An international study led by The University of Queensland and Harvard Medical School found that hearing voices and seeing things others cannot impacts about 5 percent of the general population at some point in their lives.
“We used to think that only people with psychosis heard voices or had delusions, but now we know that otherwise healthy, high-functioning people also report these experiences,” Professor McGrath said.
“Of those who have these experiences, a third only have them once and another third only have two-to-five episodes across their life. These people seem to function reasonably well.
“So it’s incredibly interesting that not only is hearing voices more common than previously thought, but it’s not always linked to serious mental illness.”
5% actually seems low, but the researchers note that misperceptions, such as thinking you hear your name called, is common but different than the more detailed hallucinations that are the focus of this study. Not all people who experience such detailed events on occasion have mental health issues.
An important consideration when examining extraordinary claims is to realize that there is a range of perception for people. We often misperceive things or, this study shows, we could be hallucinating in some cases. It does not mean the person is “crazy” but that our brains sometimes trip up a bit. It’s important to get this message across as a reasonable option to take into account when thinking about supernatural events.
Tip: Ron Pine