Media 2018

2018 (110 items)


On Voice Hearing Simulations: Why They Should Be (Mostly) Banned Voice hearing simulations are meant to increase understanding of and empathy for the experience of those who hear voices on the regular. (See the ‘Empathy Initiative‘ for just one of many examples.) When integrated into much longer trainings that discuss research, alternative perspectives, strategies, and ways that voice hearing can be part of a full life, that can be effective. However, the standard voice hearing simulations circling our nation — the ones that fail to unpack the meaning behind the exercise and discuss its various implications — miss the boat in several ways. Source: Mad in America (USA), 26th December 2018

‘She was unrecognisable’ – families warn of antipsychotic drug effects Coroners urge health secretary to ensure that clozapine, linked to two deaths, does not claim more lives. Tom Jackson died in August 2016 at the age of 24 as a result of “clozapine toxicity, pneumonia and treatment-resistant schizophrenia”, according to the coroner’s report. He had suffered a traumatic childhood and was described by his sister, Laura, as “vulnerable, very kind and sensitive, someone that people took advantage of”. Source: The Guardian (UK), 23rd December 2018

Parents, don’t panic if your child hears voices, it’s actually quite common   Although the way we view and support people with mental health difficulties has improved over the years, experiences such as hearing voices and seeing visions are often still associated with ‘severe and enduring mental illness’. But what is less well-known about these voices and visions is that they are surprisingly common – especially when growing up. Around 8% of young people are thought to hear voices at some stage in childhood, with up to 75% having a one-off experience of voice hearing. This makes hearing voices about as common for young people as having asthma or dyslexia . For many children, then, it seems that hearing voices is a pretty normal part of growing up . Source: MENAFN – The Conversation (Jordan), 23rd November 2018

Behind a Big—and Rare—Foundation Grant for Mental Health A program of interest to OSF is Healing Voices, which started in the Netherlands 30 years ago. A non-medication based program, Hearing Voices developed into an international collaboration of professionals, people with lived experience, and families and friends working to “develop an alternative approach to coping with voices, visions, and other extreme states that is empowering and useful and does not start from the assumption that such people have a chronic illness. Open Dialogue and Hearing Voices are only two of the many initiatives backed by Excellence, which has an unusual operating model, at least for health funders. Describing itself as an international community foundation, it’s embraced donor-advised funds in a big way and pools resources to advance its mission. Source: Inside Philanthropy, 17th December 2018

Targeted cognitive training improves auditory, verbal outcomes in schizophrenia Computerized targeted cognitive training improved auditory perception and verbal learning and reduced auditory hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia mandated to receive care at a rehabilitation center, study findings showed. Source: Healio (USA), 17th December 2018


Disabling convention: does the UN CRPD fail to reflect mental health realities? Akiko Hart from HVN England considers questions thrown up by the government’s independent Mental Health Act review and responses it received. “This is not an easy piece to write. For one, it brings up difficult questions. I worked at an EU level in mental health policy and advocacy, which has meant engaging with the UN CRPD, and I am also deeply involved in hearing voices work and wider mental health activism in the UK. However, I’m not a service user, and I haven’t been detained under the MHA. I am also aware that any argument seen to be critiquing the UN CRPD might be pounced upon and weaponised by those who back the status quo, in order to serve their own position. Indeed, that is part of the problem: where is the space for us to critically interrogate the UN CRPD? The UN CRPD was such a big, legislative win, it pulls us towards consensus and unity. However, whilst unity is strategically important, we must not let it obscure a number of uncomfortable questions and dilemmas which we need to attend to.”  Source: Mental Health Today (UK), 14th December 2018

Hearing Voices Network calls for a rights-based Mental Health Act To coincide with the launch of the government-initiated Review of the Mental Health Act, the English Hearing Voices Network launched an alternative review on 6/12/18. In this clip, as one of the authors, I spoke with Kay about the limitations of the Act, why change is needed and my own experiences of being sectioned. See:…/alternative-mental-health-…/ At HVN, we believe this alternative review is important as the Mental Health Act has a profound impact on the lives of our members and supporters, many of whom have either been detained under the act, witnessed the detention of a loved one or lived under the threat of detention. Source HVN England (UK), 6th December 2018


Hearing Voices Others Can’t: How A Growing Movement Fights Mental Health Stigma What is it like hearing voices that others can’t? For Jeannie Bass, hearing voices is her daily reality. The medical term is “auditory hallucinations.” Jeannie is a leader in the Hearing Voices Movement, which aims to re-frame and destigmatize the extreme mental experiences that society labels as “crazy.” Source: NBC (USA), 30th November 2018

Hearing voices, feeling paranoid often? Could be due to traumatic childhood experiences Researchers have found a link between trauma in childhood and psychotic experiences at the age of 18. The University of Bristol study has been published in JAMA Psychiatry. The findings are the first to comprehensively examine the association between different types of trauma, and their timing in childhood with later psychotic experiences using a large population study. Psychotic experiences include abnormal experiences such as hearing voices or feelings of paranoia. Source: Indian Times (India), 24th November 2018

Easing the pain of hearing voices From imaginary childhood friends to characters in books, there are many reasons why we hear voices in our head.
Hearing the Voice is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding why it happens. It’s also helping to ease the suffering of those who can’t shut the voices out. Source: ABC (Australia), 14th November 12018

Which voids can be filled through peer support? The conditions under which peer support and peer services have developed have tended to be defined by the political and economic realities of their times and the way that has affected the way that mental health services have operated. In the UK, many of the roots of peer support crisscross the history of other political movements and trends, some left wing and some not. The Mental Patients’ Union was formed in 1973 to, in the words of founder member Andrew Roberts, “represent all mental patients wherever they needed to be represented – we wanted patients to be able to support one another and bargain collectively.” Influenced by other liberation struggles, one of the Union’s first acts was to demand the end of compulsory treatment. Later movements in peer support have ranged from the setting up of user-led organisations to provide services; to the recruitment by NHS of services of peer workers to work within their structures; to the development of networks of mutual self help and support such as The Hearing Voices Network. Source: Mental Health Today (UK), 6th November 2018

Anti-psychotic drugs ‘shrinking brains of children’ Antipsychotic medications may be shrinking the brains of thousands of Australian children, leaving them with permanent mental impairments, leading psychiatrists warn. The powerful drugs, increasingly prescribed to children with common behavioural problems, could be causing young brains to “not only shrink but not grow normally”, according to a co-­author of a commentary published by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Source: The Australian (Australia), 5th November 2018

The Language of Internalized Oppression Yes, we regularly and unwittingly box ourselves in to the ‘mental health’ framework, even when we might think we’re pushing our way out. This phenomenon is attributable to what gets called ‘internalized oppression’. It is a common experience among many marginalized groups in society who find that they have taken on elements of unhelpful belief systems fashioned by those in power. Source: Mad in America (USA), 1st November 2018

How to tell if you’re at risk of psychosis from using cannabis Only a minority of people who use cannabis are at risk of developing schizophrenia, but it can trigger the illness when they would otherwise have stayed healthy. ‘It’s a bit of a dangerous game in that sense as if someone develops it, that’s it,’ Dr Sarkhel, from Living Mind clinic, said. ‘They’ll need to be on treatment for a long time.’ He said that a few risk factors were known, for example a family history of psychosis, or personal experiences of psychosis in the past. ‘Maybe there are genetic elements, or in general any brain pathology, but we are still not absolutely sure,’ he said. Heavy use or use over a long period also puts people at risk, he said. Source: The Metro (UK), 1st October 2018


Inside the mind of Channeler Amanda Abelseth “I was a child when it started, I would hear voices and have a lot intense dreams. I struggled a lot with accepting my ability, and being comfortable in my community to express what I do. I was afraid that it was evil at first. I also struggled because my parents were religious and they didn’t accept it.” Abelseth explains that channeling is a method used to access information from entities that enlighten us as we move through the evolution of consciousness. Source: Regina Leder-Post (USA), 31st October 2018

Can Hallucinations Lead to Post-Traumatic Growth? Participants see hallucinations as something that hindered them, but it is also tempered by the possibility of enrichment. This isn’t a simple story. Participants continued to see their hallucinations as something that hindered them, but it was now tempered by the possibility of enrichment. Dixon’s team recommend that professionals, friends and family (but particularly clinicians) who are close to people having such experiences should avoid stigmatisation, and support them wherever they are at, understanding that a complex relationship with reality does not make the person any less whole. Source: The Wire (India), 26th October 2018

Tyson Fury: I ‘gave up on life’ during depression and absence from boxing The 30-year-old, who returned to boxing after a two-and-a-half-year absence in June this year, told the video podcast The Joe Rogan Experience that he “wanted to die so bad” at the lowest points of his absence from the sport. “I would start thinking these crazy thoughts,” Fury said. “I bought a brand new Ferrari convertible in the summer of 2016. I was in it on the highway and at the bottom I got the car up to 190mph and heading towards a bridge.
“I didn’t care about nothing. I just wanted to die so bad. I gave up on life but, as I was heading to the bridge, I heard a voice saying: ‘No, don’t do this Tyson. Think about your kids, your family, your sons and daughter growing up without a dad.’” Source: The Guardian (UK), 26th October 2018

My Father Says He’s a ‘Targeted Individual.’ Maybe We All Are Stay with me here; the idea that madness might contain insights about overlooked realities is not new. There is a growing international network of people with hallucinations, Intervoice, whose members have embraced their waking visions and the voices in their heads. They see them not as undesirable symptoms of mental illness, but as tools that serve the same function as dreams. They explore hallucinations for metaphorical insights to help them process unresolved experiences. They argue that traditional mental health approaches, focused on eradicating symptoms, fail to promote a meaningful, empowering relationship between patients and their hallucinations. On its website, the network urges people with schizophrenia “to listen (to hallucinations) but not to necessarily follow, to engage.” (The approach is gaining traction in the scientific community.) Source: The Wire (USA), 25th October 2018

What’s it like to go through a psychotic break There was an unfortunate incident in a church that led to my family thinking I was being possessed, which in turn led to an perplexing attempt at exorcism that happened twice and in different places; one in church and one in my own home.  Source: GMA News (Philipines), 18th October 2018

Voices in my head “Things have changed dramatically over the past 30 years,” explains Dr Georgie Paulik-White, clinical director of Perth Voices Clinic, a psychological treatment, teaching and research centre for people who have unusual perceptual experiences. “The Hearing Voices Network, which started in the UK, is a peer support movement which recognises that voice hearing is really common and is not always distressing and that is it not always a sign of mental illness,” she adds. “It’s really helped to change mental health services and how they view voice hearing.” Source: The West Australian (Australia), 18th October 2018

Danny was ten, but the voice in his head belonged to a threatening older man: Hallucinations in children are more common than you might think. Aged ten, Danny came across as a confident and happy-go-lucky lad, and seemed delighted to describe for me in detail the voices he’d been hearing. In fact, it was just one voice: not recognisable as anyone he knew, but it was male and rendered in a sinister whisper. He’d heard it in bed the night before, which had given him a heck of a fright. Source: The New Statesman, 17th October 2018

Ideas on how to talk supportively with voices Some people who have had problematic voices have tried adopting a ‘living with voices’ approach and have been able to improve the relationship with their voices. As part of this ‘living with voices’ approach many voice hearers have found it helpful to learn to engage and talk with their voices. For example, finding ways to both set boundaries with their voices and also negotiate with them. So instead of trying to get rid of their voices many have found it more helpful to change the relationship with their voices to one that is more mutually respectful. Source: Open Minded Online (UK), 14th October 2018

I once had a babysitter with schizophrenia – here’s why that’s not a big deal Sophie lived in Brighton, and once, when my mum – one of her closest friends – had to visit the seaside town for a family lunch I was deemed too young to attend, she asked her to look after me. ‘At other times, Sophie was the most fun person in the world. She would tell me wonderful stories – true or not, I’ll never know – and would exude such inspiration and intrigue. She was an artist, full of life’ For most of the day, she sat under a tree, chain-smoking in her black film star sunglasses. At times, I knew to leave her alone and entertain myself. I pleaded with her a couple of times to join in a game of football, but she said no in a pained voice and gave me money for an ice cream instead. At other times, Sophie was the most fun person in the world. She would tell me wonderful stories – true or not, I’ll never know – and would exude such inspiration and intrigue. She was an artist, full of life, and I remember my day with her fondly. Source: i News (UK), 10th October 2018

‘I have some form of synaesthesia. I always have music in my head’ – Nile Rodgers “Another thing happened that I’ve only talked about once or twice in my life,” he breezily continues of that fateful night. “I have some form of synaesthesia because I always have music in my head. It drives my girlfriend crazy because I go home and have to turn the television on because I can’t sleep in a quiet environment. Right now, talking to you is the distraction from the composition going on in my head. When I went to that disco, it was the first time I heard continuous music just like the one in my head. I didn’t know how to explain it to my girlfriend. It was a miracle to me.” Source: Independent Ireland (Ireland), 5th October 2018

Did You Hear That? Few of us go around proudly announcing that we’ve been hallucinating. But many of us have. Estimates put the percentage of individuals in the adult population who hear voices when no one is speaking at around 13 percent. Perhaps more common is the phenomenon of feeling one’s cell phone vibrate, when, in fact, it has not. Evidence suggests that this is quite widespread—68 percent of subjects in one study reported experiencing “phantom vibrations” and 13 percent experienced them daily. This cannot be explained by psychosis; only around 1 percent of people are schizophrenic. It’s clear that there are many non-psychotic individuals experiencing hallucinations. Source: Psychology Today (UK), 2nd October 2018

Hallucinations Are Everywhere Experiences like hearing voices are leading psychologists to question how all people perceive reality. “Hallucinations can be very distressing and debilitating. They can also be neutral or positive,” Fernyhough says. “A better understanding of how they occur and how they can be managed could alleviate a great deal of mental distress.” Source: The Atlantic (USA), 2nd October 2018

The Impact of Deafness on Hallucinations and Delusions Studies have shown that hearing impairment increases the risk of psychosis. For example, hearing loss at an early age has been associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia at a later age.1 One study involving individuals who had experience of hallucinations revealed that 16.2% of participants with impaired hearing hallucinated in the last 4 weeks. However, only 5.8% of participants without impaired hearing hallucinated within the same period. Source: Psychiatry Advisor (USA), 2nd October 2018


Vincent van Gogh Cut Off His Ear to Silence Hallucinations There has been endless speculation over the years as to the true nature of the mysterious mental illness that plagued Van Gogh. Like others before him, Bailey speculates might have been bipolar disorder. Whatever the true diagnosis, toward the end of his stay at Saint-Paul, Van Gogh came to feel that being surrounded by the mentally ill made his own issues worse. Source: ArtNet (USA), 27th September 2018

Yayoi Kusama: the world’s favourite artist? Yayoi Kusama has coped with severe psychological difficulties since she was a young child and even according to her own admission it is believed that her art is primarily inspired by the state of her mental health. Abused by her mother during her childhood, she began suffering from intense audio-visual hallucinations which have continued throughout her lifetime. She says “My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease. I create pieces even when I don’t see hallucinations, though. By translating hallucinations and fear of hallucinations into paintings, I have been trying to cure my disease.” Source: The Guardian (UK), 23rd September 2018

Is there life after death? Man ‘spoke to GOD’ in astonishing Near Death Experience account Near death experiences are typically associated with out-of-body memories, feelings of levitation, seeing light and hearing voices during moments of cardiac arrest and other forms of impeding death. Source: The Express (USA), 22nd September 2018

Psychosis Affects One In 100 People: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment Explained One in 100 people will experience psychosis, where they perceive or interpret reality in a different way from people around them. But awareness is low and, in turn, stigma surrounding the mental illness is high. Source: Huffington Post, 18th September 2018

A Forum for Young People who Hear Voices & Their Supporters Voice Collective is a UK-wide London-based project that supports children and young people who hear voices or have other ‘unusual’ sensory experiences or beliefs. About 9 months ago they launched an online support forum to provide young people and those who care for them (e.g. parents, family members, foster carers etc). Source: Intervoice-online (UK), 17th September 2018

Did You Ever Stop Taking Antipsychotics? 1.6% of the US population — more than 5 million people — currently takes antipsychotic medication such as Zyprexa, Geodon, Risperdal or Haldol, according to a 2017 review in the Journal of the American Medical Association; and antipsychotics are among the top grossing pharmaceuticals sold in the US today. Worldwide the pattern is similar, with antipsychotic drugs considered not only a necessary treatment for psychosis but now also used to treat bipolar mania, anxiety, depression, dementia, learning disability, and even insomnia. If you are one of the people taking antipsychotics, or you used to take them, chances are you weren’t given a clear picture of what these drugs are all about before being prescribed, much less what your options were for getting off of them. Source: Mad in America (USA), 15th September 2018

Door-handle conversation: ‘I’ve been hearing voices for a few weeks’ The disclosure of possible psychotic symptomology must always be taken seriously and investigated. It will be necessary to extend the consultation to examine the situation. First ask questions about the voices, such as if they are ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ the patient’s head – this will help you determine if the voices are of a psychotic nature. Source: Nursing in Practice, 10th September 2018

Fighting for the Freedom to Hear Voices Then the random day came when I decided to get back on a computer. I sat there staring at the screen and wondered what to look up. Then it popped into my head and I started typing “people who hear voices and are normal,” “people who hear voices and aren’t crazy,” “hearing voices and not wanting them to go away,” and on and on it went. Every phrase I typed brought up Hearing Voices Networks around the world and the umbrella organization that oversees every HVN on the globe, Intervoice. I pulled my first all-nighter since before my last hospitalization. Throughout the nocturnal hours I stayed up reading everything I could find. I couldn’t contain my excitement; I WAS NOT ALONE. How could this be possible? As much as I still heard my voices almost constantly and had learned to collaborate and find power with them, I walked around with a scarlet letter feeling shame that this was my reality. I did secretly fear that I was not “recovered” enough to be part of this movement, but would soon learn that accepting my voices as a part of my unique reality did not mean there needed to be an absence of struggle. Life as a voice hearer isn’t always light and love, but instead is sometimes messy, dark chaos that would scare even the most avid lovers of horror or science fiction. And yes, both ways of surviving were okay. Source: Mad in America (USA), 10th September 2018

Can hallucinations lead to post-traumatic growth? If you contemplate how a person’s life would be changed by starting to hear or see things others can’t, can you imagine it could offer anything good? Writing in the Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy, lead author Lily Dixon and her team detail the experiences of seven people who have lived with verbal or auditory hallucinations and how, amid the struggles, their journeys have taken them to some positive places. Source: British Psychological Society, 6th September 2018

Midult founders talk sex, quitting booze and anxiety in new book about owning imperfection “I started to have these terrible panic attacks five years ago. I was hearing voices and they were telling me I was a terrible mother. Within three months it had become a cacophony of voices saying you are just a terrible person,” says McMeekan, looking a little wild-eyed as she describes how an acute breakdown at work left her stuck in the loo, imagining “the voices were coming to get me.’ An emergency appointment with the GP resulted in a prescription for beta blockers and instructions to go into therapy and start eating properly. Source: Evening Standard (UK), 3rd September 2020


Auditory Illusions Offer Insights Into Music, Evolution And The Brain When people think about auditory illusions, two names come to mind: Yanny and Laurel. But whichever name listeners heard in that fuzzy copy of a sound clip from, the sound meme that swept the internet in May 2018 revealed much about how human hearing works. “And no one’s right or wrong, really, because it’s all about your perception — this interpretation of your brain,” said Corianne Rogalsky, a cognitive neuroscientist at Arizona State University. Rogalsky specializes in the neurobiology of language, music and cognition, and how they change after brain injury. “Because of the noise induced into that recording, your brain is trying to attend to the right information.” In other words, hearing is about what we pay attention to, and what we expect to hear. “Our perceptions of the world are just as much guided by our expectations and experiences as they are by the physical energy coming into our brain,” she said. Consequently, illusions can occur within the inner ear, starting with the cochlea. Source: KJZZ (USA), 30th August 2018

Normalizing the voices in our heads Hearing voices is often regarded as a sign of mental illness. But maybe voices are just part of a spectrum. Professor T. M. Luhrmann says the idea of a continuum of voices is gaining recognition: “This is the new axiom of the psychotic continuum theory: that voices are not the problem. The problem is the way people react to their voices.” says the professor of Anthropology at Stanford University (Harper’s magazine, June, 2018). Luhrmann has been studying voices for decades and found people with intense experiences who aren’t psychotic. One of them is Sarah, who was only four when a “spirit guide” appeared to her. When she told her mother of what she was seeing and hearing, her mother warned: “Cut it out. This is what they put people in psychiatric hospitals for.” Sarah grew up otherwise normal, went to college and became a nurse. She began to see souls as they left the bodies of dying patients. They often gave her messages to give to people they’d left behind. While she could hear them, she realized that no one else did. At 62, Sarah is married and still working. One of her voices, “Tom,” is friendly. Other voices, “the council,” not so much but Tom helps mediate between the two. “But Sarah is not psychotic,” says Luhrmann, “To use the language of psychiatric nosology [classification of diseases], she has no ‘functional impairment.’ She can work and care for herself and others; her marriage is good and stable. She has never been hospitalized.” Source: CFJC News (USA), 30th August 2018

Brain scans show how cannabis extract may help people with psychosis Cannabidiol reduces the brain activity linked to hallucinations, delusions and other forms of psychosis, research has found. Brain scans have revealed for the first time how a substance found in cannabis plants may help people with psychotic disorders by dampening down abnormal brain activity that arises in the patients. A single dose of cannabidiol, an non-intoxicating extract of the plant, reduced unusual patterns of neural behaviour linked to hallucinations, delusions, and other symptoms of psychosis, researchers found. The impact of the substance has raised hopes that medical preparations of pure cannabidiol, or new drugs based on the compound, may be turned into effective treatments for young people who develop psychosis but do not respond to existing therapies. Source: The Guardian, 29th August 2018

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

Mum reveals how she developed postpartum psychosis after daughter’s birth and began hallucinating and hearing voices Catherine Carver only began to realise something was wrong when she heard the voice of a little girl counting – but realised no one was there. Then she saw a psychedelic display of tigers, lions and the cast of the movie Jumanji appear on the wall of the psychiatric hospital ward. She said: “A voice in my head started to go, ‘That probably isn’t quite right that you’re seeing all those things’. “There were other things that really should have alerted me to the fact that something was very wrong. I believed my baby had been swapped at birth. “And I believed road signs were tailored messages for me. I saw a sign which said, ‘Please observe at all times’ and I thought it was telling everybody else they should be observing me at all times.” Source: The Record (Scotland), 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

Shamans Believe Mental Illness Is Something Else Entirely A West African shaman by the name of Dr. Malidoma Patrice Somé has a different view of mental illness compared to that of people in the western world, where we focus on pathology and the idea that the behavior exhibited by those diagnosed with the condition is something that needs to stop. Dr. Somé proposes that what we call depression, bi-polar, psychosis and schizophrenia may perhaps be a remarkable transformation in consciousness and an inevitable step towards human development. Source: Mystical Ravan (UK), 16th 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: (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

New Study Shows It’s Surprisingly Easy to Make People Have Auditory Hallucinations If you’ve ever heard something that wasn’t there—an auditory hallucination—you know that the sound seems very, very real. A new study suggests that it’s easy to induce auditory hallucinations in people, but it’s even easier in people who already claim to hear things that aren’t there. The research was published in the journal Science. Source: Mental Floss (USA), 10th 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

VR is Helping Solve Schizophrenic Auditory Hallucinations AVATAR therapy first garnered attention when it was pilot tested as a treatment for patients with auditory hallucinations between 2009 and 2011 by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research. The hypothesis driving the therapy is novel, but based on an old cliché: face your fears. Study authors hypothesized that if patients could confront the voice in their heads by virtually personifying it through a software program and challenging their punitive and domineering tendencies, the patient could either overcome the voice, learn to live with it, or eliminate it entirely. Source: Health Analytics News (USA), 6th 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


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


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


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

Yes, I hear voices and have been diagnosed with psychosis – but no, I don’t want you to call me mentally ill ‘Blue’ is young and playful. I began to hear her after slowly withdrawing from the medication doctors prescribed me.She has a sense of curiosity and fun that I value, and I’ve learnt a toolbox of strategies to settle her down when she’s upset, including watching YouTube videos of wombats. If you sat next to me on my commute to work the only thing that might seem odd is my blue hair, yet there is so much about me that might surprise you. Wherever I go, I’m accompanied by around 13 different voices. You won’t see me speaking out loud to them, but they’re there. These voices are such a part of my existence that I find it hard to imagine what it’s like for those of you who don’t hear them. What’s it like to have such a quiet mind? Source: Independent (UK), 10th 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


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

Exploring Brain Stimulation as a Treatment for Auditory Hallucinations in Schizophrenia A preliminary study published in European Psychiatry examined noninvasive brain stimulation as a possible avenue for treatment of auditory hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations that are not mitigated by antipsychotics affect approximately 30% of individuals with schizophrenia. The trial included 22 patients who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and experienced at least 3 auditory hallucinations per week. The study’s small participant pool did not allow for any significant findings. However, the authors pointed to a possible difference in the specific symptoms alleviated by different types of stimulation. Source: Psychiatric Advisor (USA), 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


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

‘Hearing voices isn’t a mental illness’: MHT meets Voice Collective Children under the age of 13 are more likely to hear voices than any other age group. Voice Collective, which runs a global online forum for young voice hearers, was set up in response to an increasing demand for non-clinical and peer support approaches from young voice hearers and their families. Almost a decade on from their launch, we caught up with Voice Collective’s Eve Mundy – who will speak at MHT Wales in May – to get the latest in understanding of voice hearing, along with insights into their sensitive and pioneering support services. Source: Mental Health Today (UK), 27th 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


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


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

Understanding how it feels to hear voices Psychologists can use immersive art exhibitions to increase public understanding and compassion towards people who hear voices. That is the conclusion of research presented today by Dr Simon Riches from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, to the annual conference of our Divison of Clinical Psychology in Cardiff. Altered States of Consciousness was an immersive art exhibition held in London in January 2017. It provided visitors with an opportunity to challenge their own perceptions of mental health and normality, allowing them to appreciate what it feels like to hear voices and have other unusual sensory experiences. Working with a group of people who have lived experience of visual and auditory hallucinations and artists, Dr Riches and colleagues developed a voice-hearing simulation using exhibition audio guides, headphones and concealed actors. Source: British Psychological Society, 18th January 2018

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