Contemporary voice hearers



Many well known artistic, creative and sports people have reported experiencing voices and visions, here are some examples (click on the name for more information):

John Frusciante
Anthony Hopkins
Paul McCartney
Carlos Santana
Doris Stokes
Zoe Wannamaker
Brian Wilson

John Frusciante

John Anthony Frusciante (born March 5, 1970) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, record and film producer. He is best known as the former guitarist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom he had been for a number of years and recorded five studio albums. John struggled with addiction to heroin and cocaine for more than five years. He said of his voices:

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.

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Anthony Hopkins

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins CBE  (born 31 December 1937), best known as Anthony Hopkins, is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television, and a composer. Considered to be one of the greatest living actors. 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 said

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.

Further he says he stopped drinking after he was rescued by a ‘golden voice’ from his subconscious. The Oscar-winning actor admits quitting alcohol in 1975 was a lucky escape.

“For me, giving it (alcohol) up was finding the airlock, the escape hatch. It all happened one Monday morning in 1975. It was as if a voice said, ‘Ready! Go!’ It was that clear, the voice of gold. The best part of myself, my subconscious, came to rescue me. I don’t know how. I had no religious connection or a connection to what I thought was God.”

“And then that Monday: Boom. And it was over. It was like a great pilot light was lit. No explanation except, I guess, I was open, willing and ready. When I look back I think I was so lucky to get out of that one. It was all about fear and horror. Definitely the horror – going down the plughole.”

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.

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Doris Stokes (1920 – 1987)

The renowned English medium Doris Stokes 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.

Stokes was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. In her memoirs she claimed that she started seeing spirits and hearing disembodied voices in childhood, and developed these abilities further once she joined a local spiritualist church. She was recognised as a practising clairaudient medium by the Spiritualists’ National Union in 1949. During a crisis of confidence in 1962, she gave up her work as a medium and retrained as a psychiatric nurse, but had to retire five years later following an attack by a patient. She returned to her psychic work and in 1975 became the resident medium at the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain.

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Carlos Santana

Carlos Augusto Alves Santana (born July 20, 1947) is a Mexican and American rock guitarist. Santana became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered rock, salsa and jazz fusion. The deeply religious rock star Carlos Santana confessed that after splitting from his wife of 34 years in 2006 he tried to commit suicide seven times, but was saved by the gentle voice of Christ.

In 2008 the gutarist admitted that he struggled to get past the grief the failure of his marriage caused – and figured he’d be better dead than alive.

“There were seven times when suicide was knocking. It got to the point where I really thought that death would be sweeter than the pain,”

Contactmusic quoted him, as telling Rolling Stone magazine.

“But each time I would go light up a candle, and I’m still hearing all this inner stuff, a thousand voices screaming at you, accusing you… but then I would just look at a picture of Jesus and say, ‘Help me,’ and then, very clearly, inwardly, I would hear this one voice that’s softer and louder than all the others, and it would say, ‘I’m sitting next to you. Isn’t that enough?’

“Once I heard that voice, something would shift, and I’d be able to find joy again in food and breathing,”

he added.

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Brian Wilson

Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, best known as the leader and chief songwriter of the group The 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.


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.


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Zoe Wannamaker

Zoë Wanamaker, CBE (born 13 May 1949) is an American-English actress. She has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company; in films, including the Harry Potter series; and in a number of television productions, including a long-time role as Susan Harper in the sitcom My Family. She talked about her voice hearing on the radio programme “Desert Island Discs” (BBC, Radio 4, 1994), she said:

It’s like a little person sitting on your shoulder saying “No that’s wrong. Don’t do this. Don’t do that…

It’s got in the way when I was working, because my concentration would be tripped by this voice in the back of my head. You think you’re concentrating, but the voices were also saying “your not concentrating”.

I know it sounds like Joan of Arc, but it was a sort of chatter that would be going on while I was on stage.

When asked if the voices had gone she said

They come back occasionally and have a good chat.

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