Mobile app may help schizophrenics tame the wild voices in their heads

Biofeedback system that fits in a pocket can help train patients to ignore phantom voices


Information technology, especially personal computers, smartphones and handhelds, have a far greater reputation for causing mental illness than relieving it.

Not the serious kind that gets you confined to locked treatment facilities, ruins your life, your career and your hope of ever being able to cope with your own life. Not even the kind that makes getting on a reality TV series seem like a good idea.

Computers usually just amp up the stress, shrink the window of time available to do anything and stop working correctly at the exact moment you can't afford any malfunctions. In those characteristics they're exactly like every other inanimate object in the world – all of which resent the presence of humans enough that many will do what they can to thwart, punish or frustrate us just for petty revenge.

The more tiny bits of the inanimate are in a single object, the more precocious evil that object contains.

Computers make you nuts, but not really crazy

Computers are made up of a LOT of tiny parts, many of which we've made more intelligent than they already were.

That's why experienced IT people seem superstitious about the systems they work on, why they have little rules like 'if it's working, don't touch it,' even if 'It' is due for an upgrade. They know from bitter experience that any attempt to improve something that already works will, inevitably, break what currently works without delivering the benefit of the new generation of technology – at least, not without a lot of work, a lot of swearing and at least one swift kick at the casing to physically intimidate the new box into cooperating.


So reading that researchers at the University of Bergen are developing an app for smartphones or tablets they hope will help schizophrenics tame the real-sounding voices in their heads and function more effectively with non-schizophrenics, I was skeptical.

The voices schizophrenics hear, at least according to Univ. of Bergen professor Kenneth Hugdahl, aren't just impulse whispers, they're tangible voices that sound real and are difficult to ignore.

It's often difficult to even know whether the voices are coming from outside the victim's head or which are not real.

One app might help schizophrenics seem more sane

Brain scans show a drop in brain activity while a victim is hearing voices, but more activity in the sections of the brain responsible for receiving and processing language, even if there is no one speaking or any reason beyond hallucination to hear voices.

Photo Credit: 

Kenneth Hugdahl

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