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See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 24, Issue 4

How to Live with Voice Hearing

A student's journey from “normal” to “schizophrenic” and back highlights shortcomings in how our society deals with mental health

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When I left home for the first time in 1999 to go to university, I was brimming with hope and optimism. I'd done well in school, expectations for me were high, and I gleefully entered the campus life of lectures and parties. To all appearances, I was a feisty, energetic and capable person with everything to hope for and aspire to.

Beneath that veneer, however, I was deeply unhappy, insecure and frightened—frightened of other people, of the future, of failure, of falling short of the punishingly high expectations that I had placed on myself. And, possibly most of all, I was frightened of the emptiness that I felt was inside me. I was skilled at hiding all this, of course. This aura of invulnerability I had created was so complete that I had even deceived myself. There was no way anyone could have predicted the catastrophe that was about to unfold.

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