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I keep hearing voices, doc… (what, you too?)



Have you read that book, ‘The Inner Consultation?’ No, me neither. But I’m guessing it talks about some inner voice you hear when you’re consulting with patients. Some interpret this is an intuitive whispering of angels. But some believe there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, too.

My inner voice is more of the pointy-tail, pitchfork-holding sort. It recites the dialogue I’m not having with the patient but wish I was. Parenthesised, it might go like this:

‘So how are you, doctor?’ (like you care)…’ Anyway, I don’t know where to start…’ (somewhere near the end)… ‘…and I know you’re going to tell me off for not coming sooner…’ (that will never happen)…’but I’ve got headaches, my muscles hurt, I feel tired all the time and I’m not sleeping well…’ (OK, fine amitriptyline, next please)… ‘…everywhere hurts, everything’s an effort, my skin feels sensitive and I’m really fed up with it all…’ (like I said, amitriptyline. Lots of it)… ‘but I do appreciate you listening, doctor, it’s a real help…’ (did I set Sky Plus?)… ‘I’d really just like to know what’s wrong, exactly…’ (you’re bored with your job, dissatisfied with your life and your husband’s having an affair)… ‘…a friend said it might be fibromyalgia…’ (yeah, that’ll do)…and I just wanted to know, is it serious, doctor?’ (not as serious as I’d like).

‘But when I Googled the symptoms…’ (what? Are you still here?’)… ‘The search engine threw up…’ (I know how it feels)… ‘some other possibilities, so I wondered doctor, what do you think about Chronic…’ (oh) ‘…Fatigue…’ (my) ‘…Syndrome?’ (God).

I’d like to think you have a similar internal dialogue, too. Because, if not, then it quite possibly means I’m suffering auditory hallucinations and am therefore psychotic. Which figures. After all, as the old adage nearly goes, you do have to be mad to work here, but it doesn’t help.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex