deaf pt hearing voices

  1. Any nurses with psych experience that can add some insight for a ER nurse. I took care of a pt in the ER, i t was so sad but the more I thought about it, the more weird it was. I had a pt who has been deaf since birth. She hears no sounds at all . Only feels vibration. But she was having suicidal ideations. She wrote that a voice in her head was telling her to kill herself. So, here's my question. What do the voices in her head sound like. If you've never heard human voices, what do they sound like. Has anyone ever had experience with this. If I can get some insight it may help in some way , when she comes in again. The Dr's had no idea, the social worker had no idea.
  2. Visit time4meRN profile page

    About time4meRN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 459; Likes: 336

    10 Comments

  3. by   chuck1234
    Only the patient himself/herself knows how it sounds like...
    Anyhow, this is a psych patient....he/she sees things we normal people do not see....hear things normal people do not hear...
    But this is a very interesting question...and I hope someone out there will know the answer.
  4. by   psychnurse37
    I have dealt with many patients who hallucinate, even some who were hearing or sight impaired. The "voices" are real to them, sometimes coming from in their head and other times coming from somewhere outside their head. Some are friendly voices, others are threatening or demanding. Sometimes they can recognize the person "talking to them" and sometimes it is a stranger. Some even got upset when the medication made the voices go away, they enjoyed the "companionship". For this deaf patient, the voices may be "thoughts" which is how some patients described the voices. Many of our hearing patients use a Walkman radio to drown out the voices. Others can just say "go away" and the voices will leave for awhile.
    I am usually amazed when they so freely describe the voices. I thing I would deny them if I was hallucinating, but they usually talk about them. The hardest voices to deal with are the "command hallucinations" they seldom respond to medication quickly. These patients must be monitored for impulsive behavior, because the voices often tell them to hurt themself or to hurt someone else. When your patient comes back to the ER, just spend time with her and tell her with "signing" that the medication will help if she keeps taking it. Good luck. I praise all of you nurses who are dealing with the psych patients in any field besides the psych unit. Thank you for caring for them and trying to understand their needs. They are a special population, often misunderstood, but usually very needy!
  5. by   P_RN
    Some auditory hallucinations fall into the tinnitus category. When I got really ill and my K+ fell to 2.8 I not only heard radio newscasts far far far away, but I SMELLED potpourri on everyone and everything. They WERE THERE!


    Ordinarily my smelling ability is poor to say the least. I think the nurses thought I was a nutcake, but when my K+ was replaced I stopped hearing CBS' Edward R Murrow and Chet and David on NBC. all of whom are dead but I heard them anyway.
  6. by   SICU Queen
    Wow.

    I'm not a psych nurse but have dealt with those patients on occasion in the ICU. I've never even thought about a deaf patient hearing voices! (Not that I don't believe they can, just that I've never been exposed to that and it didn't occur to me.)

    Thanks for the thread, great info!
  7. by   mediatix8
    I have often thought about how deaf people think. I know when I think to myself, I can "hear" my own voice in my head. A deaf person deaf from birth really doesn't know what sound is so when they think to themselves, I would imagine they play out in their mind sign language with their hands. So maybe when a deaf person is hallucinating, they are getting sign language images in their mind that seem to come from somehere else. They might describe it as hearing voices.
  8. by   barbaratruth
    When I had psychology a few years ago, this came up in class.

    I would think "hearing" is more of an expression the patient is using to translate that thoughts other than her own are being communicated in her brain.

    When we think about something, we know the ideas we're mulling around are our own. If we think about our memories, we can remember the words and circumstances including other people.

    When someone is having a hallucination (the perception of something being real or actually happening), it is a false perception that feels real only to the person having the hallucination.

    "Auditory" hallucinations are not heard by the ears, they are being interpreted as being "heard" by the brain and are not recognized as the same "voice" of the person hallucinating.

    Many times there is no language to communicate an experience, so people use the words that seem closest to describing something, and because there are no words in our language to really describe this experience, the brain comes up with the best words it knows -- which of course, doesn't make sense to the listener.
  9. by   teeituptom
    Quote from time4meRN
    Any nurses with psych experience that can add some insight for a ER nurse. I took care of a pt in the ER, i t was so sad but the more I thought about it, the more weird it was. I had a pt who has been deaf since birth. She hears no sounds at all . Only feels vibration. But she was having suicidal ideations. She wrote that a voice in her head was telling her to kill herself. So, here's my question. What do the voices in her head sound like. If you've never heard human voices, what do they sound like. Has anyone ever had experience with this. If I can get some insight it may help in some way , when she comes in again. The Dr's had no idea, the social worker had no idea.
    Ask the patient
  10. by   justme1972
    Considering she has been deaf since birth....this is a very, very interesting post indeed. It's like you wonder if she "sees" colors when she is thinking or dreaming....and if you have never seen anything...what do you dream about?
  11. by   time4meRN
    Wow, thanks everyone. All of you helped spark some interesting thoughts about the subject. The social worker was going to ask the pt what the voices sounded like, but I failed to mention, the pt is mute as well, so I'm not sure we would understand even if she told us. But, logic tells me after reading the posts, that perhaps it's actually a feeling that somehow she has turned into voices. I guess a voice could be a matter of preception. Never the less, this is difficult to deal with in hearing, talking pt's , let alone deaf , mute.
  12. by   Megsd
    The more I think about it, this kind of makes sense. I mean, when I think to myself, what I am "hearing" myself say doesn't really "sound" like my voice, or any voice at all, really. It's just this stimulation I recognize as my thoughts. I could see how if a deaf person were to "hear voices" they could be similar to this -- thoughts in her head that she does not identify as her own.

close