27 Noviembre 2016 22:24
Is that really me? Why does my voice suddenly sound different? And, most importantly, why is it so unbearable to hear?
Professionals like journalists and interpreters who regularly have to endure recordings of their own voice often speak of how difficult it is to sit still and not run for the hills.
It's a strange phenomenon, mainly because it doesn't happen when we listen to a recording of someone else's voice.
It all stems from the fact that it's impossible to know how you sound when you speak because what you hear is actually a distorted version of how your voice sounds. But whenever you hear a recording, you're faced with a version that is much more similar to your authentic voice.
This is down to the makeup of your skull. When you speak, the sound reaches you through two pathways: one is the outer ear canal, which is exactly how any other sound reaches you. However, when your vocal chords vibrate, they also cause the bones of your skull vibrate, and bone conduction transmits lower frequencies than areal conduction. This is why when you hear yourself speaking normally, your brain perceives the sound of your voice as deeper than it really is.
So, that's the biological explanation. But it's also the case that, when we hear ourselves without actually producing the noise, we become our own observers and perceive what others perceive, instead of what we think we project.
It's similar to looking at a photo of yourself and seeing a different image to the one you see in the mirror. So, it's not that you hate your own voice, you just have to get used to it.
But the strange phenomenon doesn't affect everyone. A few years ago, New York psychologist Harold A. Sackeim discovered that people with high self-esteem have no problem listening to their own voice. In fact, they enjoy it, to the point where they ended up mistaking other people's voices for their own in an experiment.
In the experiment, Sackeim attacked the self-esteem of certain participants by telling them that they'd performed poorly in an intelligence test, while he boosted the ego of other participants by telling them that they'd obtained excellent results. Those whose self-esteem had been elevated soon heard their own voice even when it wasn't theirs, while the group of subjects who had been humiliated reported not hearing their voice even when it was.
For Sackeim, it's all connected to mental health. Those who often hear their own voice when presented with various recordings show a better state of mental health.