While we can talk about auditory hallucinations in class, it’s difficult for students to understand how much of an impact this experience can have on the people who must cope with the hallucinations.
The free Hearing Voices app provides students with simulated auditory hallucinations (Android; may or may not be available for iOS – check iTunes). The app’s disclaimer statement notes that the audio simulations were “recorded by people who hear voices. The content is designed to reflect the variety of voices commonly experienced, as such some voices will be positive, providing support and encouragement, while others will be confusing or critical, perhaps repeating strange phrases or disparagements. It is vitally important that the recordings sufficiently mimic real-life and therefor the footage you will hear does contain profanities and explicit language which some people may find offensive.”
The app comes with two activities and three exercises. The activities ask the listener to do a memory task and a mental math task while listening to the simulated auditory hallucinations. The exercises ask the listener to engage in conversation with a friend or engage in some other everyday activity while listening to the audio.
If you would like to have students experience this in class, ask them to bring headphones (the iPhone users can plug their headphones into the Android phone of another student). One student can listen to the simulation while holding a conversation with the student next to them. And then have students switch roles so the other student can experience the simulated auditory hallucinations. Each activity and exercise comes with a “reflective prompt” that you may choose to use as a writing prompt for an out-of-class assignment.
If students would like to explore further, in the Podcasts section of the app, four people speak of their experiences with auditory hallucinations. In the Explanations section, students can explore sociocultural, psychological, and biological contributors to the experience of auditory hallucinations.
At the time of this writing, the app contains some glaring typos, but that doesn’t detract from the app’s value.
There are several auditory hallucination simulation videos available on YouTube, such as this one. If you don’t want to ask students to download an app, students can launch on of those videos instead, such as this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vvU-Ajwbok.
[Thank you to Dana Wallace for posting on May 4, 2016 a link to this Hearing Voices app on the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Facebook page!]