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A previously healthy woman began to hear hallucinatory voices telling her to have a brain scan for a tumour.
In the winter of 1984, as she was at home reading, she heard a distinct voice inside her head. The voice told her, “Please don't be afraid. 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 Children's Hospital, Great Ormond Street, and we would like to help you.” AB had heard of the Children's Hospital, but did not know where it was and had never visited it.
Her children were well, so she had no reason to worry about them. This made it all the more frightening for her, and the voice intervened again: “To help you see that we are sincere, we would like you to check out the following”—and the voice gave her three separate pieces of information, which she did not possess at the time. She checked them out, and they were true, but this did not help because she had already come to the conclusion that she had “gone mad.”
In a state of panic, AB went to see her doctor, who referred her urgently to me. I saw her at the psychiatric outpatients clinic, and diagnosed a functional hallucinatory psychosis. I offered general supportive counselling as well as medication with thioridazine. To her great relief, the voices inside her head disappeared after a couple of weeks of treatment, and she went off on holiday. While she was abroad, and still taking the thioridazine, the voices returned. They told her that they wanted her to return to England immediately as there was something wrong with her for which she should have immediate treatment.
AB later told me that when she recovered consciousness after the operation the voices told her, “We are pleased to have helped you. Goodbye.” There were no postoperative complications. The dosage of dexamethasone was halved every four days, and then it was stopped. She was on prophylactic anticonvulsants for six months. Antipsychotic medication was discontinued immediately after the operation, and there was no return of the hallucinatory voices or the delusions which she had expressed.