A new study looks at why mysterious voices are sometimes taken as spirits and other times as symptoms of mental health issues.
- Both spiritualist mediums and schizophrenics hear voices.
- For the former, this constitutes a gift; for the latter, mental illness.
- A study explores what the two phenomena have in common.
The study<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ5Nzc1OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTU1ODQwOX0.wlQLO9cjh2hFAz9BXwf2DpaqwepAlybru_OH6J4ZwzI/img.jpg?width=2000&coordinates=64%2C74%2C64%2C74&height=1500" id="1156f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6f17461592da75794c7c53dab73bdfed" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2000" data-height="1500" />
Credit: Camila Quintero Franco/Unsplash<p>The researchers, led by <a href="https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/directory/staff/?mode=staff&id=15156" target="_blank">Adam Powell</a> of Durham University's Hearing the Voice project and Department of Theology and Religion, conducted online surveys of 65 clairaudient mediums they found through contact with spiritualist communities. The survey also included 143 people from the general population who responded in the affirmative to the question "Have you ever had an experience you would describe as 'clairaudient?'" posed through an online study recruitment tool.</p><p>All participants spoke English and were aged 18-75. Most (84.4 percent) were from the U.K., with the rest mostly from the North Americas, Europe, or Australasia.</p><p>Of the spiritualists surveyed, 79 percent said hearing voices was a normal part of their lives at church and at home, while 44.6 percent said that they heard voices every day. Most respondents reported the voices as being inside their heads, though 31.7 percent said they came from outside their bodies.</p><p>Not surprisingly, more spiritualists reported believing in the paranormal than did the general population participants. They also cared less about what others thought of them.</p><p>Both groups were prone to visual hallucinations as well.</p>
Youth and absorption<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ5Nzc2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzE3MTUyNn0.BsqsYO4KFNF9RX9O6TXYE14RysJgiwXua7FegMBf8Ss/img.jpg?width=980" id="5fe11" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6fb24471c94f7e69617c763927c1dc0e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="1080" />
Credit: Tanner Boriack/Unsplash<p>Spiritualist clairaudients reported their first experiences with other voices early in life. Of these participants, 18 percent said they had heard voices for as long as they remembered. The average age, however, for first hearing voices was 21.7 years. Schizophrenia typically presents when a person is somewhat older than this, in the <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354483" target="_blank">late 20s</a>.</p><p>Significantly, 71 percent said their experience with voices pre-dated their awareness of spiritualism. Rather than religion prompting the hearing of voices, it seems that it's more the other way around — voices led them to religion.</p><p>Says Powell, "Our findings say a lot about 'learning and yearning.' For our participants, the tenets of spiritualism seem to make sense of both extraordinary childhood experiences as well as the frequent auditory phenomena they experience as practicing mediums."</p><p>Still, the voices came first he says, so "all of those experiences may result more from having certain tendencies or early abilities than from simply believing in the possibility of contacting the dead if one tries hard enough."</p><p>The more likely factor is spiritualist clairaudients' relationship with absorption. Responses to questions based on the 34-point <a href="https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~jfkihlstrom/TAS.htm" target="_blank">Tellegen Absorption Scale</a> revealed that these people tended toward absorptive personality characteristics. These are described by the study's authors as "being readily captured by entrancing stimuli, reporting vivid mental imagery, becoming immersed in one's own thoughts."</p><p>Some, though not all, voice-hearing individuals from the general population were found to exhibit high levels of absorption — those that did were more likely to believe in the paranormal than others.</p>
Implications<p>The study's finding regarding the relative young ages at which spiritualist clairaudients begin hearing voices suggests that these individuals' more welcoming attitude toward the phenomenon may have to do with malleability of youth — a belief in the fantastical is part of being young.</p><p>"Spiritualists tend to report unusual auditory experiences which are positive, start early in life and which they are often then able to control," says co-author <a href="https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-staff/m/peter-moseley/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Peter Moseley</a> of Northumbria University. "Understanding how these develop is important because it could help us understand more about distressing or non-controllable experiences of hearing voices too."</p><p>The authors of the study do note, however, that their findings leave two big unanswered questions: Does a tendency toward absorption reveal "a predisposition to having RSEs or a belief in the plausibility of having RSEs?"</p><p>The other obvious big question? It's beyond the scope of this survey, but are those really the voices of the dead?</p>
The top-grossing language-learning app on the market just got a major discount.
- After just one month of learning, many Babbel users became conversational in a new language.
- A lifetime subscription to Babbel provides users with the ability to learn 14 different languages whenever they want.
- Babbel is the top-grossing language-learning app on the market.
Distancing doesn't have to mean distant.
The ability to speak up and ask will give these future leaders a much needed boost.
- As the head of an all-girls school in Pennsylvania, Marisa Porges has dedicated her life to educating young women and preparing them for the future.
- Two things that parents can do at home to build confidence and nurture girls' ability to speak up according to Porges are to have them practice ordering for the family, and to encourage them to develop a pitch when making a request. Providing feedback on the pitch becomes more meaningful and memorable than simply saying yes or no.
- While this advice is great for parents of boys and girls, it is especially important for parents of young women. A recent study showed that 75 percent of high-performing women executives say they have felt imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. The ability to speak up, ask for what they want, and to use their voices confidently will be valuable skills for these future entrepreneurs and CEOs.
Lack of communication and collaboration are the biggest struggles facing remote workers.
When did you last pick up the phone to a coworker or friend instead of firing off an email or text message?
Image: Buffer<h3>COVID-19 is changing how we work</h3><p>In May, 42% of Americans aged 20-64 earning more than $20,000 were working from home full-time, according to a <a href="https://siepr.stanford.edu/research/publications/how-working-home-works-out" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Stanford University survey</a> – compared to just 2% working full-time from home before the pandemic.</p><p>And many want to keep working from home. An Adecco survey of 8,000 workers and leaders in eight countries found <a href="https://www.adeccogroup.com/futuhreinsight/we-asked-8000-people-how-they-want-to-work-post-covid-19-here-are-5-things-they-told-us-that-will-likely-change-the-world-of-work-forever/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">three out of four employees preferred more flexibility and a hybrid</a> approach to working - part at home and part at the office.</p><p>But lack of communication and collaboration - and loneliness - were reported as the biggest struggles of remote workers in <a href="https://lp.buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2020" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Buffer's 2020 State of Remote Work</a> survey (based on 2019 data).</p><p>The World Economic Forum's virtual<a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/the-jobs-reset-summit-2020" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Jobs Reset Summit</a> is discussing the creation of new jobs and new standards in digital, on-site and hybrid workplaces, as well as the safety nets needed for the employees of the future.</p><p>As working from home continues, encouraging employees to adopt good habits in connecting and communicating in person with others could improve both well-being and productivity.</p><p>Reprinted with permission of the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Economic Forum</a>. Read the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/10/mental-health-remote-working-conversations-virtual/" target="_blank">original article</a>.</p>