Hearing 'voices' common for children


When young children hear voices, many parents rush to the psychotherapist for an expensive battery of tests.

While hearing voices can be a manifestation of schizophrenia, and so should not be ignored, a new survey out of the Netherlands indicates that while many children hear voices, few are bothered by them.

The study of 3,870 primary school Dutch primary school students, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found that nearly one in 10 7- to 8-year-olds heard voices. But only 19% said the voices interfered with their thought process and 15% said they caused serious suffering and anxiety.

Boys and girls were equally likely to hear voices, but girls were more bothered by them. Urban children were less likely to hear voices than those who lived in rural areas, but the city dwellers were more likely to be disturbed by the voices and they were more likely to hear multiple voices speaking at once, a finding that concerned the researchers.