Top award for hearing voices group Because of the way that the East Sussex Hearing Voices Groups were initiated by service users and depend entirely on the active participation and enthusiastic support of clients and carers, a Best of Health patients’ panel awarded the Patient and Public Involvement Award to them. Sussex Partnership Trust, 1st December 2006
Broken home linked to psychosis People from broken homes may be more prone to psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, research suggests. Researchers said their findings suggest the illnesses are not simply brain diseases, but linked to factors such as social adversity. They found much higher rates among black people, who were also more likely to come from broken homes. The study, by London’s Institute of Psychiatry, will appear in the journal Psychological Medicine.
The researchers examined data on people in south east London, Bristol and Nottingham, including 780 who showed signs of a psychotic illness. They found schizophrenia was nine times more common in people from African Caribbean origin, and six times more common in people from black African origin than in the white British population.
In a second paper, they found that separation from one or both parents for more than a year before the age of 16, as a consequence of family breakdown, was associated with a 2.5 fold increased risk of developing psychosis in adulthood. Family breakdown of this type was found to be more common in the African-Caribbean community (31%) than the white community (18%). BBC News (UK), 21st November 2006
Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Hearing Voices? It’s Just Somebody’s Imagination Harold Crick, who lives alone in a spartan apartment in an unspecified city (Chicago, it looks like), is an I.R.S. auditor who obeys an unvarying routine. At least, that is, until the musings of the film’s voice-over narrator become audible not just to the audience but to Harold as well.
Irked by the dry, British, female voice in his head, he is driven to seek out its source. He eventually discovers that he is a character in a novel being written by Karen Eiffel (an antic Emma Thompson), who is chain-smoking her way through an epic case of writer’s block, helped by a no-nonsense emissary from her publisher played by Queen Latifah.
The audience is aware of Harold’s situation long before he is, an example of dramatic irony, as we learn from Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), the English professor Harold turns to for help. New York Times (USA), 10th November 2006
Time to listen to the voices again The Herald, 3rd October 2006
Sounding out those voices that nobody else can hear Hearing voices when no one is there can be a symptom of mental illness, yet a study of the phenomenon found nearly half the people who heard voices said their hallucinations were mostly friendly or helpful. New Zealand Herald (NZ), 6th September 2006
Voices in the head ‘are normal’ Contrary to traditional belief, hearing voices is not necessarily a symptom of mental illness, UK researchers at Manchester University say. BBC (UK), 18th September 2006
‘I learned to live with voices’ Hearing voices has traditionally been viewed as a negative thing and a symptom of mental health problems, but new research has revealed not only do four percent of people hear voices, but some say that the voices are a positive part of their lives. BBC Online (UK), 18th September 2006
Hearing Voices: Some People Like It For some people, hearing voices in their heads is a positive experience, not a sign of mental illness or cause for distress. Researchers at the University of Manchester are aiming to find out why. Traditionally these auditory hallucinations, as psychologists call them, are associated with mental illness. They can be a symptom of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and sometimes depression. But studies by Dutch researchers that began in the 1990s found that some healthy people also regularly hear voices. The scientists ran a program on Dutch television asking for volunteers who heard voices, and they got a surprising response.
Many of the people who contacted them did not find the voices disruptive and had never felt the need to consult mental health services. Some even said they found the experience to be positive or inspirational. Live Science 15th September, 2006
Listening to the voices How can hearing voices in your head be a good thing? Researcher Aylish Campbell says voices are a natural part of life and that how it affects you depends how you react to the experience. BBC News (UK), 14th September 2006
Study into millions who hear voices in head launched to coincide with WHVD Scientists in the UK are to investigate why so many “normal” people hear voices in their heads. Press Association (UK), 13th September 2006
Can hearing voices in your head be a good thing? Psychologists have launched a study to find out why some people who hear voices in their head consider it a positive experience while others find it distressing. The University of Manchester investigation – announced on World Hearing Voices Day (Thursday, 14th September) – comes after Dutch researchers found that many healthy members of the population there regularly hear voices. Although hearing voices has traditionally been viewed as ‘abnormal’ and a symptom of mental illness, the Dutch findings suggest it is more widespread than previously thought, estimating that about 4% of the population could be affected. Researcher Aylish Campbell said: “We know that many members of the general population hear voices but have never felt the need to access mental health services; some experts even claim that more people hear voices and don’t seek psychiatric help than those who do.
“In fact, many of those affected describe their voices as being a positive influence in their lives, comforting or inspiring them as they go about their daily business. We’re now keen to investigate why some people respond in this way while others are distressed and seek outside help.”
Although the voices heard by psychiatric patients and members of the general population seem to be of the same volume and frequency, the former group tend to interpret the voices as more distressing and negative. The team believes that external factors such as a person’s life experiences and beliefs may be the key to these differences: for example, the presence of childhood trauma or negative beliefs about themselves could have an affect.
“If a person is struggling to overcome a trauma or views themselves as worthless or vulnerable, or other people as aggressive, they may be more likely to interpret their voices as harmful, hostile or powerful,” said Aylish.
“Conversely, a person who has had more positive life experiences and formed more healthy beliefs about themselves and other people might develop a more positive view of their voices.
“People being treated for hearing voices are usually given medication in an attempt to eliminate the problem. By investigating the factors influencing how voices are experienced we hope to contribute to the development of psychological therapies to help people better understand and cope with their voices.” Eurekalert, 13th September 2006
Hearing Voices – the invisible intruders The latest research on how auditory hallucinations occur in the brain, what it’s like to live with voices in your head—and the healing power of the international Hearing Voices Network. “All in the Mind”, ABC Radio (Australia), 22nd July 2006
Child Abuse can Cause Schizophrenia The experience of hearing voices is consistently associated with childhood trauma regardless of diagnosis or genetic pedigree. EurekAlert!, 13th June 2006