Have you ever heard voices in your head? These voices may tell you what to do and what not to do. Such voices are thought broadcasting, a symptom of delusions of control and thought insertion.
If you suffer from delusions of thought broadcasting, this article will help you understand the disorder and what treatment you should seek.
What Is Thought Broadcasting?
Thought broadcasting is a delusion in which someone believes their thoughts are being broadcast aloud, often in the open. This might happen when the person speaks to others or, in some cases, alone.
The nature of thought broadcasting can vary significantly from one person to another. The person suffering from thought broadcasting may seem confused, preoccupied, or paranoid. They will likely believe others hear their thoughts and use them to judge personality judgments.
Examples of Thought Broadcasting
The most common example of thought broadcasting is when you have a conversation with someone, and they suddenly say something that makes you think, “Did they just read my mind?” Here are some hypothetical examples that are not linked to any specific person’s experience:
- A man is at home, thinking about what meal he will prepare for dinner. He believes that his apartment neighbors can hear these thoughts and know exactly what he plans to make despite not speaking about it out loud.
- In the library’s silence, a student concentrates on studying for an upcoming examination. She believes the people seated at nearby tables can hear her thoughts as she reads through her notes internally, affecting her concentration and increasing her anxiety.
- A woman is sitting on a park bench, watching the world go by, lost in her thoughts about her issues. She believes the passersby can hear these thoughts and know about her struggles, even though she hasn’t shared them with anyone.
These examples show that thought broadcasting can occur in any situation, creating a sense of vulnerability and anxiety.
Symptoms of Thought Broadcasting
Delusions of thought broadcasting are generally considered in severity at the lower end of the spectrum among thought disorders. More severe cases of this disorder are much more psychotic and may involve:
- Disorganized speech patterns
- Unable to think rationally
- Thoughts being stolen
- Thoughts being made up involuntarily without permission
- Hearing voices whispering
The occurrence of thought broadcasting is also often accompanied by anxiety and consequences like:
- Poor concentration
- Low self-esteem and feeling different from others
Causes of Thought Broadcasting
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes a person to cycle between episodes of mania and depression. A person with this condition will experience a range of moods, from manic to depressed. The swing from mania to depression can occur rapidly.
Stressful situations, extreme happiness, lack of sleep, or boredom can trigger sudden episodes of mania. And many people experience hallucinations or delusions due to mania or severe depression.
Schizophrenia is a long-term illness characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to recognize reality. People with schizophrenia may seem to have lost touch with reality or behave in ways others can’t understand.
Thought broadcasting is labeled as a positive symptom of schizophrenia. The inability to control these thoughts leads to a damaging cycle of confusion and unhappiness, where the person believes others are hearing their thoughts. This can often lead to violent outbursts because the person cannot distinguish what’s authentic from what they believe is projected from their mind.
Demanding Situations or Stress
While not as common, unusual or demanding situations, such as high-stress levels or sleep deprivation, can trigger temporary episodes of thought broadcasting in some individuals (Src).
Thought Broadcasting vs. Thought Insertion vs. Thought Withdrawal
The delusion of thought broadcasting is the belief that one’s thoughts are projected or transferred to others. In contrast, thought insertion is rare but not obscure. The feeling that our thoughts are not our own but are inserted into us by some external agency or entity is an alarming one. Different psychiatrists have come up with differing interpretations of the phenomenon, but it is generally considered a delusion.
Thought withdrawal is the delusional belief that other people or external forces control or take your thoughts away. The individual may experience a mental “emptiness” or feel their thoughts are stolen. This can also lead to helplessness or paranoia, impacting their overall sense of control and security.
|Belief that thoughts are being shared
|Belief that external force inserts thoughts
|Belief that thoughts are being removed
|Relation to Thoughts
|Perceived public availability of thoughts
|Unwanted and intrusive thoughts attributed to others
|Sensation of mental “emptiness”
|Mental Health Impact
|Paranoia, anxiety, vulnerability
|Others hearing thoughts in a crowded room
|A neighbor or entity implanting thoughts in one’s mind
|Secret organization extracting thoughts
Treatment of Thought Broadcasting
There is a science to dealing with the symptoms of thought broadcasting, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard. Psychotherapy can help you learn techniques to control the symptoms of your thought broadcasting through talking and gaining coping mechanisms for difficult situations.
Therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you live an ordinary life instead of constantly fearing that someone will read your mind because you’re thinking it out loud.
In most cases, antipsychotic medication and psychotherapy may reduce the intensity of thought broadcasting and help lessen hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms like delusions and extreme agitation.
If someone in your life is showing some of the symptoms of thought broadcasting, it can be a terrifying time for them and you. This makes people with this disorder shun other humans and isolate themselves from society because they fear hearing their thoughts. So, if you know someone who might be experiencing this condition, find some way to show them that you are there for them.
What Is Thought Broadcasting?
Thought broadcasting is a psychological phenomenon where an individual believes their thoughts are being heard aloud or transmitted to others despite not speaking.
How to Stop Thought Broadcasting?
Managing thought broadcasting typically involves cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. Lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet, exercise, sufficient sleep, and avoiding substances like drugs and alcohol also help.
What Causes Thought Broadcasting?
Thought broadcasting is primarily associated with severe mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and psychotic episodes. It’s often characterized by a disruption in the individual’s perception of reality.
Can Thought Broadcasting Be Cured?
While “cured” isn’t usually used in mental health disorders associated with thought broadcasting, symptoms can be effectively managed through therapies and medication, significantly improving the person’s quality of life. Treatment success varies between individuals.