Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Voices Diagnose Brain Tumor

As one who has had his share of audio hallucinations (at least I have always considered them such), the case of a British patient identified only as AB continues to fascinate me. Not only so, it causes me to wonder if I should not listen more closely when I do
Occasionally hear voices.
Perhaps we can file AB's case under  Shakespeare's suggestion: "There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (as he has Hamlet say to Horatio).
Late in 1984 AB suddenly became aware of voices telling her, “Please don’t be afraid. I know it must be shocking for you to hear me speaking to you like this, but this is the easiest way I could think of. My friend and I used to work at the Children’s Hospital, Great Ormond Street, and we would like to help you.”
As would be the case with anyone, this was very unsettling to AB. But the voice spoke again, giving her information about the hospital to which she was directed to go. 
Doctor Ikechukwu Obialo Azuonye diagnosed her with functional hallucinatory psychosis and prescribed  counseling and, of course, chemicals; in this case, Thioridazine, which seemed at first to help.
After a while she felt well enough to embark on a vacation trip (while still taking the Thioridazine) only to start again receiving messages from the voices. Now she was informed that she had a brain tumor and would need a brain scan to determine its location.
Dr. Azuonye did finally reluctantly order the scan (more to pacify his patient, as he had found no indicators that a tumor existed) and confirmed the tumor diagnosis, just as the voices described.
The good doctor had referred her to a neurosurgeon who successfully performed the operation, which went well. One last message was received by AB from the voices: “We are pleased to have helped you. Goodbye.” She was weaned off her medication and soon returned to normalcy.
What I wrote above was based on Dr. Azuonye's account, which is available online here (but unfortunately is behind a pay wall). In fact, Dr. Azuonye remained in contact with AB over the years.

Well, all in all a very fascinating case. The "naturalistic" explanation is that in some way the body is able to communicate information to the consciousness. However, Dr. Azuonye relates that the voices also gave AB three pieces of information that she was not aware of but which she was able to confirm. For me, that places the naturalistic explanation at a disadvantage to account for all the facts. However, because I take seriously holism and the idea of an interconnectedness for all of reality, I can extend "naturalism" much farther than skeptics generally do. This is also why I take premonitions and precognitive dreams seriously.  


  1. To be quite honest, I am fearful of premonitions for some reason, but dreams...that is something different.

    Allow me to share two that always stuck with me.

    When I met my husband, I was in another (really bad) relationship and we all used to hang out and party together. I had a dream one night that my husband (who was just a party friend at the time) took me out of there and "saved" me from the situation. In real life this is eventually what happened.


    Six months before getting pregnant with my fourth child, I had a dream that we were in the hospital and I was having a baby boy. Someone asked me his name and I said "Daniel Martin." I don't know where that came from, but when I found out several months later we were indeed having a boy, guess what his name is? " :)

    1. I've had far more premonitions the precognitive dreams. My dreams seem to be very layered and complex. They speak to me often, but sometimes I can't make sense of them at all.

      The stories you shared here are great and I'm sure very meaningful to you. Some folks might tend to be dismissive, but I put great stock in such things.

      Here's something I have noticed. On more than one occasion I have seen a women - having yet to meet her - and felt that she and I were going to connect romantically. And we would. Have I had that feeling and nothing came of it? Not that I recall. Is that always the case with women I have became romantically involved with? Not at all.

      For a long period of my life I allowed my rational mind to run roughshod over my gut feelings and instincts. I'm no longer doing that, as I did when I was younger and less jaded. People can call me loopy, but so what? It's my life.