What to say to the inner voice Daniel B. Smiths fascinating new book, Muses, Madmen and Prophets: Rethinking the History of Science and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination. CBC News (USA), December 27th, 2007
Hear Voices? It May Be an Ad An A&E Billboard ‘Whispers’ a Spooky Message Audible Only in Your Head in Push to Promote Its New ‘Paranormal’ Program. New Yorker Alison Wilson was walking down Prince Street in SoHo last week when she heard a woman’s voice right in her ear asking, “Who’s there? Who’s there?” She looked around to find no one in her immediate surroundings. Then the voice said, “It’s not your imagination.” No, he’s not crazy: Our intrepid reporter Andrew Hampp ventures to SoHo to hear for himself the technology that has New Yorkers ‘freaked out’ and A&E buzzing.
Indeed it isn’t. It’s an ad for “Paranormal State,” a ghost-themed series premiering on A&E this week. The billboard uses technology manufactured by Holosonic that transmits an “audio spotlight” from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium. The technology, ideal for museums and libraries or environments that require a quiet atmosphere for isolated audio slideshows, has rarely been used on such a scale before. For random passersby and residents who have to walk unwittingly through the area where the voice will penetrate their inner peace, it’s another story.
Ms. Wilson, a New York-based stylist, said she expected the voice inside her head to be some type of creative project but could see how others might perceive it differently, particularly on a late-night stroll home. “I might be a little freaked out, and I wouldn’t necessarily think it’s coming from that billboard,” she said. Ad Age (USA), 10th December 2007
Muddy Thinking More and more people like Peter Bullimore are turning their backs on the label of schizophrenia and its conventional treatments in an attempt to reclaim their lives. The Guardian (UK), 9th November 2007
‘Schizophrenic’ label doubles the torture felt by sufferers Peter Bullimore still hears aggressive voices inside his head, but he has rejected the stigmatising label of “schizophrenia” and is now campaigning for it to be discarded. The New Zealand Herald (NZ), 19th November 2007
Voices in the head ‘are normal’ Hearing voices in your head is so common that it is normal, psychologists believe. Dutch findings suggest one in 25 people regularly hears voices. Contrary to traditional belief, hearing voices is not necessarily a symptom of mental illness, UK researchers at Manchester University say. Indeed, many who hear voices do not seek help and say the voices have a positive impact on their lives, comforting or inspiring them. BBC News (UK), 18th September, 2006
‘I learned to live with voices’ Brian, 38 and from Manchester, hears voices in his head.Sometimes they tell him that he is dirty. At other times they taunt him, calling him worthless and evil. When he hears them, he knows there is nobody there, but they sound as clear as you or me speaking to him. “There is not anything abnormal about admitting that you are hearing voices.” Through his work with the Hearing Voices Network, Brian says he has met many other people who hear voices in their head. BBC News (UK), 18th September, 2006
The woman who ignores her voices Her method of coping is to dampen the voices with medication and refuse to engage – except, with extraordinary eloquence, in the work she does to help other people understand. The Guardian (UK), 8th September 2007
Woman hears voices with a speech impediment Researchers claim a Swiss woman who fell off her bicycle has yielded a unique insight into how auditory hallucinations are generated. New Scientist magazine (UK), 20th August 2007
Botschaften aus der anderen Welt Stimmenhören ist für Justiz und Psychiatrie Symptom für eine Psychose. Oft ist es das tatsächlich. Aber es gibt auch Stimmenhörer, die noch nie in der Psychiatrie waren und sich mit ihren Stimmen arrangiert haben. Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany), 17th July 2007
Exploring how deaf people ‘hear’ voice-hallucinations A new UCL study, published in the July 2007 issue of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, systematically explores the perceptual characteristics of voice hallucinations in deaf people with schizophrenia for the first time. UCL’s Dr Joanna Atkinson (Deafness, Cognition & Language Centre) has generated data from 27 deaf participants with experience of voice hallucinations, to try to determine how they experience the hallucinations, depending on the individual’s hearing loss and language background.
Earlier research had suggested that born-profoundly deaf people might experience true auditory hallucinations. However, the collection and interpretation of data had relied on non-native signers or hearing researchers using sign language interpreters. This study breaks new ground by using more ecologically valid methodology to confirm that true auditory hallucinations were confined to deaf individuals who are some point in their lives had experienced hearing.
Dr Atkinson, who is herself a deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user, aimed to elucidate the variety of voice hallucination perceived by deaf people: “Particular attention was paid to deconstructing concepts that might be misconstrued as truly auditory to those unfamiliar with the subtleties of BSL and deaf conceptualisations of sound-based phenomena. Deaf people frequently use signs such as ‘heard’, ‘shout’, ‘voices’ and ‘talk’ without necessarily bestowing the auditory qualities assumed in English. Concepts such as ‘loud’ may be understood as being highly intrusive and difficult to ignore rather than as high auditory volume. Therefore, it was imperative that questions about auditory phenomena were appraised to create an accurate picture of their voice hallucinations.” UCL NEWS (UK), 3rd July 2007
Trauma care For over 25 years, Harvard psychiatrists have helped and studied victims of many of the world’s most devastating events. What they found is more heartening than you might think. Boston Globe (USA), 2nd July 2007
Hidden demons Academic Benjamin Gray recalls his experiences of dealing with voices that other people could not hear. It is perhaps ironic that in over 10 years as an academic and researcher in the field of mental health, I never appreciated the suffering of people with schizophrenia and mental illness until I had a nervous breakdown that kept me under section in a psychiatric acute unit for 12 months. The Guardian (UK), 15th June 2007
Is ‘voice-hearing’ an act of lunacy, or are we ignorant to the plight of the sufferers? This week’s tragic case of a father in London attacking his young daughter has brought people who ‘hear voices’ into the spotlight. Belfast Telegraph (UK), 7th June 2007
Glad to be Mad The links are clear between insanity and creative genius, suggesting better ways might be found to help sufferers of mental disorders. New Zealand Herald (NZ), May 14th 2007
Glad to be ‘mad’? People with mental illness have long been the targets of offensive and disrespectful language. But are official medical terms such as ‘bipolar’ really any better than ‘bonkers’ or ‘bananas’, asks former psychiatric nurse Jo Brand The Guardian (UK), 8th May 2007
Mind over medicine Mental health professionals should look beyond the medicalisation of psychosis and recognise the relevance of traumatic life events. The Guardian (UK), 11th May 2007
Hearing voices doesn’t mean you’re mentally ill Psychologists at Bangor University are planning to delve into the psyches of people who hear voices, but are not mentally ill. icwales, May 2 (UK), 2007
Do you hear what I hear?: Psychology undertakes some new directions Daniel B. Smith’s exploration of a grassroots British organization called the Hearing Voices Network is a mind-blowing deconstruction of our notions of normality. Creative Loafing Atlanta (USA), 4th April 2007
FROM age 13, Daniel Smith’s father heard voices — inner instructions to move a glass across the table or to use this subway turnstile rather than that one. The strain of fighting the voices in secret, Smith believes, led to the psychotic depression his father suffered in his late 30s. The father responded with rage when he later learned that his own father had also heard voices, ones that advised on discards at gin or (less correctly) on bets at the track. What pain could have been avoided if only it had been clear that such voices are not necessarily signals of mental illness.
Smith hopes to make that truth widely known. When people read about “inner voices,” they may think of those commanding a disturbed patient to commit a violent act. But auditory hallucination is common. In one survey, 39 percent of healthy volunteers said they had heard their own thoughts aloud. Another survey found that 13 percent of widows and widowers heard their lost spouse’s voice. In surveys of healthy people, 3 percent or more report a history of vivid auditory hallucination; most do not think the experience calls for treatment. (MUSES, MADMEN, AND PROPHETS: Rethinking the History, Science, and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination. By Daniel B. Smith). New York Times (USA), 8th April 2007
Can hearing voices be a good thing? Local people urged to come forward Psychologists at The University of Manchester are seeking more volunteers for their research into hearing voices, and why some people consider it a positive experience while others find it distressing. Manchester University (UK), 3rd April 2007
Son attempts to reconcile a father’s war within Smith focuses less on his father’s experience of his voices and more on his notion that his father suffered from a pathologizing of voice-hearing in Western culture. To build his case, Smith reflects on earlier eras when voice-hearing was considered both real and powerful. San Francisco Chronicle (USA), 02/04/2007
Voices carry The message and mystery of auditory hallucinations, from Moses to modern times. Boston Globe (USA), 25th March 2007
Can You Live With the Voices in Your Head? In depth article about hearing voices and the development of the hearing voices movement by Daniel B. Smith from New York, USA. “The meeting that I attended in London is one of dozens like it affiliated with a small but influential grass-roots organization known as Hearing Voices Network. Based in Manchester, Hearing Voices Network (H.V.N.) has since its inception, in 1991, developed a range of services related to the phenomenon known as auditory hallucination: a hot line for people who suffer from the experience, a series of educational workshops for mental-health professionals and 170 support groups across Britain, with more in development. H.V.N., which openly challenges the standard psychiatric relationship of expert physician and psychotic patient, might be said to take the consumer movement in mental health care to its logical endpoint. Although H.V.N. groups meet in a variety of settings — from psychiatric wards to churches to the organization’s headquarters — all must be run by, or there must be active plans for them to be run by, voice-hearers themselves. What’s more, H.V.N. groups must accept all interpretations of auditory hallucinations as equally valid. If an individual comes to a group claiming that he is hearing the voice of the queen of England, and he finds this belief useful, no attempt is made to divest him of it, but rather to figure out what it means to him.” New York Times (USA), 25th March 2007
Mental health special edition: Guest editor, Rufus May, Mental health special edition edited by guest editor, Rufus May, mental health activist and INTERVOICE member. The Independent on Sunday (UK), 18th March 2007
Is there a link between madness and creativity? Many illustrious thinkers and poets, including Shakespeare, have believed that genius is only a step away from insanity. John Walsh goes in search of evidence in our contemporary culture. Independent on Sunday (UK), 18th March 2007
In Your Head: Hearing Voices People who hear voices in their heads don’t always need psychiatric help. Sometimes the voices within can guide you in everyday life. Psychology Today (UK), 5th March 2007
How I tamed the voices in my head When Eleanor Longden began hearing things, she soon found herself drugged, sectioned and labelled schizophrenic. Then a psychiatrist taught her how to talk back. The Independent (UK), 6th March 2007
The harmful concept of Schizophrenia Marius Romme and Mervyn Morris outline their suggestions for a more helpful and cause-related alternative to the harmful concept of schizophrenia. Mental Health Nursing (UK), 7 – 11 March 2007
Voices in your head? You may not be crazy Four per cent of people in the UK are said to hear voices. A new trial could help them. The Times (UK), 23rd January 2007
In Your Head: Hearing Voices People who hear voices in their heads don’t always need psychiatric help. Sometimes the voices within can guide you in everyday life.
Despite their association with mental illness, auditory hallucinations don’t always torment those who hear them. In fact, only one out of every three so-called “voice hearers” requires psychiatric help. The other two don’t experience difficulties and may even consider their voices supportive or inspiring.
“My voices know me better than anyone else, and they also protect and comfort me,” says Jacqui Dillon, head of a London support group for voice hearers. She and other group members report that voices can alert them to oncoming cars and suspicious passersby, provide encouragement during stressful times, and offer reminders to pick things up at the grocery store.
Whether they threaten or soothe, auditory hallucinations usually begin after trauma: Seventy percent of people who hear voices first detect them following physical or sexual abuse, an accident, or the loss of a loved one. “The emotion they feel about their trauma complicates how they interpret the voices,” says Sara Tai, a psychologist at the University of Manchester in England who studies why some hallucinators thrive while others end up in psychiatric care. Typically, the greater the trauma, the more likely voices will sound threatening. Psychology Today, 1st January, 2007
Hearing Voices Not only schizophrenics experience auditory hallucinations. Many people who are not mentally ill sometimes hear claps, whistles, buzzing, voices or even music in their heads. Perhaps no other symptom is as instantly associated with insanity–some 70 percent of schizophrenics hear voices that regularly interrupt their thoughts, as do 15 percent of those who have mood disorders–but auditory hallucinations are not necessarily a sign of mental illness. Scientific American, January 2007/December 2006