This one is a bit long, but really interesting. Cabinet of Wonders blog dug up an article by Danny Penman at the Daily Mail about hearing voices.
Now, normally, hearing voices is a sure symptom of mental illness (like schizophrenia) ... but is it always a bad thing? Here's a story recounted by consultant psychiatrist Dr. Ikechukwu Azuonye:
The story begins in 1984 when a married woman in her 40s was referred to him, apparently suffering from a psychiatric illness. Her ‘symptoms’ appeared when she was at home in London quietly reading a book, and a distinct voice appeared in her head.
‘Please don’t be afraid,’ the voice said in a firm but soothing tone. ‘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 Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, and we would like to help you.’
She was understandably shocked and was initially determined to dismiss the voice as a bizarre daydream. But it refused to go away and claimed that she was physically ill and would soon need help. [...]
‘The voices told her to go in and ask to have a brain scan,’ says Dr Azuonye. ‘This was apparently for two reasons. She had a tumour in her brain and her brain stem was inflamed.
Because the voices had told her things in the past that had turned out to be true, she believed them when they said that she had a tumour. I requested a brain scan.’
It turned out the diagnosis made by the voices was correct. Interestingly, says Dr Azuonye, there were no clinical signs that would have alerted anyone — including the patient — to the tumour.
The surgeon suggested an immediate operation to remove the tumour, a decision the voices agreed with. ‘They said they would have preferred the operation to be done at the National Hospital, Queen Square, London, because they specialised in neurological diseases. But because she was already at the Royal Free Hospital, they told her to have the procedure done there because it was urgent,’ Dr Azuonye says.
After the operation, and when the woman had recovered consciousness, the voices returned one last time, to bid her farewell. ‘We are pleased to have helped you,’ they said, before bidding her goodbye. ‘It is a miracle,’ says Dr Azuonye. ‘The patient regards herself as being helped by a guardian angel.’