Strange whispers and tunnel vision?
August 14, 2012 7:18 AM   Subscribe

I remember a strange phenonenon that occurred a few times when I was a child. Voices accompanied with an odd "telescoping" of my vision. A few years ago I read a description of this, but my search powers are failing me. Ring a bell with anyone?

This happened maybe half a dozen times, when I was about 9 to 12 (?) or so. One incident I remember quite clearly. I was in the bathroom with my mother, talking about something and my vision telescoped, as if I were looking through the wrong end of telescope and my mother was far away. At the same time, my hearing was also affected, and my mother's voice--as well as mine--sounded echo-y, as if we were talking long-distance.

It was almost like an out-of-body-experience, but not quite like I was looking at myself from a different vantage point.

The other phenomenon that happened after that (or maybe at the same time as all of this) was these voices I heard. Whispering, a lot of whispering, from lots of different voices/people. I can't remember what they were saying, and at the time maybe I couldn't understand what they were saying. I remember a different occasion, along with the tunnel vision, I was lying on my bed and distinctly heard several different voices. It freaked me out, so I got up and walked around, and all the phenomena seemed to just fade away. Sometime in early adolescence, maybe around puberty, the phenomenon stopped.

It's hard to be sure, but I think these events would only last a short time, ten to twenty minutes or so. Even at the time, I just chalked it up to sleepiness and an overactive imagination, but a few years ago I read other people's experiences that mirrored my own almost exactly. I even seem to recall a medical term for this phenomenon. Anyone have any idea?
posted by zardoz to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I had the auditory hallucinations too, many nights when I tried to go to sleep. For me they seemed to be replaying language I'd heard earlier in the day, or the voices of different people I knew saying my own name.

When I Googled "childhood auditory hallucinations" just now (which is what I remember this being called when I tried to look into it), a ton of stuff come up.
posted by gerryblog at 7:39 AM on August 14, 2012

I have had the telescoping vision many, many times - more frequently as a child than as an adult, but it still happens from time to time. The one incident I most remember was laying on the couch with chicken pox and looking at a wooden toy block that was on the floor near the couch. I don't specifically remember anything about auditory effects. I will be watching this thread with great interest, because I've always wondered what causes this to happen.
posted by youngergirl44 at 7:42 AM on August 14, 2012

Best answer: Sounds like Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:42 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

The tunnel vision and echoey distant (real) voices sounds like your basic faint. I've only had it related to extended adrenaline production, but it doesn't sound like that's your issue. It's also associated with blood loss, hypoxia, etc.

The false voices do not seem related unless your partially conscious brain was interpreting other noises, or even the noise of your own blood running through the vessels in your ears as something else. Was any sort of emotion or feeling associated? I was thinking night terrors or associated phenomena but that doesn't seem to quite fit either.
posted by rocketpup at 7:43 AM on August 14, 2012

Best answer: The voices are called hypnagogic hallucinations, and they are common right before sleep or right after waking. It's common to understand the voices and not recognize whose they are, or to recognize them but not understand what they're saying. I had them too as a child, but they petered out my freshman year of college.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:28 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I get both of those symptoms just before I faint, not that I faint that often anymore but I went through a stage in puberty where I fainted a few times, I've had it happen when I was sick with gastro once too, just passed out while laying down it was very weird.
posted by wwax at 8:45 AM on August 14, 2012

I've had a similar vision thing. I remember it happening several times when I was little. It wasn't anything I was looking at though, it was always - a hallucination, I guess - me floating above an endless field of enormous red match heads, and then instantaneously being right up close to one so that it was huge and filled my vision. And the perspective would switch from being really far above to being really, really close a few times and then it would kinda fade away. It was pretty unnerving, and yet kind of fascinating.

On preview - Alice in Wonderland syndrome sounds like it could fit the bill for me. I can't be 100% sure, but I equate these vision memories to times when I was really sick. Maybe this explains it.
posted by MsVader at 8:58 AM on August 14, 2012

I'm a very easy fainter, and the tunnel vision/faraway voices/whispering chorus thing pretty much fits my pre-faint symptoms, as well. Was there a particular physical position or emotional state that you associate with the experience?
posted by Bardolph at 9:08 AM on August 14, 2012

I got this with my migraines as a little kid, sort of.
posted by elizardbits at 9:50 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Pop culture note: the Pink Floyd song "Comfortably Numb" in part describes a childhood occurrence of AIWS.
posted by The Tensor at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome seems to fit the bill. Though it's doesn't really talk about the voices--infinitewindow nailed that part I think. It's been decades, but I'm pretty sure these phenomenon happened together, maybe they were separate.
posted by zardoz at 4:27 PM on August 14, 2012

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome! I have an answer! Thank you, zardoz, for asking this question.
posted by youngergirl44 at 8:59 PM on August 15, 2012

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