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Living with Voices. What does the experience tell us? . Hearing Voices. Prevalence 4 – 10 % Normal phenomenon A minority gets a psychiatric diagnosis HV not a sign of illness but a sign of problems. Hearing Voices Movement Intervoice. Accepting and owning voices

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Living with voices

Living with Voices

What does the experience tell us?


Hearing voices
Hearing Voices

  • Prevalence 4 – 10 %

  • Normal phenomenon

  • A minority gets a psychiatric diagnosis

  • HV not a sign of illness but a sign of problems


Hearing voices movement intervoice
Hearing Voices MovementIntervoice

  • Accepting and owning voices

  • Emancipation of voice hearers

  • Coping with voices

  • Origin of voices

  • Recovery process


Two surveys
Two surveys

  • 60 Constructs

  • Living with Voices


What is a construct marius romme and sandra escher 2000
What is a Construct?Marius Romme and Sandra Escher (2000)

  • WHO or What do the voices represent?

  • What problems do the voices represent?


Construct
Construct

  • Deconstructing symptoms and complaints to real persons and conflicts

  • Relating voices to individual solvable problems

  • These data can direct a recovery plan


Construct what data do we need romme and escher 2000 the maastricht hearing voices interview
Constructwhat data do we need?Romme and Escher 2000 – The Maastricht Hearing Voices Interview

  • Identity

  • Characteristics and content

  • Triggers

  • History of the voices

  • History before voice hearing/youth/ vulnerability


60 constructs who
60 ConstructsWho?

People who attended our courses for voice hearers and professionals (2002-2009) in different Western countries (Denmark, UK, The Netherlands, Australia)

Voice hearers who were willing to explore the origins of their voices in front of a group

Long term history with voices

All on medication that didn’t effect their voices very much


60 constructs what did we find demographics
60 Constructs what did we find?Demographics



Characteristics
Characteristics

  • 5% only positive voices

  • 50% only negative voices

  • 45% both positive and negative voices

  • 50% of the voices only spoke to the voice hearers




Triggers
Triggers

  • 23% couldn’t identify triggers, the rest could:

    • Uncertainty

    • Doubt

    • Feeling depressed

    • Loneliness

    • Social situations



Circumstances
Circumstances

  • Trauma: sexual abuse (20%), surgery (7%) physical violence (2%)

  • Relational and social problems: in an intimate relationship (12%), loneliness/social isolation (7%)


Circumstances1
Circumstances

  • Problems in family of origin: death of a (grand)parent, sibling rivalry, leaving home, adoption

  • Other people: moving, giving birth, becoming unemployed, physical illness, visiting a paranormal healer...

  • For 8% it was not possible to identify a special circumstance…bullying/dysfunctional family...

  • One person couldn’t identify anything about negative life circumstances





Conclusions
Conclusions representing?

  • You can talk about life history with voice hearers

  • It is possible to deconstruct the psychiatric label

  • Often you can identify circumstances and people that triggered the emergence of voices

  • Underlying problems can be a focus for a recovery plan

  • Recovery from problems is easier than curing from a ‘brain disease’


My life with voices
My Life with Voices representing?


Living with voices our evidence
Living With Voices representing? Our ‘Evidence’


Trilogy
Trilogy representing?

Romme, M. & Escher, S. (2000).Making Sense of Voices. London: Mind Publications.

Romme, M., Escher, S., Dillon, J., Corstens, D. & Morris, M. (2009).Living With Voices. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

Romme, M. & Escher, S. (1993). Accepting Voices. London: Mind Publications.


Living with voices

Living with Voices representing?

  • Anthology of 50 stories of voice hearers who have learned to live with their voices through accepting them.

  • Contributions from voice hearers from all over the world, including England, Scotland, Wales, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Nigeria, New Zealand, America, Denmark, Norway.

  • Several key themes have emerged that illustrate how it is possible to live a fulfilling life with the experience of hearing voices.


Living with voices

Living with Voices: Key Themes representing?

  • Voices are a survival strategy:

  • Point at real life problems in the past and the present

  • Use metaphorical language that can be translated into real life challenges

  • Are split off feelings - feelings that are unbearable

  • Are awful messages about terrifying past experiences


Living with voices

Causes of Hearing Voices: representing? (as reported by the 50 voice hearers in the book)


Living with voices

Living with Voices: Key Themes representing?

  • ‘Recovery’ is not about getting rid of

  • voices but about:

    • The person understanding their voices in relation to their life experiences

    • The person changing their relationship with their voices so that the voices become harmless and/or helpful.


Living with voices key themes
Living with Voices: Key Themes representing?

Recovery is only possible outside of traditional, biological psychiatry:

  • Equating hearing voices with the diagnosis of schizophrenia

  • ‘Schizophrenia’ is a lifelong label

  • The ‘no hope’ and ‘lifelong illness’ approach

  • The passive victim of pathology approach – not encouraged to help oneself

  • The dominance of the diagnosis of schizophrenia – disregarding all other problems

  • Difficulties in social acceptance arising from the diagnosis of schizophrenia

  • The negative effects of psychiatric hospital admission


Living with voices key themes1
Living with Voices: Key Themes representing?

Recovery is only possible outside of traditional, biological psychiatry:

  • When medication doesn’t have the desired effect, no alternatives are suggested

  • Medication leading to social breakdown

  • Inability to accept people’s experiences

  • Neither interest in the voices nor in what underlies the experience

  • The disease concept destroying the relationship and possibility of a therapeutic alliance between the voice hearer and professionals

  • Promoting a belief in society that hearing voices is a sign of madness


Living with voices

Living with Voices representing?

Audrey says:

“I was first admitted to hospital when I went to see my GP and told them to take me in. I believed that I had an implant in my head. I was having a lot of migraines so I had a lot of pain in my head and it felt like there was something just above my brow which was the root of the pain and I was dopey with the drugs so it made sense to me. I did feel very controlled and like a lot of people were out to get me. Doctors do have a lot of power over you especially if you feel like you are cracking up. Doctors can take all your power away. I had a real go at my GP saying, ‘you are part of a conspiracy and take this fucking implant out of my head’. This was a sure way of ending up in hospital!”


Living with voices

Living with Voices representing?

“I was back in after about 3 months. It all seemed so pointless. Nothing changed, nothing got better. It was just a place to go when things got out of control. The 2nd time I was admitted I was so angry. I went in voluntary because otherwise they would have sectioned me. Again I was feeling very angry and fearful, I had been sleeping with knives under the bed. They sent me on an anger management course which just made me fucking furious!

Why wasn’t I allowed to be angry?”


Living with voices

Living with Voices representing?

“The drugs made me sleep so much and the small times when I was awake I was cracking up and it was a really despairing time. I was 26 years old and I was asking, ‘what am I doing with my life?’ Going round in circles and not going anywhere. It was very frightening and I felt such hopelessness. No one in the psychiatric services gave me any hope, in fact, it was the opposite. In one week I had 2 appointments and on the Tuesday they told me that I had manic depression and on the Thursday they told me it was schizophrenia. What do you do with that? They are completely bizarre words that don’t mean anything. I can’t even spell schizophrenia so what are you supposed to do with these bizarre diagnoses?”


Living with voices key themes2
Living with Voices: Key Themes representing?

Important steps in recovering from the distress

associated with hearing voices:

  • Meeting someone who takes an interest in the voice hearer as a person

  • Giving hope by normalising the experience and showing that there is a way out

  • Meeting people who accept the voices as real; being accepted as a voice hearer by others, but also by oneself

  • Becoming actively interested in the hearing voices experience


Living with voices key themes3
Living with Voices: Key Themes representing?

Important steps in recovering from the distress

associated with hearing voices:

  • Recognising the voices as personal and becoming the owner of your voices

  • Changing the power structure between you and your voices

  • Making choices

  • Changing the relationship with your voices

  • Recognising ones own emotions, accepting them and expressing them


Living with voices1
Living with Voices representing?

  • Ronny says:

    “Looking back at the problems I have had, it was essential for me to get them treated by someone who was interested in me as a whole person. That was the foundation for my recovery.”


Living with voices2
Living with Voices representing?

  • Eleanor says:

    “I went back to Bradford and my new psychiatrist was Pat Bracken and that was a massive help. The very first time I met him he said to me: ‘Hi Eleanor, nice to meet you. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?’ So I just looked at him and said, ‘I’m Eleanor and I'm a schizophrenic.’ and in his quiet, Irish voice he said something very powerful; ‘I don’t want to know what other people have told you about yourself, I want to know about you.’”


Living with voices3
Living with Voices representing?

  • Audrey says:

    “One of the things I did was to support Aud junior (child's voice) to confront the blue voice (voice of abuser). It took quite a lot, supporting her to stand up to him and to tell him what he did was wrong. He did back off and she became stronger. That was a really big breakthrough and took a huge amount of power away from that blue voice.”


Living with voices4
Living with Voices representing?

  • Antje says:

    “A shaman taught me to talk friendly and slowly to my voices, and ask them to go to the place they belong. After three or four weeks, talking three or four time a day to the voices in this friendly, slow way, they slowed down and became quieter. This made is possible to let the voices I’d heard for so many years vanish.”


Living with voices5
Living with Voices representing?

  • Andreas says:

    “I realised that the continuous chain of hatred in the relationship between me and my voices needed a breakthrough. Only when I acknowledged that many things the voices were telling me were true did I become able to forgive them. Only when I asked the angry voices to forgive me did I become less depressed. “


Living with voices6
Living with Voices representing?

  • Ami says:

    “My relationship with my voices changed when I learned to see them as a signal of my problems, when I learned to react positively to them. When they said to me, ‘Look at her, what a disaster’, I looked in the mirror and thought ‘They are right, I should dress properly’. From a negative influence they became a stimulus.”


Living with voices7
Living with Voices representing?

  • Debra says:

    “I also began exploring other areas of my life and discovered what role the voices played in my life: the need to feel connected to someone, a need for a friend, a need to belong. The voices kept me so busy I had no time for any other relationship, and they also spared me the pain and hurt I had experienced by numerous rejections from people in the past. At least they didn’t desert me. I decided I needed to take the risk of inviting real people into my world, and cautiously and clumsily this became my new quest.”


Living with voices8
Living with Voices representing?

  • Rufus says:

    “I believe that, if we can educate people to respect voice hearing and other unusual experiences, there will be a big pressure on psychiatry to change; to stop just trying to repress these experiences, rather than understanding them and helping people to live with them and get on with their lives.”


Living with voices9
Living with Voices representing?

  • Eleanor says:

    “I have had to look down into that black hole and my mind has taken me to some of the worst places that a human mind can go to, but I got through that and I am still here and I am still a voice hearer…It is an incredibly special and unique experience. I am so glad that I have been given the opportunity to see it that way because recovery is a fundamental human right and I shouldn’t be the exception, I should be the rule. That is why I want to be part of this movement to change the way we relate to human experience and diversity.

    Your soul can’t breathe when your mind has been colonised.”


What evidence is this
What ‘ representing? evidence’ is this?

  • These stories can support other voice hearers in their recovery – they contain HOPE

  • These stories prove that there are alternative ways of recovery outside the illness-model directed psychiatry

  • We are in need of research methodologies and publications that personalise experiences and at the same time have sufficient power to convince professionals and usesr to act in a more discovery-oriented way

  • Discovery and recovery are intertwined


Intervoice 2010
Intervoice 2010 representing?

  • November 2 Intervoice Meeting

  • November 3 & 4 Second World Hearing Voices Conference

    Nottingham – Sherwood Forest

    www.intervoiceonline.org

    Contact: dirkcorstens@gmail.com