams and visions. This culminated in a spiritual awakening, where he claimed he was appointed by the Lord to write a heavenly doctrine to reform Christianity. He claimed that the Lord had opened his eyes, so that from then on he could freely visit heaven and hell, and talk with angels, demons, and other spirits. For the remaining 28 years of his life, he wrote and published 18 theological works, of which the best known was Heaven and Hell (1758) , and several unpublished theological works.
Around 1744 he began having strange dreams. Swedenborg carried a travel journal with him on most of his travels, and did so on this journey. The whereabouts of the diary were long unknown, but it was discovered in the Royal Library in the 1850s and published in 1859 as Drömboken, or Journal of Dreams. It provides a first-hand account of the events of the crisis.
He experienced many different dreams and visions, some greatly pleasurable, others highly disturbing. The experiences continued as he travelled to London to continue the publication of Regnum animale. This cathartic process continued for six months. It has been compared to the Catholic concept of Purgatory. Analyses of the diary have concluded that what Swedenborg was recording in his Journal of Dreams was a battle between the love of his self, and the love of God. 
In the last entry of the journal from October 26-27 1744, Swedenborg appears to be clear as to which path to follow. He felt he should drop his current project, and write a new book about the worship of God. He soon began working on De cultu et amore Dei, or The Worship and Love of God. It was never fully completed, but Swedenborg still had it published in London in June 1745.
One explanation why the work was never finished is given in a well known and often referenced story. In April 1745, Swedenborg was dining in a private room at a tavern in London. By the end of the meal, a darkness fell upon his eyes, and the room shifted character. Suddenly he saw a person sitting at a corner of the room, telling Swedenborg: “Do not eat too much!”. Swedenborg, scared, hurried home. Later that night, the same man appeared in his dreams. The man told Swedenborg that He was the Lord, that He had appointed Swedenborg to reveal the spiritual meaning of the Bible, and that He would guide Swedenborg in what to write. The same night, the spiritual world was opened to Swedenborg.
Read a summary of the paper “Talking back to the spirits: the voices and visions of Emanuel Swedenborg” written by Simon R. Jones and Charles Fernyhough, published in the History of the Human Sciences, Vol. 21, No. 1, 1-31 (2008) here
John Forbes Nash “A Beautiful Mind”
On October 11, 1994, John Forbes Nash, Jr. won the Nobel Prize for pioneering work in game theory. Nash was 66 and, for most of his adult life he’d lived with the diagnoseis of paranoid schizophrenia.
Nash began his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1948 – when he was just 20. While he was still only 21, he wrote a 27-page doctoral dissertation on game theory – the mathematics of competition. Nash put a whole new face on competition, and he drew the attention of theoretical economists. They turned game theory into a tool. This young genius brought the field to fruition.
He went on to MIT and for eight years dazzled the mathematical world. He worked in economics. He even invented the game of Hex, marketed by Parker Brothers. He married in 1957. New York Times writer Silvia Nasar tells how “Fortune magazine singled him out in July 1958 as America’s brilliant young star of the ‘new mathematics.’”
Nash engaged in sporadic same-sex relationships throughout his life, despite having married a woman. As a graduate student, in his circle,his homosexuality was mostly accepted,or at least tolerated. However, upon graduation, homosexuality was less accepted in the McCarthy era government department in which he worked; he was fired from the job after being arrested for “indecent acts” in a men’s room at a public park. As an adult,Nash was involved in a serious relationship with a man, which may have contributed to his hesitancy to marry Alicia.
He began hearing voices. He’d once astonished mathematicians with his unlikely results. Now his results stopped making sense, and the dividing line wasn’t clear at first. He began looking for secret messages in numbers. He disappeared for days. He could, in Nasar’s words, “no longer sort and interpret sensations or reason or feel the full range of emotions.”
Throughout his years at Princeton (1945-1949) he believed he had a roommate while records show he lived by himself. He became paranoid and was committed into the McLean Hospital, April-May 1959, where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and mild depression with low self-esteem. After a problematic stay in Paris and Geneva, Nash returned to Princeton in 1960. He remained in and out of mental hospitals until 1970, being given insulin shock therapy and antipsychotic medications, usually as a result of being committed rather than by his choice.
From 1970, by his choice, he never took antipsychotic medication again. According to his biographer Sylvia Nasar, he recovered gradually with the passage of time. Encouraged by his wife Alicia, Nash worked in a communitarian setting where his eccentricities were accepted.
Nash’s “hallucinations” were exclusively auditory, and not both visual and auditory as shown in the film “A Beautiful Mind”. The film also has Nash saying at the time of his Nobel acceptance speech in 1994 “I take the newer medications”, when in fact Nash didn’t take any medication from 1970 onwards.
John Frusciante Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
I had just so many mental problems. It wasn’t until I was 28 that my brain actually felt like a spacious place. When I was 18, 19, 22, my brain was just clogged all the time – non-stop voices. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. There was a lot of confusion inside me, this flood of voices, often contradicting each other, often telling me stuff that would happen in the future, and then it would happen, voices insulting me, telling me what to do.
Joshua Slocum became the first person to circumnavigate the world single handed in 1898 aboard a boat called Spray. He claimed to have been aided by the ghost of Christopher Columbus’s helmsman, who guided him safely through storms and bouts of illness.
Mahatma Gandhi, the man who almost single handedly achieved Indian independence from Britain, relied on an “inner voice” for guidance.
Here Gandhi describes his experiences and beliefs about his voices:
It may be a product of my heated imagination. If it is so, I prize that imagination as it has served me for a chequered life extending over a period of now nearly over fifty-five years, because I learned to rely consciously upon God before I was fifteen years old.
Charitable critics impute no fraud to me, but suggest that I am highly likely to be acting under some hallucination. The result for me, even then, will not be far different from what it would be if I was laying a false claim. A humble seeker that I claim to be has need to be most cautious and, to preserve the balance of mind, he has to reduce himself to zero before God will guide him. Let me not labour this point.
Could I give any further evidence that it was truly the Voice that I heard and that it was not an echo of my own heated imagination? I have no further evidence to convince the skeptic. He is free to say that it was all self-delusion or hallucination. It may well have been so. I can offer no proof to the contrary. But I can say this, that not the unanimous verdict of the whole world against me could shake me from the belief that what I heard was the true Voice of God.
Nobody has to my knowledge questioned the possibility of the inner voice speaking to some, and it is a gain to the world even if one person’s claim to speak under the authority of the inner voice can be really sustained. Many may make the claim, but not all will be able to substantiate it. But it cannot and ought not to be suppressed for the sake of preventing false claimants.
For me the Voice of God, of Conscience, of Truth, or the Inner Voice or ‘the Still Small Voice’ mean one and the same thing. I saw no form. I have never tried, for I have always believed God to be without form. But what I did hear was like a Voice from afar and yet quite near. It was as unmistakable as some human voice definitely speaking to me, and irresistible. I was not dreaming at the time I heard the Voice. The hearing of the Voice was preceded by a terrific struggle within me. Suddenly the Voice came upon me. I listened, made certain it was the Voice, and the struggle ceased. I was calm. The determination was made accordingly, the date and the hour of the fast were fixed…
Toward the end of his life the voice said:
You are on the right track, move neither to your left, nor right, but keep to the straight and narrow
Philip K Dick was an American science fiction writer, who died in 1982. Eight of his stories have been adapted into films to date, including “Blade Runner”, “Total Recall” and “Minority Report”.
“In earlier interviews you have described your encounter, in 1974, with “a transcendentally rational mind.” Does this “tutelary spirit” continue to guide you?
It hasn’t spoken a word to me since I wrote The Divine Invasion. The voice is identified as Ruah, which is the Old Testament word for the Spirit of God. It speaks in a feminine voice and tends to express statements regarding the messianic expectation. It guided me for a while. It has spoken to me sporadically since I was in high school. I expect that if a crisis arises it will say something again. It’s very economical in what it says. It limits itself to a few very terse, sucinct sentences. I only hear the voice of the spirit when I’m falling asleep or waking up. I have to be very receptive to hear it. It sounds as though it’s coming from millions of miles away.
Philip K. Dick’s Final Interview, June 1982, [source: Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 3, June 1982
Robert Alexander Schumann (June 8, 1810 – July 29, 1856) was a German composer and pianist. He was one of the most famous Romantic composers of the nineteenth century, as well as a famous music critic. An intellectual as well as an aesthete, his music reflects the deeply personal nature of Romanticism. Introspective and often whimsical, his early music was an attempt to break with the tradition of classical forms and structure which he thought too restrictive. Little understood in his lifetime, much of his music is now regarded as daringly original in harmony, rhythm and form. He stands in the front rank of German Romantics.
Inspired by E.T.A. Hoffman’s mad fictional musician Kappelmeister Kreisler, Schumann’s “Kreisleriana” was one of many musical works written at the urging of the inner voices that alternatively plagued and blessed him throughout much of his life. As long as his mind remained whole enough to organize what he was “hearing,” these voices brought some of his finest work to him, sometimes fully realized and orchestrated. When his mental state began to disintegrate, however, the ghostly music brought him terrible suffering.
His wife, the pianist Clara Schumann, described a tortuous night :
The night of Friday, the 17th, we had not been long in bed when Robert got up and wrote out a theme that, he said, the angels had sung to him; after doing that, he went back to bed and hallucinated all night long, his eyes open and looking to heaven; he was firmly convinced that angels were hovering over him and disclosing the most wondrous revelations, all expressed in glorious music: they extended us their welcome, and we would both be joined with them before the year was past…Morning came and with it a dreadful change! The angel voices had turned into the voices of demons with horrible music; they told him he was a sinner and they planned to cast him into Hades, in short, his condition increased literally into one of nervous convulsions; he shrieked in pain (as he told me later, it took the form of tigers and hyenas tearing at him and trying to grab him) and the two doctors, who fortunately came in good time, were hardly able to hold him. I’ll never forget this moment, I was suffering the very agonies of torture with him. After about half an hour, he was less agitated and said friendlier voices could now be heard giving him encouragement…
It was at the age of thirteen and a half, in the summer of 1425, that Joan first became conscious her “voices” or her “counsel.” It was at first a voice, as if someone had spoken quite close to her, but it seems also clear that a blaze of light accompanied it, and that later on she clearly discerned in some way the appearance of those who spoke to her, recognizing them individually as St. Michael (who was accompanied by other angels), St. Margaret, St. Catherine, and others. Joan was always reluctant to speak of her voices. She said nothing about them to her confessor, and constantly refused, at her trial, to be inveigled into descriptions of the appearance of the saints and to explain how she recognized them. None the less, she told her judges: “I saw them with these very eyes, as well as I see you.”
In the preface to Bernard Shaw’s play, saint Joan (page 13 14, Penguin Edition) he says of her voices:
Joan’s voices and visions have played many tricks with her reputation. They have been held to prove that she was mad, a liar and impostor, a sorceress (she was burned for this), and finally a saint. They do not prove any of these things; but the variety of the conclusions reached show how little our matter of fact historians know about other people’s minds, or even about their own. There are people in the world whose imagination is so vivid that when they have an idea it comes to them as audible voice, sometimes uttered by a visual figure …
The inspirations and intuitions and unconsciously reasoned conclusions of genius sometimes assume similar illusions. Socrates, Luther, Swedenbourg, Blake saw visions and heard voices just as Saint Francis and saint Joan did…. On the subject of the eleventh horn of the beast seen by the prophet Daniel he was more fantastic than Joan …
Her policy was also quite sound: nobody disputes that the relief of Orleans, followed by the coronation at Rheims of the Dauphin as a counterblow to the suspicions then current of his legitimacy and consequently of his title, were military and political masterpieces that saved France. They might have been planned by Napoleon or any other illusion proof genius. They came to Joan as an instruction from her Counsel, as she called her visionary saints; but she was none the less an able leader of men for imagining her ideas in this way.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis wrote, “
During the days when I was living alone in a foreign city … I quite often heard my name suddenly called by an unmistakable and beloved voice …
Socrates’ reliance on what the Greeks called his “daemonic sign”, an averting (ἀποτρεπτικός) inner voice that Socrates heard only when he was about to make a mistake. It was this sign that prevented Socrates from entering into politics.
In the Phaedrus, we are told Socrates considered this to be a form of “divine madness”, the sort of insanity that is a gift from the gods and gives us poetry, mysticism, love, and even philosophy itself. Alternately, the sign is often taken to be what we would call “intuition”; however, Socrates’ characterization of the phenomenon as “daemonic” suggests that its origin is divine, mysterious, and independent of his own thoughts.
An Islamic Scholar, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, argues that Socrates experienced what can be called a prophetic revelation. He writes in his book, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth, that “Socrates seems to have a very personalized and intense relationship with the Supreme Being. His very personality is built on the pattern of the messengers of God.