Dr. Helen

Research suggests that up to one in 25 people hears voices regularly...

I can’t decide if this is troubling or decent advice: “The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back:”

Research suggests that up to one in 25 people hears voices regularly and that up to 40 per cent of the population will hear voices at some point in their lives. But many live healthy and fulfilling lives despite those aural spectres.

Recently, Waddingham and more than 200 other voice-hearers from around the world gathered in Thessaloniki, Greece, for the sixth annual World Hearing Voices Congress, organised by Intervoice, an international network of people who hear voices and their supporters. They reject the traditional idea that the voices are a symptom of mental illness. They recast voices as meaningful, albeit unusual, experiences, and believe that potential problems lie not in the voices themselves but in a person’s relationship with them.

“If people believe their voices are omnipotent and can harm and control them, then they are less likely to cope and more likely to end up as psychiatric patients,” says Eugenie Georgaca, a senior lecturer at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the organiser of this year’s conference. “If they have explanations of voices that allow them to deal with them better, that is a first step toward learning to live with them.”

The road to this form of recovery often begins in small support groups run by the worldwide Hearing Voices Network (HVN). Founded in the Netherlands in 1987, it allows members to share their stories and coping mechanisms – for example, setting appointments to talk with the voices, so that the voice-hearer can function without distraction the rest of the day – and above all gives voice-hearers a sense of community, as people rather than patients.

Here are The basic assumptions of INTERVOICE from their website:

Hearing voices is a normal though unusual and personal variation of human experience.
Hearing voices makes sense in relation to personal life experiences.
The problem is not hearing voices but the difficulty to cope with the experience.
People who hear voices can cope with these experiences by accepting and owning their voices.
A positive attitude by society and its members towards people hearing voices increases acceptance of voices and people who hear voices. Discrimination and excluding of people hearing voices must stop.

I am leaning towards troubling….