This is a discourse on how to understand and handle the psychology of voice-hearing. In 2005, at the height of my voice-hearing reality, I wrote a prize-winning poem, “The Sound of Madness,” which I shared in my first Mad In America article, “Creatively Managing Voice-Hearing Through Spiritual Writing.” I would now like to go further into the origin and mechanics of voice-hearing, denoting how my experience with this phenomenon necessitated developing an understanding of the dynamics of good and evil which resulted in the quieting down of the voices. Now, at the beginning of 2016, this understanding has reduced their audibility by 98% without any increases in medication.
My journey with psychiatry began about 38 years ago when I experienced a nervous breakdown from a broken relationship, which resulted in seven days of insomnia followed by behavior where I was a danger to myself (as in attempting to throw myself out the window). I have been taking medication ever since, though more in order to sleep than anything else. Over the years, my diagnosis has changed from schizophrenia to manic-depressive to now schizoid-affective. I don’t believe in any of these diagnoses and have essentially surpassed any form of unscientific pathology psychiatry likes to project.
Now, where did my voice-hearing come into this and how did I overcome it? The cause was metaphysical and esoteric, not something arising from an “ontological defect” as psychiatrists are so prone to determine as the causes for all the mental disorders.
My entry into the world of voice-hearing was unique. I have been a practitioner of yoga for 29 years, not in the way of the current popular hatha yoga, but through the wisdom, readings and meditative practice of jnana and raja yoga. At the outset, I worked with a guru or spiritual teacher to learn the basics of how the ego attempts to foil the Higher Self, though later changed my practice into a unique path of self-exploration that has given me an independence and freedom not focused on the person of one master, but rather on my personal choices.
I was officially initiated into kundalini yoga while on medication, which is a highly unusual sort of situation since most yoga teachers are careful not to give awakenings to individuals with mental disorders. My awakening took years to unfold, insofar as I had to clear much debris stuck in my “subtle anatomy” due to the medication. Regarding the term “subtle anatomy,” psychiatry rejects that concept because it is still stuck in the gross matter aspect of neurochemistry, which is only a small fraction of the energetic field of any individual. Depending on which school of thought one aspires to after graduating from the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm to the quantum field paradigm, one can begin to understand what is meant by “subtle anatomy.”
So from a metaphysical perspective, I began hearing voices due to subtle energetic changes to my third eye chakra, which was open due to my kundalini awakening. An ex-friend had made some holy oil in a careless manner so that it was contaminated, and she placed it on my third eye. Shortly after this experience I began hearing one of the voices that, together with two other voices, would end up torturing me for about ten years, non-stop, day in and day out, pressing my buttons, chattering away and sabotaging my every move – in short, getting in the way of everything. One voice would not stop saying “ugghhh” or “because of her” to bring out my own personal sense of superiority/inferiority around an imaginary rival, while the other two voices, who sounded like the aforementioned broken relationship and former guru, availed themselves of pressing my buttons in the voice-hearing universe.
Let’s backtrack a bit. What are voices? Do they come from the inside or the outside or possibly both? Psychiatrists say they are all inside your head, but you hear them outside your head. So what is the case? What is their source and purpose? How do they read your mind all the time and know what to say to irritate you? Well, there is reason to their madness – it’s for making you mad. Here we enter into the territory of the unseen realms of reality, which according to the Kabbalah, comprise 99% of reality. That’s right; what we consider tangible, including all the dark energy and dark matter of the universe, comprises only a small fraction of reality. So what about these unseen regions? As long as science and its dark child, psychiatry, continue to insist that reality is only that which is visibly measurable, we will get nowhere fast.
Voices don’t exist inside the brain, literally, because the brain is energy and the mind is non-local. Dr. Erin Schuman has proven this in her work, “Theory of Neural Broadcasting,” whereby the firing of the synapse can occur without an electrochemical component, creating a radiant field that resonates into the surrounding cells; in other words, this energetic component proves that the brain is holographic as these non-local fields expand through the brain. Further evidence is provided by biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, who showed in his experiments that people could become aware of when they were being stared at from behind. And yet another body of evidence can be found in accounts of near-death experiences, out of body travel and dream precognition.
So how can we bring this to our understanding of voice-hearing, a seemingly most paranormal of phenomena? Well, there is such a thing as clairaudience, or hearing as a sixth-sensory activity, just as there is clairvoyance and clairsentience. This is where psychiatry fears to tread, because anything not tangible to the five senses is not seen as paranormal but as pathological. This is the mistake psychiatry makes, of lumping all extra-sensory experiences into the pathological category, when there are distinctions to be made. Yes, some perceptions may be hallucinogenic, but some are not, and there’s the rub. The wisdom acquired from introspection, friction and experience, which refines those distinctions so that they can be made with all the more discrimination – these are the fruit of the suffering to be tasted and known by the voice-hearer.
Parenthetically, some metaphysicians who were never diagnosed with anything have safely entered the world of meditative visions and think nothing strange of it; the moment one speaks, however, or brings it up to a doctor who is unfamiliar with this territory of human experience, talk erupts of seeing a psychiatrist. Hence we see the young children who talk to their parents about hearing or seeing angels or unseen friends, who are then put on medication.
But insofar as the voices I experienced are concerned, the source had to do with a kind of initiation I had to progress through as a spiritual aspirant and yogini in my cognition of the constant battle between good and evil forces that this game of creation is perennially engaged in. Had this ex-friend of mine never put that holy oil on my third eye, I would not have plummeted into the depths of often satanic voice-hearing that resulted in three hospitalizations, but I also might not have grown in the maturity that comes with distancing oneself from the drama of life and learning not to take it all so seriously.
So why would voices seem to be out to get you, as they sometimes seem to be? Perhaps the answer lies in paradigms that confront rather than reject the reality of antagonistic paranormal forces. These paradigms suggest that negative voice-hearing arises from dark forces. In Zoroastrianism, which some believe influenced Christianity, there are two forces – the Good or Ahura-Mazda, the mere uttering of whose name brings about a positive frequency, and the adversary, Satan or Ahriman. Dark forces exist, and they are seen in the lesser choices humans make between good and evil; this is due to the gift of free will bestowed upon us from our benevolent Creator.
These dark forces occupy an unseen dimension of the astral realms and are just as much outside of you as they are inside your head. This is not understood by pedestrian logic. The metaphysical logic is that such dark forces taunt you if you have ever done something to upset the cosmic balance in your life. The choices we make forge our destiny and reincarnation as the patterns imprinted on our psyches which cannot be worked through in one lifetime. So on the one hand, if voices make you feel unworthy, they would not be saying it if it had absolutely nothing to do with you. It is nothing to feel guilty about, but something to forgive yourself for.
What helps toward that end is realizing that, on the other hand, voice-hearing has nothing to do with you in the sense that feeling unworthy is essentially something that comes from your ego and hence is not real. Each individual is a fractal of God and is thus perfect in substance at the core. Since it is essentially a loving or friendly universe, it is to one’s upliftment to always make the choice to bring about more fruitful consequences, and hence we act for the good; thereby the Hero’s Journey, as Joseph Campbell would call it, unfolds.
So why would anyone hear negative voices?
Since evil exists, at least on a relative level, and we have not always done good things through the course of our incarnational cycles, there may come a time during those lives when a voice-hearing reality erupts. It can happen to anyone. Calling it pathological is irrelevant. If you get a grip on your voices, knowing full well that they are children of the ego and essentially have nothing to do with you, that is half the battle. Tell your psychiatrist, “I am not my voices, I am not my mental disorder for that matter, I am not even these thoughts I am having, but rather, I am the Knower of these thoughts.” Then see what your psychiatrist will say. Tell him or her that Dr. Deepak Chopra elucidates about the “Knower” in his “Higher Self” audio program. The Knower is known through meditation. Do more meditation and you will take less medication.
Now, what are some tactics used by voices, why should they even do it and what can you do about it? These forces seem to thrive on the energy of emotional pain that’s produced when they drive anger and helplessness into voice-hearers by saying things that press their buttons or relegate them into deeper realms of the ego’s reality. The basic tactic used by voices is that of Schadenfreude – that is, the vicarious thrill at the suffering of others or dejection over their successes – since this comprises a dark streak, however faint or strong, in every human being.
When the hearer is in the midst of personal agony over hearing the voices taunting him or her, here lies the moment when the voice-hearer can turn it around by affirming one alchemical thought of change: “I am worthy of love and respect. I am a fractal of God and I do not take things personally. I approve of myself.” These powerful affirmations, said with conviction, will set the voices going home.
If voices tend to distract the voice-hearer all day, causing exhaustion and resulting in not getting anything done, I recommend getting a timer, and focusing for ten to fifteen minutes at a time on a given project. This timed process can begin with reading self-help books or other activities. I have found that reading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose” is a great way to squelch voices, as long as you observe in yourself what Tolle says concerning what the ego does to remove you from your bliss. If you can admit to yourself what it is about you that is making you miserable and fix it by knowing it is not you – that you are, in essence, beyond any of the lies of the ego – then negative voices will have less to do with you. In being responsible for yourself, you stop accusing the voices, and hence they have little left to do but leave you alone. You must feel all of this at your core. Affirm it, dance it or sing it when nobody’s watching or listening to you; but God and your Higher Self are listening and watching, and angelic guidance is afoot to set it right for you and alleviate your suffering.
If anything, living with noxious voices is one good way to keep busy. Recall the movie Gremlins where the little creatures had to keep on being entertained or fed beer; in this respect, negative voices are like Gremlins, and if you keep your mind on your work, you are less inclined to feel miserable. It is thus important to get a good night’s sleep so that you can brave the day of negative voice-hearing, or get on with life, as it were. Finally, console yourself by remembering that voices are virtually unconscious, a mere force reacting to your reactions.
Once you transform your reactions to their taunting into non-reactive responses, and try to emulate unconditionally how a sage or truth seeker would respond, the voices stay a bit quieter. You have to wield this effort from inside your heart-mind. I once read in a Kabbalah newsletter that the dark foils the light in order to bring us back to the Light. Much as the voices may not be directly aware of this, they do work for the higher Good, because even evil is orchestrated by a force beyond good and evil, which is ultimately the non-dual God.
Healing From Voice-Hearing
I turned 56 in May, 2015, and it has been about 15 years since I started hearing voices. I hope the suggestions in this piece can help desperate voice-hearers become more understanding of the forces behind their agony, and perhaps bring a more enlightened perspective to the chemically-lobotomizing tendencies of their psychiatrists who treat voices with more medication. It was rough for about 10 of the 15 years I heard them full blast (especially in my golden years, my forties, which have come and gone in a flash). I was ready to commit suicide at times, but thought I could not let them win. Why give up a precious human life for a hallucination?
I attribute the healing I experienced, or my eventually coming to terms with the crazy logic of the voices, to intrapsychic changes that allowed me to transmute this toxic reality into a manageable one. These changes have plastered the voices inside their own universe, incapable of resonating with the higher state of consciousness resulting from spiritual growth. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down and know you are more powerful than your voices.
As I write these closing paragraphs, the silence is deafening – the voices are basically gone. I have proven to be victorious, even if this has been an unseen battle. However, as far as I can see, the battle is never really over as long as we have emotional attachments to the things that make up our lives. I occasionally still hear low-decibel Morse code-type subliminals and repetitive musical segments that “mischievous spirits,” as a healer once called them, repeat to bring me down when I start doing well with my schedule of activities. To this, thank electricity for being able to play music over these sounds. It is important to remember how impermanent all of this is, as the Buddhists say about this world of passing, illusory forms. The same is true for voices.
Finally, my most comforting affirmations have been found in a bookmark of St. Teresa of Avila’s words, given to me in a spiritual bookstore: “Let nothing disturb you; nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices.” These words apply to all forms of nervous disorders and should be emblazoned in every introductory psychiatry book in medical schools. Would that the spiritual dimension were integrated into the wasteland of neurochemical explanations of Self!
My basic advice on stopping negative voice-hearing is to invoke the hero within yourself, starting with vanquishing everyday obstacles, bit by bit, and taking your power back from the dark forces that try to trample over the vulnerabilities in your mind. Make your weaknesses your strengths, one step at a time, and finally one day you will see that you will have arrived, and the voices will fall silent once and for all.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.