So, what’s wrong with hearing voices? At a New York City forum some 50 professionals and consumers considered two unusual but important questions: “How unusual is it to hear voices?” and “What can I do about it?” The forum brought information about a growing international organization, the Hearing Voices Network that embarked on a nationwide training effort early in 2011, hoping to train voice-hearers how to create and facilitate HVN groups across the United States. Behavioral Healthcare (USA), 14th December 2011
Hearing Voices May Just Be That There is a new movement that’s vigorously pushing back against the notion that those who hear voices are sick. It’s called the Hearing Voices Network. It began in the U.K. but has come to the United States, and one of the first American chapters was founded right here in Massachusetts. Radio Boston (USA), 31st October 2011
Half of Dutch Teens Have Mild Psychotic Experiences Regularly Apparently, teens are no strangers to having mild psychotic experiences such as delusional thoughts or moderate feelings of paranoia, according to doctoral research by Hanneke Wigman of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. According to Wigman, there are five kinds of mild psychotic experiences: hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, megalomania and paranormal convictions.
About 40 percent of the nearly 7,700 Dutch adolescents aged 12 to 16 years reported that they often have such experiences. Some examples of mild psychotic experiences include hearing voices, feeling that thoughts are being taken out of your head or the feeling that others are acting differently from what they are.
The episodes are milder than those in psychosis. PsychCentral (USA), 18th September 2011
Learning to Cope With a Mind’s Taunting Voices Joe Holt, a computer consultant and entrepreneur who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, describes how he’s learned to manage the voices in his head. In recent years, researchers have begun talking about mental health care in the same way addiction specialists speak of recovery — the lifelong journey of self-treatment and discipline that guides substance abuse programs. The idea remains controversial: managing a severe mental illness is more complicated than simply avoiding certain behaviors. The journey has more mazes, fewer road signs. Yet people like Joe Holt are traveling it and succeeding. Most rely on some medical help, but each has had to build core skills from the ground up, through trial and repeated error. Now more and more of them are risking exposure to tell their stories publicly. “If you’re going to focus on recovery, you might want to ask those who’ve actually recovered what it is they’re doing,” said Frederick J. Frese III, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine who has written about his own struggles with schizophrenia. New York Times (USA), 6th August, 2011
Hearing Voices in Your Head Is Normal While Reading People who imagine voices may not be so crazy after all. While glossing over dialogue in books, readers will speak the voices–as they imagine the speaker–in their heads, a Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience study finds. The transcript of an Obama speech features his deep cadence in your head. Or Hermione sounds like Emma Watson. That sort of thing.
Using MRIs, researchers distinguished the parts of your brains that activate while reading different parts of books. When readers reach a bit of dialogue, they likely create “spontaneous imagery” of the reported speakers voice.
Earlier studies have acknowledge that internal speech is normal. In fact those who don’t imagine voices in their head may have health issues. A University of Sheffield psychology professor has found links between a lack of internal voices and poor reading ability in those with dyslexia. “Everyone assumes everyone else is the same. However, we have found not everyone has an inner voice and in those who don’t, literacy levels are often poor,” he told the Daily Mail. Meaning hearing voices actually indicates that you’re a good reader. The Wire (USA), 28th July 2011
Conversations with ourselves “You have voices telling you to kill yourself. Do you ask them why?” No, they don’t listen. “If I told you to go and stand in the middle of the road, you wouldn’t do it.” No, if you told me to I wouldn’t. “If I asked you to do it you would want a reason, but you don’t want a reason from the voices.” Yes I do. “Then ask them.” This is not one’s idea of a normal conversation, but for the participants it makes perfect, potentially life-altering sense. Ron Coleman has just begun a workshop at Western Springs Community Hall on a radical self-help technique called voice dialogue. In a five-minute conversation with a young woman he draws out, to her considerable surprise, an outline of her situation. She hears two negative middle-aged voices – one male, the other female. The male voice is worse. She is also dealing with drug addiction, but that’s not the cause of her voices. They began when she was 10. She has never asked what the male voice is called. The woman is clearly astounded by Coleman’s revelation that she can ask her voices for information. “Nobody’s suggested that to you before,” he tells her, “because we are caught in the world of voices rather than having dialogue about it.” The New Zealand Herald (NZ), 4th June 2011
Treatment of Schizophrenia Challenged in Western Australia “The Psychiatrist, the psychologist and the ex patient: a frank discussion on schizophrenia” will provide a platform for Dr Dirk Corstens from the Netherlands, award-winning psychologist Eleanor Longden, and ex patient and Voices advocate Ron Coleman, to discuss their expertise and experience on schizophrenia and voice hearing, as well as share innovative ways on the treatment of schizophrenia and management the experience. Joe Calleja CEO of Richmond Fellowship, the local mental health organisation behind International programme, said the new information on dealing with mental health issues could challenge thinking about mental health into the future. “Voice hearing is often associated with schizophrenia, and the conventional response to schizophrenia is limited – it is currently believed that if someone is sick, they are sick forever and will never recover,” he said. “This forum gives Western Australian’s an opportunity to consider alternative ways of viewing mental illness. Our speakers will bring to the table a compelling argument that will impact the way we deal with mental health issues and demonstrate that a person can live a much more meaningful life if the individual is looked at in terms of their total needs and not just a general diagnosis.” Newsmaker, Friday, June 10th, 2011
Drinking too much coffee can make you hear voices, warn scientists If you keep hearing things that aren’t there, you’re probably drinking too much coffee. Just five cups a day could be enough to make your ears play tricks on you, according to researchers. In an experiment, volunteers who had consumed ‘high levels’ of caffeine thought they were listening to Bing Crosby singing White Christmas even though the song was not being played. The researchers described caffeine as ‘the most commonly used psychoactive drug’. They said the study showed that the health risks of too much coffee need to be addressed. Daily Mail (UK), 7th June 2011
Jacqui Dillon to Speak on Hearing Voices The standard medical model of human suffering treats experiences of voices and visions as symptoms of serious mental illness requiring treatment and eradication. Psychology professor Gail Hornstein is bringing British mental health expert and voice hearer Jacqui Dillon to MHC for a talk that challenges this notion of what it is like to hear voices. Dillon is a writer, campaigner, speaker, and an internationally known mental health trainer specializing in psychosis, trauma, and dissociation. She will share her expertise in her talk “Bad Things That Happen to You Can Drive You Crazy!: Understanding Abuse, Trauma, and Madness and Working toward Recovery” Tuesday, March 22 at 7:30 pm in Dwight Hall, room 101.
In her lecture, Dillon will explore a growing body of evidence that reframes experiences of hearing voices and seeing visions into meaningful responses to overwhelming events, capable of being understood and integrated into a person’s life. Learning how voices and visions function as techniques of survival can be crucial to developing coping strategies and aiding full recovery. Dillon is a director of Intervoice: The International Network for Training, Education, and Research into Hearing Voices and a leading figure in the Hearing Voices Network, an international collaborative organization of patients and professionals. Along with Professor Marius Romme and Dr. Sandra Escher, she coedited Living with Voices, an anthology of 50 voice hearers’ stories of recovery. Currently she is coediting the forthcoming Demedicalizing Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology, and the Human Condition. Mount Holyoke College 10th March 2011
First steps in mindfulness skills Chadwick (2006) has developed a mindfulness approach to help people living with the experience of hearing voices. Nursing Times (UK), 13th February, 2011