Media 2018

2018 (65 items)


August

What I learned when I met a real life exorcist She’s been suffering from delusions and hearing voices for years. Now though, she seems convinced the exorcism has cured her….. Candela, a 17-year-old schoolgirl, whose parents decided to take to see the Padre. When I met her in the church, she was in tears. Her mother explained: “She cuts herself, hears voices […] we went to a psychiatric clinic but […] I don’t want my daughter in that place.” Source: BBC News (UK), 23rd August 2018

Mind-reading technology was once part of a dystopian future. Now it exists First, note that we are on the verge of powerful mind reading technologies. Second, argue the state will use these in devious ways. Third, claim citizens will be powerless to stop this because the law is not ready. Finally, call for immediate action to prevent the government from reading our minds. If you can reference George Orwell or Philip K Dick, all the better.Five years ago, such cynicism was justified. But things have changed. We are no longer “on the verge” of mind-reading technologies. We have them. We need not worry if they will be used in devious ways. They have. It is not only the government we need fear. It is private companies too. This became clear in the extended fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a firm harvested Facebook data to target users with personalised political ads based on their psychological profile. Source: New Statesman (UK), 20th August 2018

People with schizophrenia reveal what voices in their heads say A group of Australians have revealed the harsh reality of living with schizophrenia and the psychological toll that hearing disembodied voices can have. On tonight’s episode of ABC’s You Can’t Ask That, a group of Australians with schizophrenia tackle these myths and reveal the an illness affects people in all kinds of ways. Some of the common misconceptions include believing everyone with schizophrenia has voices in their heads telling them to hurt people, or that they are all paranoid the government is out to get them. On tonight’s episode of ABC’s You Can’t Ask That, a group of Australians with schizophrenia tackle these myths and reveal the an illness affects people in all kinds of ways. Source: news.com.au (Australia), 16th August 2018

Living with Voices: The voice made me slash my own skull and then told me I’d murdered someone’ – schizophrenia sufferers reveal what the voices in their heads are really saying to them One in ten people hear voices that nobody else can and, for some sufferers, the consequences can be extreme. When Kyle came round, he was drenched in blood – and a voice whispered in his right ear: “You just killed a man.” But the truth is that Kyle is no killer, the blood splattered all over his clothes was his own, and the voice telling him he was a murderer was actually in his head.Source: The Sun (UK), 15th August 2018

Dear David Coleman: ‘My daughter hears voices – usually it’s saying ‘Get out” My 12-year-old daughter has been hearing voices. Usually it’s a little girl’s high voice saying “Get out”. My daughter suffers from dysautonomia/POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and mitochondrial dysfunction. She was very sick for a long while, but is much better now. Her older brother also got Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during her illness which, while now in remission, was traumatic for the whole family. My daughter always tried to be the positive one to carry the family through. Why is she now hearing voices? Source: Independent (Ireland), 14th August 2018

Health and Care awards: Support Staff of the year sponsored by Hearing Voices Cymru Hope, healing, resilience and community – these are the focus of Hearing Voices Cymru, an organisation which supports people who hear voices in Wales, and the latest sponsor of the Western Telegraph’s Health and Care awards. The support network operates across Wales, with support from other charities.In Pembrokeshire it works alongside Mind Pembrokeshire to offer support to those who hear voices which others cannot. The network is sponsoring the Support Staff of the Year award at the Western Telegraph’s Health and Care awards this year. Source: Western Telegraph (Wales), 13th August 2018

Understanding Voices: Family and Friends Online Survey Hearing the Voice has been working with members of the voice-hearing community to develop Understanding Voices – a new web resource to help people find clear, balanced and comprehensive information about voice-hearing. Over the past ten months, we’ve run online surveys, and consultation events and workshops in London, Bradford, Manchester and the North East, in order to design a site that is as useful as possible. These contributions have played an invaluable role in the development of Understanding Voices, and we want to thank you for all your hard work so far.As part of the next step for Understanding Voices, we’d like to invite the friends and family members of voice-hearers to complete our latest online survey. The questions themselves arose through the consultation process, as a result of comments made by participants. Your answers will allow us to further refine Understanding Voices, and provide clear and accessible information for both voice-hearers and supporters like you. The survey can be found here.  Source: Hearing the Voices (UK), 8th August 2018

Pot smoking by parents tied to risk of psychotic episodes in kids Cannabis use by mothers or fathers during pregnancy, or even only before pregnancy, is associated with an increased risk of psychotic-like episodes in their children, a Dutch study suggests. Because pot use by mothers and fathers carried similar risk, and a mother’s use before pregnancy had the same effect as use during pregnancy, the study team speculates that parental pot use is likely a marker for genetic and environmental vulnerability to psychotic experiences rather than a cause, and could be useful for screening kids at risk for psychosis later in life. Source: Reuters Health (UK), 2nd August 2018

Out of prison, hearing voices and on the street – Margate dad pleads for someone ‘to listen’ A county councillor from Thanet is highlighting a breakdown of care for ex-prisoners after an appeal from a woman desperate to find help for her brother. Cllr Emma Dawson has taken on the case of a 32-year-old Margate man who is currently sleeping rough and is suffering from hearing voices and experiencing volatile emotions and delusions. The man, who has asked not to be named to protect his children, served five months in Elmley prison last year for driving offences and was housed in the Glenwood Hotel after his release with the length of his stay being extended during the severe weather. But when that placement came to an end after Christmas he was left with nowhere to go. His sister Cheryl says he resorted to sofa surfing but his behaviour, induced by hearing voices and seeing things, has led to people being unable to continue to have him in their homes. Last month he went to St Martin’s Hospital in Canterbury for mental health help but was released after four days and is now homeless. Source: The Isle of Thanet News (UK), 2nd August 2018

People living with schizophrenia could soon get help from an app There’s a sound detector function, which displays sound waves like an oscilloscope, to help people deal with another common symptom of schizophrenia – auditory hallucinations, or hearing voices. “Especially when a person is less well and is experiencing this hallucination, it sounds like and it feels like somebody is saying something just as you’re hearing me talk,” said Kidd. “For many people unfortunately, the voices they hear, and it can be more than one voice, more than one personality coming through, it can be disturbing, threatening, yelling, so kind of scary.” Having a sound detector can help people determine whether what they’re hearing is a voice in their head or just someone in the apartment next door. “That helps a person determine what they should do in response to it,” he said, such as whether they need to turn to coping strategies for dealing with voices. People are also asked daily to rate their mental health and make notes of any issues they’re experiencing. This can be used to generate a report for health care providers. Source: Global News (Canada), 1st August 2018


July

A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate Jack Cowan of the University of Chicago set out to reproduce those hallucinatory form constants mathematically, in the belief that they could provide clues to the brain’s circuitry. In a seminal 1979 paper, Cowan and his graduate student Bard Ermentrout reported that the electrical activity of neurons in the first layer of the visual cortex could be directly translated into the geometric shapes people typically see when under the influence of psychedelics. “The math of the way the cortex is wired, it produces only these kinds of patterns,” Cowan explained recently. In that sense, what we see when we hallucinate reflects the architecture of the brain’s neural network. Source: Quanta Magazine (USA), 30th July 2018

Are hallucinations a disease? They may be a symptom, but they are not necessarily harmful The concept that hallucinations were not a disease per se but a “symptom” of different diseases developed in the 19th century after what one leading psychiatrist called a “long and barren” debate. Although hallucinations are now regarded as symptomatic of a number of disorders, they are not themselves necessarily harmful. As a symptom, they can indicate that the brain is not functioning properly, which may lead to other harmful symptoms, but hallucinations are not categorically good or bad. Source: Massive Science (USA), 27th July 2018

Healing From Schizophrenia I could go to the shop and in the car some red light would start to blink. This would send me into panic, because I knew it was a message from the spirits that they were coming to get me. If I only managed to act normal, to fool them that I didn’t see them and wasn’t afraid… then maybe I would make it. While driving my car to the shop, and driving through fields with no houses or people, I was suddenly taken over by horror: everybody had died, the world didn’t really exist, I would be stuck in this place alone, forever. I tried to handle the situation by strictly focusing on where I was going, “just drive, just drive.” At the shop I saw some of my neighbours, and while talking with them, I wasn’t sure whether they were dead or alive, whether they were just some evil spirits trying to trick me. My life depended on being able to just act normal, to not show them I knew them. If only I could talk normally so that nobody noticed anything, I would survive. The shop was five minutes away from my home, but I would lose track of time. It would feel like it took a whole day to go to the shop and back. I later wrote to my mentor and meditation teacher: “To some people it is just that they pop to the shop and back, but for me, it’s like climbing Mount Everest. I should try to understand that people don’t know how hard it is. They’ve never had to climb that mountain. They don’t even know such a mountain exists.” Source: Mad in America (USA), 25th July 2018

Winnipeg police test training app to de-escalate mental health crises Winnipeg police are using a new piece of equipment to help arm its officers with more knowledge and understanding to better resolve escalating mental health situations. SimVoice is a program to help police experience what it’s like to hear voices in your head, similar to what someone who suffers from schizophrenia might deal with. “The SimVoice recreates and allows our officers to not only to experience what it’s like to talk to someone experiencing schizophrenia but also to recreate that for that officer and allow them to understand even more now when it’s a real life situation,” Ptrl. Sgt. Colin Anderson said. Source: Global News (Canada), 24th July 2018

Jonny Benjamin: ‘I’d completely given up…then a stranger saved me’  It’s a story that begins in childhood, when even before Jonny had started primary school he had experienced his first hallucinations. One of his earliest triggers was watching the otherwise benign film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, a children’s story about a big, friendly giant. “I remember being in bed and seeing what I thought was the BFG – and hearing things. I was truly scared, but I didn’t communicate what was going on. Instead, I began lashing out. My behaviour began to change, because I was frustrated.” He recalls how he purposely broke his mother’s new jewellery just before his brother’s barmitzvah and slammed his father’s hand in a door. Jonny even secretly fed an imaginary Pooh Bear honey in the kitchen, “covering the room in a sticky mess”. Source: Jewish News (UK), 19th July 2018

From apps to avatars, new tools for taking control of your mental health After a friend’s suicide last year, Zach Schleien sought some answers through an online discussion forum. He was riveted by the people who shared their pain, such as the 19-year-old woman who never left her room or the man with schizophrenia trying to manage the warring voices in his head. Schleien started wondering if there was something he could do to help alleviate such suffering. His solution turned out to be simpler than he expected: A Slack channel, a private online community for people in life-or-death struggles reaching out in real time to save one another. Schleien, who works in business technology in New Jersey, called the channel 18percent for the 18 percent of the U.S. population living with mental illness. Launched this year by a nonprofit group that Schleien founded with David Markovich, an Internet marketing consultant, the channel has about 150 members who have sent more than 11,000 messages. Source: Washington Post (USA) 18th July 2018

New Research Suggests Brain Abnormalities in ‘Schizophrenia’ May Result From Antipsychotics Study finds that reduced cortical thickness and brain surface area associated with ‘schizophrenia’ may result from antipsychotic drug use. A new study published in Biological Psychiatry finds that the reduced cortical thickness and brain surface area are correlated with a schizophrenia diagnosis but that these differences may be explained by the widespread use of antipsychotic medications. The researchers report that “effect sizes were two to three times larger in individuals receiving antipsychotic medication relative to unmedicated individuals.” In fact, the researchers found that participants with a schizophrenia diagnosis, who were unmedicated, were not significantly different from healthy control subjects regarding cortical thickness. Source: Mad in America (USA), 17th July 2018

Increasing access to psychological treatments for mental illness Psychological treatments for patients with psychosis face many challenges, because access to the treatments can be restricted2 and the treatment might generate only small effects. Symptom-specific treatments targeting either paranoia or auditory hallucinations are generating promising outcomes that might increase effect sizes, but their delivery in traditional face-to-face formats by expert therapists will do little to increase access (even when technology is utilised, such as in AVATAR therapy). VR is a promising method for delivering psychological treatments to patients with psychosis, but can a fully automated delivery system increase access? And are greater effects also possible because of the virtual exposure to everyday situations that are experienced as threatening? As we consider these possibilities, at least two caveats can be held in mind. Source: The Lancet (UK), 11th July 2018

Would you let your therapist read all your texts?  Beiwe is one of a handful of apps doctors are using to passively monitor and study patients. What does it change? From the moment he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep, Robert Smith* keeps a digital remote in his pocket. The remote keeps a tally: each time he presses the button, it updates a daily count and uploads it to an online dashboard . Smith, a 29-year old engineer living in Dover, New Hampshire, was diagnosed with schizophrenia six years ago. He uses the remote to keep track of his auditory hallucinations — how many he hears every day, and at what times. “People at work ask me, ‘What is it like?’” said Smith, referring to his hallucinations. “And I say, ‘Imagine you’re in your car, and you set your radio to scan, and so it’s going through the stations — it’s kind of annoying. It’s like having your radio scan in your brain.’” Every time he visits his psychiatrist, Smith brings graphs documenting the hallucinations. In one graph that kept track of how many he had without medication — which Smith published in the journal JMIR Mental Health— his daily count hovered between 150 to 200. The rate steadily decreased to 50 as he went up on his dose of the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole. Documenting an objective count of his symptoms, he said, helped him and his doctor make informed decisions about treatment. Source: The Outline (USA), 3rd July 2018


June

A medical mystery: What is causing the voices in Tiffany’s head? Tiffany Baker was strolling through The Happiest Place on Earth with her family when the voices invaded her brain. In an instant, she pivoted from enjoying Disney World with her parents and her younger brother to screaming, “I’m hearing voices!” in a panic. Source: Houston Chronicle (USA), 28th June 2018

I’ll Keep Talking About My Psychosis, Whether It’s Relatable Or Not The stigma attached to psychosis left me paralysed with fear and terrified for over a decade before I sought out help and support. I’m not afraid anymore. I suffer from psychosis. I have auditory hallucinations, so I hear voices, either when I’m manic or depressed. It took me a long time, over a decade in fact, to face up to this reality. I was in denial that I heard voices, and convinced myself it was something everyone experienced. Now, I’m open about my experiences. I’ll talk to family and friends about it, and I can even joke about some of the stranger sounds and voices I’ve heard. I have shared my story online countless times.  Source: Huffington Post (UK), 27th June 2018

With the Voices Heard Choir, singers with serious mental illness tell their story This new singing group needed a name. Many of the choir’s members have schizophrenia and regularly experience auditory hallucinations. The name they selected was a nod to that reality — with a clear acknowledgment of the group’s larger mission. “The choir members chose their own name,” Wenszell said. “They picked Voices Heard because it is a pun on the expression ‘hearing voices,’ but they also liked the name because it explains how they want their audiences to hear what they have to say. They want to use their music to deliver a message.” Source: Minn Post (USA), 25th June 2018

Learning to Speak Psychotic One of the biggest barriers that people who are “psychotic” face is one of communication: other people often have trouble understanding what they’re talking about. The way that so-called “psychotics” describe their experience (their actual language) and their ideas are simply foreign to most people, and this lack of clear communication is what gets “psychotics” labelled as “psychotic” in the first place, and thus it leads to a breakdown between the “psychotic” and the rest of society. This is a loss to both groups. Source: Mad in America (USA), 16th June 2018

Response to ‘Aligning Computational Psychiatry to the Hearing Voices Movement’ I welcome the paper’s clearly stated intention to draw on the Hearing Voices Network’s (HVN) focus on sense-making. One of the great achievements of HVN has been to create spaces which nurture diverse sense-making: moving the experience of voice-hearing out of an exclusively medical domain, and repositioning it from a meaningless symptom of schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder, to an experience full of richness, possibility and meaning. In the Hearing Voices ethos, all sense-making is heard and welcome. Voices can be understood as spiritual guides or demons, or deeply linked to past trauma or adversity, or as a sign of neuro-diversity- and many explanations in between and beyond. Source: Hearing the Voice (UK), 16th June 2018

Global Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs Market Growth Expected to be Driven by Increasing Incidence of Psychosis and Other Related Diseases Across the Globe Increasing incidence of psychotic disorders and presence of large patient pool in developed and in some developing economies are major factors driving adoption of antipsychotic drugs and in turn fueling growth of the global atypical antipsychotic drugs market. Source: The Agriculture News (UK), 4th June 2018

Aligning Computational Psychiatry With the Hearing Voices Movement: Hearing Their Voices Established approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of psychosis face a growing challenge. Critical psychiatry demands that we put patient rights, autonomy, and recovery at the forefront of treatment. It downplays the role of the brain in etiology and thus the efficacy of pharmacological treatments, which critical psychiatrists argue do more harm than good. This may be dismissed out of hand by the contemporary psychiatrist: while there are adverse effects of antipsychotic use, these drugs outperform placebos in controlled clinical trials—a bar that is not met by cognitive therapies. However, some critical psychiatry views find empirical support: psychotic symptoms worsen in the context of social isolation, they are sensitive to the emotionality expressed by family members, and they are statistically associated with trauma. Source: JAMA (UK), June 2018


May

Learning to live with hearing voices Emily Knoll discusses the therapeutic interventions that have helped her come to terms with hearing voices. It was after undergoing spinal surgery, and when I felt that I was going down a black hole with my doctorate, that I began to hear distressing voices that seemed to come from outside my head. I was embarrassed by the things that the voices were saying to me, so I didn’t tell anyone. I also thought that if I told a doctor, I would be sent to a psychiatric hospital. So, instead of seeking help, I dropped out of university. Two years later I experienced what I now understand to have been a psychotic breakdown. Sometimes it felt as if two men and a spiteful woman were actually there, in my room. I held my breath and listened. “Emily is waiting for us to disappear,” said the woman cruelly. “We’re not going away,” the man with the brittle voice replied. I started to play with their words in my head, wondering what they meant by what they had said. Would they really go? I had no idea. Source: BMJ 2018 (UK) 31st May 2018

Bristol woman who hears voices and suffers from psychosis explains how she tried to tackle the stigma A Bristol woman who suffers from psychosis and hears voices has spoken of her experience of mental health stigma. Claire, who has asked not to be identified, said she found it hard to come to terms with her condition. The 43-year-old has decided to help other people by taking part in a clinical research trial aimed at measuring the distress of people that hear voices. Source: Bristol Live (UK), 22nd May 2018

‘Believing me is crucial’: How to talk to somebody who is hearing voices There’s definitely a lack of understanding around the idea of psychosis. In fact, the word itself carries certain connotations that many find unhelpful and often distressing. But we don’t have to use that word if it doesn’t seem to fit with the experience that friends or loved ones are going through. And we don’t have to feel frightened if somebody we know is hearing voices. Please stop telling me I ‘don’t need’ to take my mental health medication Hearing voices can be terrifying for people. But it isn’t always so. And if the person experiencing the voice, vision, belief or feeling isn’t terrified, then why on earth should anyone else be scared? Source: Metro News (UK), 20th May 2018

A Video Game to Create Empathy Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is more than just a video game. The adult fantasy game provides a first-hand view of psychosis and the symptoms its patients often experience. Pharmacists who enjoy video games should check it out. Those who are not gamers should observe someone else playing it, if they get the chance.The game shows how psychosis works, and it creates empathy for those who suffer from this mental disorder.The first time I encountered a patient with psychosis, the behavior was so erratic that it shook me. Visibly shaken, I walked away feeling that I never wanted to talk to the person again. This reaction is normal because our innate sense of self-preservation prompts us to avoid harmful situations. “What if this person hurts me?” is a natural question to ponder. It is tempting to push people with psychosis away because they can be erratic and unpredictable. After my initial experience with psychosis, I researched the condition in the media and did not find many examples of movies with a focus on psychosis. 12 Monkeys and The Shining are exaggerations of psychosis, but those hardly create a sense of empathy. I watched the movie Shutter Island to understand psychosis better. Admittedly, this did not help but only made me more worried about interactions with individuals with psychosis. When I discovered the video game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, I was amazed by the feelings of empathy I had for the character in the game. Source: Pharmacy Times (USA), 10th May 2018

‘Psychosis’: bending reality to see round corners – Paul Fletcher “Psychosis” is a term little understood, yet much misunderstood, much overused and much misused. And it scares the living crap out of our society, but it doesn’t have to. It’s a description – of an experience. One that’s more common than we pretend, more ordinary, and can be more useful. Source: Recovery Network Toronto (Canada), 11th May 2018


April

Compassion therapy for voice-hearing We all have different sides to ourselves. The angry self, the anxious self, the sad self … and then there’s the compassionate self. It’s not always easy to tap into compassion but it’s now being used as an important approach to therapy for voice hearing and psychosis. We head to a workshop which explores the power of cultivating compassion in those who hear voices, and in their therapists. Source: RN, ABC (Australia), 29th April 2018

Hellblade Psychosis Story Mirrored Mine We’ve got a great podcast coming up for you today. It’s about psychosis and the game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. We do delve deeply into psychosis and one man’s experience so if this is something close to you or you’re not feeling too good about it at the moment then just come back to us another time and we’ll see you soon. Hello and welcome to the BBC Ouch podcast. Now, it’s the game that started a lot of chatter, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. It’s picked up five Baftas, including Games Beyond Entertainment, amongst many other awards, and it’s won a lot of plaudits for the way it depicts psychosis. If you’ve not heard of it yet then it follows Nordic warrior Senua on an otherworldly quest to rescue the soul of her dead lover. She hears voices, some helpful, some harmful, and has hallucinations which to her are real but actually represent an episode of psychosis. Now, the gamers and experts all rate it, but how does it fare if you’ve experienced psychosis yourself?  Source: BBC News (UK), 27th April 2018

Emmerdale: when did Belle start hearing voices? Her mental health history explained Emmerdale’s Belle Dingle began hearing voices tonight as her family fell apart following her mum Lisa’s dramatic departure from the village, revisiting the long-running storyline of the character’s struggles with mental health that dates back to 2014. It’s been a little while since the focus was on this challenging chapter of Belle’s life, so as the troubled teen spirals into self-doubt and threatens to relapse having been blamed for Lisa leaving. Source: Radio Times (UK), 19th April 2018

Cutting-edge Advances Help Mute Voices in Schizophrenia Schizophrenia patients with auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) that have not responded to treatment may experience improvement with two cutting-edge techniques, new research shows. A study by Alexandre Dumais, MD, PhD, Institute Philippe Pinel of Montreal, Canada, included more than 50 schizophrenia patients with treatment-refractory AVH. The patients were randomly assigned either to undergo a computerized therapy in which the patients created an avatar of their tormentor before confronting it, or to standard cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Source: Medscape (USA), 12th April 2018

In new memoir, Judy Rebick reveals how childhood abuse led to mental health struggles Judy Rebick grew up in a time when it was almost universally expected of families to keep everything bad a secret. The theory being that the less said, the more likely it would go away. For Rebick, who through the 1980s and 1990s was one of Canada’s best-known women’s rights activists, that philosophy worked nicely for almost 40 years. But at age 45, just before she became president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women in 1990, she began hearing voices in her head, followed by the re-emergence of a repressed memory of sexual abuse by her father that began when she was five. In her new book, Heroes in my Head, the 72-year-old Rebick writes about her experience with clinical depression and Dissociative Identity Disorder. She spoke to the Globe about how therapy and her passion for activism helped her eventually say goodbye to the 11 “friends” that her subconscious created to help her cope with the long-buried trauma. Source: The Globe and Mail (Canada) 10th April 2018

Hearing voices but no one’s there? May be clairaudience
Dear Bonnie: I am hearing ringing in my ears and songs popping up in my head that seem to play over and over. I have even heard voices outside my head and have turned to see if anyone’s around, only to find no one. Am I going crazy? — Cindy
Dear Cindy: I assure you that you’re not going crazy! Clairaudience — sometimes called the gift of clear hearing — is when you can tune in to the spirit world and receive messages from up above by actually hearing voices or sounds. You may physically hear people speaking words or even full sentences, thoughts of those in the spirit world, or even a loved one’s voice. Many hear the voice of God or the angels. Music that you’re hearing may hold a secret or special message just for you. Bells and buzzing noises, or that voice inside your head that tells you to take another route and saves you from an accident, are all signs of being clairaudient. Sometimes you may even hear complete conversations, either upon waking or before going to sleep. Clairaudience is a great way to receive messages for you or others who might need some guidance or a loving message from the other side. You can build this psychic sense by paying attention to the noises around you, or even really listening to someone who is having a conversation with you. Our everyday lives can be so busy and our minds so full of thoughts about everything around us that we tend never to listen to that quiet little voice inside that is trying to guide us. Source: Sentinel & Enterprise (USA), 10th April 2018

There are no ‘schizophrenia genes’: here’s why There are no “schizophrenia genes”. The high heritability estimates reported in earlier quantitative genetic studies don’t rule out environmental influences, but have discouraged researchers from taking social causes seriously. But we now know that there are proven strong associations between psychosis and a range of social risk factors, such as exposure to impoverished and urban environments, migration, childhood traumas (sexual or physical abuse and bullying by peers), and recent adverse experiences in adulthood. So why does the genetic story about mental illness continue to appeal? Source: The Conversation (USA), 8th April 2018

Researchers develop device that can ‘hear’ your internal voice New headset can listen to internal vocalisation and speak to the wearer while appearing silent to the outside world. The device, called AlterEgo, can transcribe words that wearers verbalise internally but do not say out loud, using electrodes attached to the skin. “Our idea was: could we have a computing platform that’s more internal, that melds human and machine in some ways and that feels like an internal extension of our own cognition?” said Arnav Kapur, who led the development of the system at MIT’s Media Lab. Kapur describes the headset as an “intelligence-augmentation” or IA device, and was presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Intelligent User Interface conference in Tokyo. It is worn around the jaw and chin, clipped over the top of the ear to hold it in place. Four electrodes under the white plastic device make contact with the skin and pick up the subtle neuromuscular signals that are triggered when a person verbalises internally. When someone says words inside their head, artificial intelligence within the device can match particular signals to particular words, feeding them into a computer. The computer can then respond through the device using a bone conduction speaker that plays sound into the ear without the need for an earphone to be inserted, leaving the wearer free to hear the rest of the world at the same time. The idea is to create a outwardly silent computer interface that only the wearer of the AlterEgo device can speak to and hear. Source: The Guardian (UK) 6th April 2018

Hearing voices: new support group launched A new friendship support group has been launched by the Hearing Voices Network specifically for people who hear voices, hallucinate or have disturbing belief systems. The free group meets on the last Thursday of the month from 11am at Richmond Library Annexe. It gives those who experience auditory hallucinations the opportunity to meet, learn coping strategies and build confidence. Source: Richmond and Twickenham Times (UK), 6th April 2018

Childhood Adversity Influences Levels of Distress in Voice Hearers A new study, published in Schizophrenia Research, examined the relationship between childhood adversity, hearing negative voices, and individuals’ level of distress. Dr. Cherise Rosen and a team of researchers found that the content of voices heard is a crucial piece that explains why childhood adversity leads to distress. These results point toward the use of trauma-focused interventions to change voice content. Source: Mad in America (USA), 4th April 2018

TV’s Trippiest Superhero Thriller ‘Legion’ asks: What if a mutant named David Haller (Dan Stevens) hears voices in his head and at least some of them are not the thoughts of humans? Source: The Federalist (USA), 3rd April 2018

Pastor Speaks: Hearing the word of God What about hearing voices? Listen to them only if they are voices of people reading and explaining God’s Word. That’s the foundation for true Christian faith as the Bible says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Don’t be satisfied with just listening. Pay attention, consider, and respond to what you hear. True Christians are marked by continual pattern of hearing and following Jesus. He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). If you are not hearing Jesus words you may not really be one of His sheep. Source: The Morrow County Sentinel, 1st April 2018


March

A ‘hellish world’: the mental health crisis overwhelming America’s prisons In America, jails and prisons have become the nation’s de facto mental healthcare providers – and the results are chilling. Across the country, correctional facilities are struggling with the reality that they have become the nation’s de facto mental healthcare providers, although they are hopelessly ill-equipped for the job. They are now contending with tens of thousands of people with mental illness who, by some counts, make up as much as half of their populations. Source: The Guardian (UK), 31st March 2018

Study Explores Māori Community’s Multifaceted Understanding of “Psychosis” A new study published in Transcultural Psychiatry considers how those in a Māori community understand experiences defined by Western psychiatry as “psychosis” and “schizophrenia.” Dr. Melissa Taitimu and Dr. John Read found that participants tended to hold “multiple explanatory models” which often included spiritual and cultural beliefs. Participants’ discussed their hesitance to share these perspectives in conventional health settings, for fear that they would be disregarded or pathologized. The authors maintain that the meaning individuals’ attribute to these experiences must be sensitively elicited and considered in assessment and care. Source: Mad in America (USA), 28th March 2018

Hollyoaks spoilers: Mental illness story for Alfie Nightingale as he is plagued by voices Hollyoaks are set to launch a powerful new mental health storyline for Alfie Nightingale as he starts hearing a voice and is diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. The teenager has been struggling to cope with life since the loss of his soulmate Jade Albright and his loved ones started to fear that he was exhibiting odd behaviour when he worked on a robot to replace Jade. But in coming weeks, when a voice in Alfie’s head starts communicating with him and ordering him to do things, it becomes clear that things are extremely serious. And Hollyoaks has been working with the charity Mind to ensure that it represents the condition with sensitivity and accuracy. Source: Metro (UK), 25th March 2018

Video game backed by Peterborough mental health professionals gets nine BAFTA nominations ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’ is the first game to use state-of-the-art techniques to evoke the voices and visions experienced by people who live with psychosis. The game uses a binaural technique that mimics 3D human hearing – players experience visual and auditory hallucinations as if they are Senua and ‘hear’ voices just behind them, or whispering in their ear. Professor Paul Fletcher, who is honorary consultant with CPFT, said: ”I am delighted that Ninja Theory has been nominated for so many awards for ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’. “They have done something risky but important, and potentially valuable in representing experiences that most people find deeply alien. The fact that they are doing so in a firstperson subjective viewpoint in a game setting, which demands that the player fully engages with the experience rather than simply passively observing it, makes it all the more powerful and has already got people on the internet and in the media talking in an engaged, thoughtful and respectful way about the nature of these experiences and what it must feel like to have them.” Source: Peterborough Today (UK), 23rd March 2018

Nutrients in Brussels sprouts, shellfish and oranges could help fight SCHIZOPHRENIA, study says Nutrients found in Brussels sprouts, shellfish and oranges could help fight the early stages of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, a study says. The study, from the University of Manchester and Western Sydney University, showed certain supplements could improve classic treatments for psychotic illnesses, as long as they were taken early. That means supplements like the amino acid taurine, found in many common foods, could improve mental health – although the reasons why are still unclear. A researcher from the study is now launching a clinical trial to test the hypothesis. Source: Mail Online (UK), 22nd March 2018

A Tale of Two Studies It’s a tale of two studies, and a quick review of both helps frame an important ethical question for psychiatry: which of the two studies should guide their thinking? The one that is dependent on drug-withdrawn patients doing poorly, or the one designed to help drug-withdrawn patients succeed? Source: Mad in America (USA), 22nd March 2018

Hearing Voices with Dr. Joachim Schnackenberg An interview with Dr. Joachim Schnackenberg about his work with people who hear voices. Dr. Schnackenberg is a consultant for hearing voices and recovery in Germany and a researcher, supervisor and trainer in Experience Focussed Counselling with Voice Hearers (also known as Making Sense of Voices or Working with Voices) primarily provided in the German and English language. We discuss the approach of ‘listening to the voice’ discerning its message and seeing it as ultimately either benevolent in nature, or at least with the potential to use the experience towards a positive end if the experience remains considered negative despite an attempt to work constructively with it, no matter how malevolent it may appear. Source: PodBean, 20th March 3018

Research Is Shedding New Light on Hearing Voices Research supports the view that hearing hallucinatory voices is not by itself an indicator of mental illness.  Estimates of the percentage of people in the general population without a known psychiatric illness who report auditory hallucinations vary widely.  One review of seventeen surveys from nine countries found prevalence estimates as low as fewer than 1% to as high as 84%.  Estimates of college students who have reported hearing hallucinatory voices have ranged from 13% to 71%.  The wide range of estimates can be attributed in part to differences in definitions, survey instructions, and other methodological variations.  Taking into consideration such methodological differences, some researchers estimate the prevalence of hearing voices in the general population to be between 5% and 28%, with 75% of people who report hearing voices to be psychologically healthy.  Research suggests also that the prevalence of auditory verbal hallucinations varies by gender, age and culture. Source: Psychology Today (USA), 19th March 2018

My Encounter with the University of Minnesota’s Psychiatric Department The voice came to me for three nights in a row, and in extraordinary sessions that lasted no more than half an hour, changed me at my core. Those provocative sessions relieved me of guilt, helped me accept my frailties, accept my humanity, my belonging to the human race, and caused me to fall in love with the voice. Now the voice wanted “us” to go public with this new vision of life, one full of love and caring for my fellow man. At the time, I was still involved with my venture capital world, sitting on three corporate boards, chairman of two, and on two non-profit art boards. Willingly doing the voice’s bidding, I spread its message about love, about changing the world for the better, at board meetings. For the most part, my message was not well received and got me into hot water. But I stand by that message even now, twenty-two years later. Source: Mad in America (USA), 18th March 2018

Psychosocial Explanations of Psychosis Reduce Stigma, Study Finds A review of mental health anti-stigma campaigns finds psychosocial models are effective in reducing stigma, while biogenetic models often worsen attitudes. A review published in the Israeli Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences evaluates the effects of mental health anti-stigma campaigns according to their causal frameworks. The review’s authors, Dr. Eleanor Longdon and Dr. John Read, found that although biomedical explanations of mental illness predominate in current anti-stigma discourse, not only are they ineffective but they also tend to increase stigma. Conversely, evidence indicates that psychosocial explanations of psychosis are effective in reducing stigma and humanizing those who live with the condition. Source: Mad in America (USA), 16th March 2018

‘I tried to kill myself nine times before the NHS helped me’ “When you’re in mental health crisis, it feels like everything is just closing in on your brain like a clamp,” she says.”I was psychotic and I was hearing Kieran in my head telling me I need to leave the house.” Kieran is one of the voices Sherry hears – the worst one, she says. “When I’m in that state, it is very hard to comprehend that the voices are not real. I hear him in my ears like I’d hear a real person. He will say, ‘No-one likes you, no-one loves you, you’re better off dead.'”Under Kieran’s influence, she quarrelled with her parents and stormed out of the house. A little later PC Pete Coe and PC Dan Ayrton found her on a pathway nearby, train tracks lying just ahead. Source: BBC News (UK), 15th March 2018

Psychiatry’s Failure to Acknowledge Who I Really Am This is not how the mental health system should treat “psychotic” people. Mental health providers should treat them with compassion, empathy, respect, love and understanding. With a circle of loving and understanding people surrounding a person in crisis, I have no doubt that most “psychosis” would normalize in time. Source: Mad in America, 14th March 2018

A Wider Perspective on “Psychosis” A tale is commonly told of science narrowing in on an understanding of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia – they are an illness of the brain, caused by genetic risk factors, biochemical imbalances (Deacon, 2013), and faulty circuits amongst neurons (Insel, 2010). Psychoeducational materials confidently inform families that “people do not cause it” (Glynn, 2014) – that is, it is not caused by interpersonal experience or personal mistakes. But do the narrower views of psychosis really follow from evidence, or do they rest more on prejudice? Source: Mad in America (USA), 10th March 2018

What is a Tulpa? There’s a community of people on Reddit who have chosen to create voices in their heads, called tulpamancers. Their voices are called tulpas. A tulpa is a mental companion created by focused thought and recurrent interaction, similar to an imaginary friend. However, unlike them, tulpas possess their own will, thoughts and emotions, allowing them to act independently. Tulpamancers describe the experience of having tulpas as being like the experiences of fiction writers whose characters come alive and begin talking to them; in fact, a great number of tulpa creators have formed tulpas that way. Source: Reddit, 8th March 2018


February

Promoting Healing After Psychosis What does it mean to heal after a psychotic episode? Is it just about trying to “get back to normality” and to suppress any further “psychosis” — or does something deeper need to happen? Source: Mad in America, 25th February 2018

3 Women Tell Us What It’s Really Like To Live With Schizophrenia But the statistics don’t tell us everything, and stigma and misunderstanding about schizophrenia is rife, as three women who have the illness told us. Here they describe when they got their diagnosis, what it really feels like to hear voices in your head. Source: Refinery 29 (UK), 24th February

What it’s actually like to hear voices in your head There’s a cultural stigma, especially in the US, that hearing voices in your head is inherently a sign of mental-health issues. There’s a community of people on Reddit who have chosen to create voices in their heads, called tulpamancers. Their voices are called tulpas. Source: Business Insider UK, 22nd February 2018

Auditory Hallucinations Linked To Perceptual Expectations Bias People with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, an exaggerated version of a perceptual distortion that is common among other people without hallucinations, researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have found.Those with hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms are known to have elevated dopamine, the main area of focus for available treatments for psychosis, but it was unclear how this could lead to hallucinations. The researchers found that elevated dopamine could make some patients rely more on expectations, which could then result in hallucinations. The findings explain why treatments targeting the production of dopamine could help alleviate this condition. Source: Reliawire (USA), 18th February 2018

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study Researchers have found that people with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, an exaggerated version of a perceptual distortion that is common among other people without hallucinations. The researchers found that elevated dopamine could make some patients rely more on expectations, which could then result in hallucinations. Source: Science Daily (USA), 16th February 2018


January

People undergo magical experiences through ‘God Helmet’ Researchers created a placebo brain stimulation device that they call a ‘God Helmet’ and were able to induce ‘extraordinary experiences’ in people it was tested upon. Researchers tested 193 participants at a Dutch music festival to wear the sliver colored skateboard helmet that had fake wires attached to itself and was hooked up to sham medical equipment. For 15 minutes, the participants were made to listen to white noise via earphones while being blindfolded. Their spiritual beliefs were also questioned and their blood samples were taken in order to determine the level of alcohol or other substances consumed. By the end of the experiment, almost 80% people experienced weak sensations and 30% experienced strong sensations. Weak sensations included sleepiness, increased heart rate and dizziness. Whereas, strong sensations included visual and auditory hallucinations, distortions in time and space, unconscious movements, and the feeling of floating, similar to experiences felt during psychedelics or spiritual experiences. Source:  Business Recorder, (Pakistan), 23rd January 2018

 


 

 

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