7th World Hearing Voices Congress

IMG_4435Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 09.20.34The 7th World Hearing Voices Congress was held in Alcala de Henares, Madrid on the 6th – 7th of November.

Congress Theme

Building on our common experience, building a world in common


“Two central ideas and a personal bet as to how to confront mental distress.

Two lines that work in parallel and that enjoy intersecting every once in a while.

A grouping of words that attempt to represent an infinity of meanings, as well as transmit a message in the most honest and clearest way possible.

This motto isn’t a marketing tool, as we have nothing to sell, or money to be gained.

It is, first and foremost, a declaration of intent. Mental health is not a remote island living on the margins of reality.

These paragraphs are written within Spain, a territory situated in Southern Europe, and currently submerged in a devastating social and economic crisis. In order to think about mental health, we must situate ourselves in a particular context, both globally and locally. If we perceive an individual’s pain as an isolated issue, we will find ourselves validating a world which we already know and in which many of us have become ill or crazy.

A world in which there are private solutions being offered for collective problems; a world where each must fend for his own within this late capitalist mentality we inhabit. We must begin by acknowledging the evident: we are immersed in scarcity. Increasingly, there are more aspects of everyday life that we, as individuals, can no longer control. This scarcity is not only material, but also emotional. It separates us and sabotages our attempts at communication.

There is a direct link between the construction of neighborhoods without town squares, where neighbors can come together, and the fact that psychiatric practices have become farmaceutical vending machines. This is a sign of our times, a time where no one listens to one another, and furthermore, where this lack of communication is deemed normal and natural. Scarcity leads us into fragility, into a position that reinforces domination and legitimizes resignation.

That is how the future is dealt to us, with no way out, determining that everything will eternally stay exactly the same. And everything means everything: our diagnosis, our job, our very existence. In order to combat this prognosis, our stance is defined by resistance. We do not accept this scenario and we construct strategies in order to escape it, or rather, dismantle it. We do not have a magic recipe, nor do we trust those who say they do.

We simply believe that in a historic moment like the one we live in, it is necessary to revindicate the collective task at hand and the creation of solid and horizontal community networks. We must reinvent channels and spaces that facilitate communication, connecting psychological suffering with an individual’s life story, and sharing the need to communicate as equals. We must defend ourselves from the pharmaceutical industry’s suffocating grip and begin to articulate situations and projects where we may shake off this general impotence and where it becomes possible to think and create new realities.

Our deepest hope is that this Seventh World Hearing Voices Congress will be a part of this change. One more step amongst many in order to walk down new pathways, so that people reconnect with each other and become aware of our capacity to create knowledge and transform the world that we all hold and which is taken from us day by day. Our future and our wellness are and will be a collective task.

If we do not acknowledge this, we won’t have a future worth heading towards.

The hell of living people is not something to come; if there is one, it is here already, it’s the hell we live in every day, which we form staying together. There are two ways not to suffer from it. The first comes easy to many: to accept hell and become part of it, to the point you don’t see it anymore. The second is risky and requires continuous attention and learning: to look for and recognize who and what, in the middle of hell, is not hell, and to make it last, and give it space. Italo Calvino. Invisible Cities.”

Congress Organisers

The INTERVOICE Pre-meeting was held on the 5th November.

Reports were made by the attending National Hearing Voices Networks.




Patricia Rey on the paths of spanish Hearing Voices network.

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Yann Derobert, France

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Marius Romme

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Olga Runciman

Around the Congress: People and Events


Flamenco and jazz party

Our Booksellers!

Our Booksellers!


Sandra Escher, Will Hall and Marius Romme.

Congress on the radio

Sascha Altman DuBrul

Sascha Altman DuBrul

The precious key chains of colleagues from Arcadia Clubhouse Sevilla

The precious key chains of colleagues from Arcadia Clubhouse Sevilla


Interventions by members in the debate: Miguel Otero

The main Congress was attended by 430 participants from around the world.


The 430 lucky attendees.

The 430 lucky attendees.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 09.15.12430 participants


Keynote speakers included:

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Inauguration of the congress with Marius Romme, Olga Runciman and Paula Tomé Espiñeira.


Voices, social context and art of disobedience by Fernando Alonso.


Anatomy of an epidemic, Robert Whitaker in Spanish!

History, science, and long-term effects of psychiatric drugs, from Robert Whitaker

History, science, and long-term effects of psychiatric drugs, from Robert Whitaker

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Will Hall and Robert Whittaker


Austerity, corruption and mental health, by Will Hall


Ossyane Kjayyam and Sascha Altman DuBrul.

Don Quixote in the era of the neurodiversity, by Angel Martinez hernáez

Don Quixote in the era of the neurodiversity, by Angel Martinez hernáez

Asun Pie Balaguer proccommunication of body and health.

Asun Pie Balaguer proccommunication of body and health.

Bhargavi Davar, from India, about listening to voices and culture.

Bhargavi Davar, from India, about listening to voices and culture.

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Bhargavi Davar. Bapu Trust

There were many workshops held over the two days

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Will Hall, Psychiatric medication: the harm reduction approach

Ivan Barry: Voices, visions, mystics and muses.

Ivan Barry: Voices, visions, mystics and muses.

Carina Håkansson Ute Maria Kraemer and in the fourth plenary session.

Carina Håkansson Ute Maria Kraemer and in the fourth plenary session.

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Ute Maria Kraemer: From the maze of psychological irrelevance to transgenerational justice


Paul Baker: working together professionals, voice hearers, family and community


Workshop on the radio as a tool of emancipation, with Radio Nikosia and Radio Prometea (CUAC FM)

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Workshop on the radio as a tool of emancipation, with Radio Nikosia and Radio Prometea (CUAC FM)


Pino Pini, of the Italian network


The companions of the Xarxa de GAM formada per persones Psiquiatritzades on groups of mutual support and the politicization of unrest

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Davar: voice-hearing experiences are often a way of life in many Asian cultures

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You can see the full programme here.

The organisers of the Congress received a standing ovation and there was a handover to the organisers of the 8th World Hearing voices Congress to be held in Paris in October 2016

Message from Entrvoces

“Entrevoces (Intervoice’s name in Spain) wants to thank all those who have made possible the 7th World Hearing Voices Congress. All without exception: participants, speakers, volunteers,… This has been a unique experience which has a value that now we can’t imagine . All nerves remain running high on emotions. Sharing of experiences and knowledges , meeting between peers and the certainty that you can watch and listen to alternative ways to the dominant vision, that widens the horizon. An horizon that has remained for too long closed.

We are aware that there is still everything to be made, but we also have the confidence in the idea that the road passes through making connections and built up community.

We will walk slow, but we will go far.

P.S.: We expect to have prepared and to have ready to share most of the talks and workshops’ recordings by next Spring (for free). We are still going to use social networks for some time. So, we will make an announcement about it.

We will see you in the next World Hearing Voices Congress…

In Paris October 2016!”

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Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 09.11.42 The Assembly Entrevoces, organizers of ‪#‎hearingvoices7th‬

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