Hidden Demons: A Personal Account of Hearing Voices and the Alternative of the Hearing Voices Movement Dr. Benjamin Gray Academic Dr B.G. recalls his experiences of dealing with voices that other people could not hear and outlines the alternative of the hearing voices movement. Schizophrenia Bulletin (2008) 34 (6): 1006-1007.
doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbn099, August 9, 2008
Psychologist’s non-drug approach provokes reaction storm A non-drug therapy used by a clinical psychologist when working with a voice-hearing client has provoked a storm of mixed reactions. Psychminded (UK), 1st May 2008
The Doctor Who Hears Voices Rufus May is a maverick psychologist. He believes there is no such thing as schizophrenia, that medication can destroy lives and that there’s nothing wrong with hearing voices. Rufus is an authority on the subject. He was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia aged 18. In this powerful and thought-provoking film, BAFTA-award winning director Leo Regan, takes a challenging look at how society deals with mental illness, using an innovative mix of contemporaneous documentary footage and dramatised scenes. To protect her anonymity, Ruth is played by BAFTA-nominated actress Ruth Wilson and some details have been changed. With figures suggesting as many as one in four people suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives, the film prompts the question, how far can people who hear voices also continue to live a normal life? Channel4.com (UK) 18th April 2008
A dialogue with myself When Ruth began hearing voices, she turned to a controversial drug-free therapy programme. Now, her story is told in a powerful TV film. Independent (UK), 15th April 2008
I talk back to the voices in my head I heard a speaker talk about an approach advocated by growing numbers of mental health professionals that involves people engaging with the voices inside their head. He was from the Hearing Voices Network and I agreed to visit him. He said I should be frank and uncompromising with the voices. If they told me to self-harm, I should just say no. “If anyone else told you to put your finger in the fire, you wouldn’t, so why act on what they say?” he said. He added that if I wanted to know why they were there, I should ask them, and if I wanted them to go away, I should tell them. It was so simple, but it made so much sense.
I took his advice, questioning them, challenging them and even cutting them off if I didn’t have time to talk to them. I’d say things like, “I’m watching TV now, I’ll talk to you later” or “Why exactly do you think I deserve it when bad things happen to me? You can’t answer that, can you?” Sometimes I’d do it in my head; other times out loud. I began to recognise the voices as representing the negative feelings I had about myself, and that alone helped me feel less frightened of them. It’s not that they aren’t real, but they ceased to have the power over me they did. I began to realise they couldn’t carry out their threats.
Now they bother me a lot less and, when they do, I’m in control of the conversations. I’ll still talk out loud to them if I feel like it, even if I’m on the bus or in the street. I get some funny looks, but I don’t mind. Recently another voice appeared, but this one is positive and happy, sounding like me as a young teenager. He’s mischievous, but funny, and I quite enjoy chatting with him.
I’m off medication now and have been discharged from mental health services. I’ve got my own place and have a girlfriend, and I train nurses and mental health staff in helping others to engage with their voices. The fact that I can speak with genuine understanding means I usually have a captive audience. I also work with people who hear voices, getting them to understand the benefits of talking back. I’ve learned that my voices themselves are not a problem. It’s my relationship with them that’s important. Facing them and working with them has changed my life and made me feel optimistic about it instead of scared. The Guardian (UK), 4th April 2009
The mad doctor: The extraordinary story of Dr Rufus May. The former psychiatric patient At the age of 18, Rufus May was diagnosed as an incurable schizophrenic and locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Now, he is a respected psychologist and a passionate campaigner on mental health issues. He is also the guest editor of this special issue. Here, he tells his extraordinary tale. Independent (UK), 18th March 2008
The Listening Cure Hearing Voices Network seeks to recast the phenomenon as a normal experience, encouraging members to maintain a dialogue with their voices so they can live peacefully with and even appreciate their presence. Time/CNN (USA), 21st February 2008
The terrifying ordeal of a brilliant student who started hearing voices and then fell into the abyss of insanity We talked about the voices and my psychiatrist suggested I stop seeing them as a symptom of mental illness. “I often wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t found a psychiatrist who understood how to treat me.” Feature article about Eleanor Longden. Daily Mail (UK), 7th February 2008
UEL throws spotlight on ‘hearing voices’ The fascinating experiences of people who hear voices will come under the spotlight at a special one-day conference to be held at the University of East London Newham Recorder (UK), 12th January 2008