Fighting for the Freedom to Hear Voices

Jeannie Bass
47
1683

“Happy Birthday, Dear Mary Magdalene, Happy Birthday, to you.”

I didn’t know life was about to become a timeless, magnificent, yet terrifying, and, overall, an endless mission to embrace a birthright I had never known existed. It all began as I stood staring out the window of a Barnes and Noble listening to the sweetest, most angelic voice I had ever borne witness to in my “mortal life” or any other reality. It didn’t matter that to the rest of the world I looked like a disheveled mess, unshowered (but with a TON of makeup on) and wearing the same black outfit I had worn every single day without washing it for at least the last 6 months. This would be the most put together I would appear for close to a year. But none of that mattered, not today, not on the day I was to be reborn. I can honestly say I’ve never felt a more intense flow of pride and purpose wash over me. I was about to find meaning in the vast pain and suffering I had been enduring my entire 20-something years long life. Finally, it made sense that my whole life sucked so colossally; because God was preparing something bigger for me than the excitement I felt when the Social Security Administration made a mistake and let me be my own rep-payee again. I got to go all by myself to cash my monthly disability check at the local Walmart each month and up until then it was one of the highlights of my existence.

In that moment, upon hearing the sweet melody proclaiming me as Mary Magdalene, I was initiated into a twisted, dark version of the gnostic mystery school (delivered via the sanctity of the voices I hear that others don’t) where I would give up earthly concerns to embody my new life as a high priestess and yes, Jesus Christ’s wife.

Mary was, after all, one of the most misunderstood figures in the history of the world, certainly an identity I shared. I may not have spent my afterlife watching as the Catholic Church framed me as a harlot to further their agenda of oppressing women and keeping them out of church leadership (which they publicly but ever so discreetly apologized for in the 1960’s), but I definitely did know what it felt like to be the black sheep. Forget black sheep, I had spent much of my life being the psychedelic sheep.

But standing in that bookstore, as the misfit I was, I would finally belong. The mission was just beginning, and it would take me on the greatest journey of my life, where there were highs, lows, exploitation, magic and a lot of sacred phenomena that is hard to replicate on paper.

It all ended with a bang on a busy bridge in Boston when my car began to run out of gas and a voice commanded loudly, “You will get out of this car and walk in front of the cars coming at you and yes, Mary, they will hit you, but you will finally bestow the world with proof that Mary has been reborn and you are here to rule in your rightful place, as queen. I promise you Mary, you will not die, you will rise to the heavens and be placed back in the mortal world to lead with your husband Jesus. Now go and destroy yourself to create who you were meant to be.”

I watched visions of Jesus on the cross and myself in burgundy, kneeling below him weeping. I knew there was no other choice but to obey. After all, for months it had been just me and my voices. They had proven themselves worthy of loyalty. I stepped out of the car and into the busy traffic on the bridge and heard cars beeping and people screaming about a crazy lady in the road. I smiled, knowing they couldn’t possibly understand; they were not chosen. I probably lasted about two minutes in that scenario before the ambulance showed up.

I don’t even remember them speaking to me or asking my name. I do remember the police, firefighters and paramedics forcefully throwing me on a gurney and handcuffing each of my arms to it. It only got worse from there. They took me to a large Boston hospital where I begged them to listen to my story. I pleaded with them to understand that I had incredible, spiritual work to do. I wanted to heal souls, even souls as black and filthy as theirs.

About the time that I mentioned the hospital staff’s black souls, I found myself tied to a bed being injected with what I can only guess may have been the ever-popular hospital cocktail of Haldol, Ativan and Benadryl that I had the misfortune (and sometimes blessing, due to the environments I was often trapped in) of being forcefully injected with until I was but a shell of a drooling person.

I remember the ER doctor leaning over and whispering that I would forget all about Mary soon. With that confirmation of invalidation, I clung tighter to my beliefs, voices and fears as if my life depended on it. After the institutional traumatization began that would last many months, my voices increased to a magnitude that was hard to hold. There were varying storylines — some protective, many holy and important, a few frightening and evil, and others commanding me to create mischief in the psych hospital. It also left me with more comical, unabashedly fun beliefs such as those that would lead to a marriage with an astronaut at the smoke shack after days of reading Anais Nin’s Diary to one of my fellow patients.

My voices taught me to stop thinking and stop responding and started transmitting all the thoughts and interactions I would ever need through them. They had all of the control because it was me and them against the world.

One common theme was the hospital staff’s lack of interaction with me about my experiences. Never once was I asked, “Are you hearing voices?” or “Can you share with me what you’re experiencing?” or “What are they saying?” or “Wow, that prayer sounds really meaningful to you, can you share it with us?” Forget trying to help me out of the rabbit hole, what about at least acknowledging that what I was experiencing so intensely was very much a real experience for me? Instead, they strategized how to medicate the voices out of me, and beat me into submission through the use of mental and physical force every chance they got. As I’ve since learned, this approach is sometimes called “a show of support.” But who were they supporting? Certainly not me or my voices.

We were caught in a tug of war. They wanted my voices gone. I was not going to let go of my voices, my confidants and protectors, regardless of what they did to me.

Probably scarier than anything in my own unique realities, or even consensus reality, was the day I became aware that I was “hearing voices.” I was at a program after being discharged as a complete disaster. While sitting in a group therapy session with an old dirty winter coat that possessed magical powers draped over me and rocking to the tune of my voices’ chants, I would somehow absorb a woman’s story — that she heard voices that others around her were not hearing. I don’t know why, or if the holy spirit really was in me, but much to my own surprise, I stood up and started screaming, “That’s me, I’m hearing voices too, I hear voices!”

An existential crisis was about to begin; the threat of my voices leaving me was almost too much to continue on with. I ran the four flights down to the smoking area of the program, shrieking and crying that I didn’t want anyone to take my voices away. That day I became very lucky more than once. Not only did the program staff take me back upstairs and try to convince me I was strong enough to get through this fear instead of admitting me to the inpatient unit next door, but later that night, when my breakdown continued and I begged my mother to take me to the emergency room and have me admitted to my safe zone, I would meet an ER doctor who quite likely changed the entire course of my life. He told me that hearing voices was okay and many people heard voices and stayed out of the hospital. He suggested I go back to the program and figure out a way to live with voices instead of hiding out in a hospital, where the problem, my voices, would still be waiting for me upon discharge.

I was experiencing severe akathisia (a feeling of needing to move nonstop) from antipsychotics, and I was desperate for water from the ridiculous dose of lithium inhabiting my body, but despite my terrible physical state, I took in what the doctor had to say.

I paced, sucking on ice chips, and allowed myself to have an independent thought for the first time in months. I asked myself, “Is this true, it’s really okay to hear voices?”

I don’t know what his motivation was, but that doctor planted a seed in me that I had never thought possible, and that none of the professionals managing my life had ever presented — that hearing voices was normal and didn’t mean I needed to be locked away.

I chose to go home that night. For the first time in the history of my life, I was evaluated in an ER and got to walk out by choice, with my civil rights intact. For the next several months I spent every waking minute working with my voices. It all began with a shred of hope that I could find some common ground with my voices, an idea someone would later call grandiose.

The drive to never return to another inpatient hospital after all the atrocities of my last admission was propelling me forward despite the fear that things would never change. And what a lonely road it was, thinking I was the only one in the world trying desperately to survive in a world where hearing voices was shunned and feared by those around me. Still I kept on, but never dreamed I’d create a life with meaning, passion, and purpose. That wasn’t something people like me could have.

It would be a long road that involved a totally new and foreign concept in my life, peer support, after a friend who I had gone to a day treatment program with introduced me to the Northeast Recovery Learning Community (NERLC) in Eastern Massachusetts, one of 6 organized “peer” communities across the state of Massachusetts. There I unlocked the life-changing wisdom that I was not trapped as a passive victim like I had been made to believe. Granted, it would take quite a while before I would find some type of collaboration with my voices, but the NERLC truly gave me hope that I could not only survive but thrive outside of the programs and treatment that had become my existence. I saw all the people who were working there doing it which gave me hope that I could join them.

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.

I begged the Northeast Recovery Learning Community to send me to an HVN-USA facilitator training in Western Massachusetts. I ended up taking the training twice. The first time I went, I wasn’t totally prepared for what they would ask of me. They didn’t say I wasn’t schizophrenic or schizoaffective or any of the other diagnoses people threw at me. However, they did ask me to suspend those labels (and other language the medical model uses to box my experiences up) for the duration of the training.

I could be normal for hearing voices, but I could not, under any circumstances, give up seeing myself as broken and mentally ill. I had to flee back to the safety of my so-called “illness,” but the time I had spent with the amazing trainers from the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community stayed in my bones. And I had slowly moved away from seeing myself as fundamentally broken and helpless through immersing myself further into the world of “recovery” (or whatever you prefer to call the journey of finding out you weren’t who they told you you were) and peer support with the Northeast Recovery Learning Community.

The next time I returned to Western Massachusetts, things were different. My heart was open, and I was free to be myself. I went on to facilitate an HVN group in my community and later found other ways to get involved in the hearing voices movement. Later I would join the Hearing Voices Network USA Board of Directors and have the opportunity to be part of planning and bringing the 2017 World Hearing Voices Congress to United States soil for the first time. Living the dream doesn’t even begin to describe how the last 6 years of my life have been.

The most important lesson I learned from all my years in hellish treatment, and in my current position as a full-time Peer Specialist in a psych hospital, is that hearing voices is seen as fundamentally wrong and something that needs to be diminished or even more so eradicated as fast as possible. And sure, there are voice hearers who want their voices gone. But living trapped in that cycle of wanting to push my voices away while simultaneously guarding their presence with my life was like burning in hell while also watching it rain just out of reach to experience the cooling relief of the raindrops. I had come to realize, though, that as soon as I accepted my voices with all their fundamental flaws and idiosyncrasies, the process of accepting myself began.

As the 10th annual World Hearing Voices Congress gets closer, which is set to take place in the birthplace of the hearing voices movement, The Hague (Netherlands), I can’t help but reflect on this year’s theme “Living with Voices: A Human Right.” It immediately calls to mind how vital this movement is, and also the degree of madness that the mental health system goes to in order to convince us we do not have the right to hear voices. No one should be trying to take that away from us, especially without our consent. Instead of trying to medicate the voices into oblivion, the world would be better served by raising awareness that hearing voices is a normal yet highly unique experience — one that, if necessary, we can and should work to take our autonomy back from and find power “with” rather than “over” voices. What a wonderful world it would be if voice hearers were free of shame and fear of arrest or hospitalization if they chose to walk down the street negotiating with their voices instead of feeling compelled to obey. As I’ve found out, the struggle to collaborate with voices may always exist, but the misery of feeling all alone and helpless can be alleviated.

I facilitate an affiliated HVN group at the hospital where I work, and I often say to people when they are deep into the struggle with their voices that there really aren’t any guarantees or promises I can make about their path — and often struggles — as voice hearers, but I can look them in the eyes and promise them that I know, with absolute certainty, that they are not alone. There are millions of us all over the world; we aren’t going anywhere. Denying our reality is the same as threatening our existence.

And, in my experience, labeling my reality as wrong resulted in me holding on even tighter to the visions, voices, beliefs and other unique experiences that had taken over my life. For many of us, that means we are robbed of the right to change our minds and explore what’s happening; effectively we are kept stuck as prisoners to alternative realities. However, the grassroots hearing voices movement has been going strong for 30+ years and will continue to allow others to step into their own power and regain the freedom lost from our fractured society that sees us as the problem.

Our movement, right from the beginning with Patsy Hage, Marius Romme and Sandra Escher, has paved the way for voice hearers to finally be “seen” as wholly human. Creating a community that would accept us and the voices we hear, fully. We do not have to live at the mercy of a world that only accepts what it can personally understand. We have the right to hear voices and no longer be hidden away in the attic of taboo and misunderstood experiences. The freedom to hear voices is truly a fundamental human right.

For more information on the hearing voices movement, go to http://www.intervoiceonline.org or http://www.hearingvoicesusa.org.

To learn more about the 10th annual World Hearing Voices Congress happening September 13th & 14th (with Intervoice Day on the 12th and a public event on the 15th) in the Netherlands, check out http://10thworldhearingvoicescongress.nl.

47 COMMENTS

  1. THAT IS RIGHT. FIGHT FOR THE PSYCHE, FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL MINORITIES. STATE FIGHT OFF THE HUMAN PSYCHE USING INQUISITION IN THE MEDICAL DISGUISE.
    FIGHT WITH APOLLONIAN EGO HEGEMONY AND FALSE SEMANTICS. FIGHT THEM OFF.

    JAMES HILLMAN – RE -VISIONNING PSYCHOLOGY

    FIGHT WITH RATIONAZISM. FIGHT!

  2. At the session of the UN Human Rights Council, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’adAl Hussein again called for the exclusion of psychiatric coercion, as an absolutely unacceptable violation of human rights.. This proposal must be supported! I suggest You appeal thither and support the resolution. Here are the addresses you need to contact:
    [email protected] [email protected] Telephone +41 22 917 9220
    OHCHR address:
    Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    Palais Wilson
    52 rue des Pâquis
    CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
    Everyone, in whom the soul and mind lives is to support it today!

    • Any further information on this Lametamor. A link perhaps to the proposal?

      When the UN criticised Australias MH Laws as being a violation of human rights and that the treatments may constitute torture, our politicians introduced new laws that are worse. By doing so they have invalidated the statement, and are violating human rights at increasing levels.
      But they did act on the statement, and are now going to ensure that there is no avenue to appeal any decision in the future.
      If you provide information to the UN about human rights abuses and in the process damage Australias reputation, you can be held without charge for years. Pending charges on espionage. Bill has gone to the Senate for debate.
      No need to do the right thing, just make it look like it.
      Hopefully our ‘model’ will not be mirrored around the world the way our aparthied was in South Africa.

      • We have a history in this country of enacting unconstitutional law to achieve outcomes, and then overturning the laws.
        People in my State were exercising their right to congregate and protest at one stage. Enter S.54b of the Criminal Code. This made it unlawful to gather in groups of more that 3 in a public place without authorisation from the State. Police then smashed the Unions protests. Fair days work for a fair days pay my ar#e. 11 years later with the job done, the High court ruled the law unconstitutional, and we could go back to having coffee with friends without a permit from the State lol

          • Western Australian law.
            Draconian alright, couldn’t protest it though, couldn’t get a permit, and without one you got a belt from a baton the the head from someone on a horse.

            They’ve basically used the same method with MH laws in the States now. They know they are human rights violations but …… see how far you get with a complaint. About as far as your local locked ward lol

            And should they get the forced sterilization through? 11 years before a High Court decision? …… sorry, already done.

          • Did their best to Steve. The ‘architect’ of the Mental Health Bill presented to Parliament was an epidemiologist. Think he might have noticed the problems with FASD (Fetal alchohol spectrum disorder). This is going to cost us some money, especially in places like Fitzroy Crossing. Sterilizing a whole bunch of indigenous children is going to raise some concerns given our history with the Stolen Generation. But, the new nearby psych ward and the laws to back them …….
            Thankfully the Scientologists and some people outside the country made a few complaints and they dropped it. Though I read that there are still methods being used to ‘coerce’ consent.

            https://youtu.be/QPYRpFxl4oE

            They say the place glistens when you fly in from all the broken alcohol bottles around the town.

      • «Any further information on this Lametamor. A link perhaps to the proposal?»
        I could not find the addresses of the page about the High Commissioner’s report on the Internet. I assume this information is not published intentionally. Nevertheless, I can publish here a part of the text of the report. Although there are earlier publications. For example, a report on the same topic in May: https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23080&LangID=E
        «When the UN criticised Australias MH Laws as being a violation of human rights and that the treatments may constitute torture, our politicians introduced new laws that are worse.»
        Yes, authorities in separate countries do not agree to exclude psychiatric coercion. Even to discuss this refuse. And this is due primarily to passivity, the lack of proper solidarity of the protesters. The authorities respond only to active, persistent, solidarity-based demands. This is the property of power.

  3. “In that moment, upon hearing the sweet melody proclaiming me as Mary Magdalene, I was initiated into a twisted, dark version of the gnostic mystery school (delivered via the sanctity of the voices I hear that others don’t) where I would give up earthly concerns to embody my new life as a high priestess and yes, Jesus Christ’s wife.

    Mary was, after all, one of the most misunderstood figures in the history of the world, certainly an identity I shared. I may not have spent my afterlife watching as the Catholic Church framed me as a harlot to further their agenda of oppressing women and keeping them out of church leadership (which they publicly but ever so discreetly apologized for in the 1960’s), but I definitely did know what it felt like to be the black sheep.”

    Great article on life’s experience Jeannie. Feels like you were experiencing the inner marriage of your human nature, as a product of male and female genetics. I identify wholeheartedly with your understanding of how both Jesus and Mary are the most misunderstood characterizations of the Human Condition, in the history of the written word.

    Most probably because of our early life adaptation to the survival skills of literacy and numeracy sees us grow to normal adulthood, convinced that word recognition is a true recognition of reality. While the sudden dissolution of this adaptive skill removes the veil that languages throw over the nature of reality.

    “Look Mummy I see clouds,” says the beautiful young girl who is simultaneously dancing with delight.

    If she is lucky, mum will introduce her to the conception that ‘clouds’ is simply a signifying symbol of what she saw with her eyes, just as she is about to undergo the second brain growth spurt of adolescence, thereby grounding her sense of her own reality with a simultaneous balance of thought & felt sense-ability.

    So I guess my question of your experience of hearing a beautiful angelic voice, as though coming from the other side of your mortality, is, does it come from the subconscious foundation of your conscious mind?

    Was the Mary Magdalene perception of the experience, a sense of inner wisdom about the profound paradox of our human motivation & perception, of which the New Testament story is a Parable? Is that famous story to be read ‘metaphysically’ and ‘otherworldly’ or ‘metaphorically?’

    Certainly, the experience of a sudden dissolution to the consensus-reality world of word recognition has felt somewhat otherworldy in my own euphoric sensations of oneness, which a treatment-oriented medical vocation diagnosed as an experience of affective psychosis or bipolar disorder. But I learned to heed Jesus warning about being a scribe and stopped trying to ascribe words to an overwhelming sense of Creation.

    Some say that perception is always based on perspective and the right answers to problems must be proceeded by the right questions. And in my eleven-year post-medicalization journey of drug-free self-regulation, I learned to ask myself existential questions like: how are my thoughts energized.

    “Being Human I walk and talk. How, do I do that?’ Learning over time (whatever time is) to be ok with the uncertainty wrought by the thought; “I don’t know.” Even though its a thought that kindles a feeling of insecurity within my body.

    BTW Did you know that during Jesus and Mary’s lifetime there was a debate about the conception of a universal calendar (Catholic means Universal, btw) and whether it should be based on the solar (I and the father are one) or lunar cycle of the Passover. And perhaps because the female menstrual cycle follows the lunar period cycle, performance anxiety riddled men, decided to confine the lunar affect on human evolution to the dustbin of history.

    And one wonders why James Joyce said: history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken.

    Or why Plato said: I fear at last to see myself as nothing but words.

    My eyes, my ears, my nostrils, my mouth. Two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and one mouth. Could these be the seven assemblies in the Book of Revelation? Seven assemblies formed within the skull, and the place of Jesus Crucifixion?

    And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. Mark, 15:22.

    “Is the self a symbol of Christ, or is Christ a symbol of the self?” -Carl Jung

    Be well Jeannie.

  4. “Our movement, right from the beginning with Patsy Hage, Marius Romme and Sandra Escher, has paved the way for voice hearers to finally be “seen” as wholly human. Creating a community that would accept us and the voices we hear, fully. We do not have to live at the mercy of a world that only accepts what it can personally understand. We have the right to hear voices and no longer be hidden away in the attic of taboo and misunderstood experiences. The freedom to hear voices is truly a fundamental human right.”

    I’m not sure that rights apply — I mean, you’re hearing voices, it’s not like you went out and got a license for it. There is nothing in any foundational legal document anywherere that talks about hearing voices as a “right.” It is not, after all, something one chooses to do. Otherwise I completely agree.

      • Exactly!

        But even the mystical saints had their problems with their mystical experiences in the Middle Ages. St. Theresa of Avila saw visions of Jesus and heard messages from him. When she told her confessor the priest told her that she was absolutely wrong, Jesus wasn’t appearing to her and that she had to stop the nonsense before she really got herself in trouble with the Church authorities. She asked him what she was supposed to do when Jesus appeared to her and he told her to essentially give him the Middle Ages equivalent of the finger, which she did. She stated that Jesus wasn’t impressed nor bothered and went on with his message to her!

    • Is voice hearing a right? Yes, indeed. Madness should be 1. demedicalized, and 2. decriminalized. Madness is a right, too, if an unacknowledged right. You don’t break the law by going mad. Madness isn’t, technically speaking, against the law. A loophole in the rule of law, mental health law, exists that allows madness to be treated as if it were a violation of law. Close that loophole, and mistreating people for eccentric or different behavior becomes a crime, not medicine. As our chances of closing that loophole in a more direct fashion are remote right now, we still have the UN’s (Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities) CRPD, that is, international law, to act as a hold on such should be criminal detentions. If we can make forced treatment against international law, well, there you go: demedicalized, decriminalized, Madness. Is this argument mad? I don’t think so. I think the real opposition is between, not madness and “normality”, but wisdom and folly.

      • I wouldn’t waste a whole lot of breath explaining that kind of thing to a psychiatrist seeing as he might not share your view. According to law, you have no right to be left alone if a shrink declares you “mentally ill”. It’s posted on the walls of facilities all over the place. “You have a right to mental health treatment.” As for your right to refuse treatment for “mental illness”. Search the premises. All you will find is silence.

        • I would agree. The vast majority of psychiatrists I’ve encountered are completely disinterested or threatened by my view of the “mental health” world. There are a few odd exceptions here and there, but I’d say over 95% are not worth wasting my breath on. And that’s not a generalization, that’s a summary of my own observations. In fact, I’d say that the less advanced degree the person has, the more likely they are able to hear contrasting viewpoints without feeling threatened.

  5. Hi, my sister was having conversations with world leaders for years until they discovered that she was having seizures. The kind you just stare briefly and so no one noticed her seizing. Non of us minded her conversations in fact we liked it. One time she was walking thru the mall and a friend was behind her. The friend started to call to her by saying her name . She pressed on ignoring the friend saying her name until her hubby said “someone is trying o get your attention’ to which she proclaimed “you hear it too!” We just laugh and enjoy the gift of the uniquiness of the afliction…she’s is so much more boring now with her seizure medication. Frequently the medical community fails to check for seizure disorders as a cause. They lable it some form of Schitzophrenia and drug the person into oblivion. But not all people afflicted get treatment. If they want treatment they present their symptoms, or, if they are a danger to themselves the possibility exhists that they are a danger to others and if they are walking in the street with the intention to get hit because “God told them to” The hazrd to self exists. when they are plucked from the street by EMS and taken to the hospital where they are combative and calling perfectly nice people they don’t know “dark souls” this presents as a hazrd o others. In these cases it is nessessary to sedate and try to calm the voices with meds until it can be figured out what is causing them or the person can learn how to be in charge of their reactions to the voices. It sounds like that is what has prevailed with you that you hear the voices but they can no longer make you a hazard to yourselves or others(hopefully). Not everyone can accomplish what you have. It was a long hard journey and the resources were not presented to you, which really needs to be resolved. All Medical facilities that may encounter these issues should be armed with a plan of helping the person live healthy and sound with their voices if they want to keep them or if they can’t be remedied. It was your own effort to find them, do it, and go back after you weren’t ready the first time which takes a great amount of moxy!
    Too many issues are approached with anger instead of fair assessment of the situation from both sides of the issue. The other side of this would be that people have reason to be leary of people that hear voices. Unless they are premonitions that come true, or psychic visions that also come true, these voices are a sign that something has gone wrong in the brain and the fact is these people can be dangerous. It is natural for people to be leary of things that go against nature or are just not fully functional because it is in our DNA to survive. So instead of asking people to deny their natural instincts of survival. It would be benificial and it may find a larger audience of understanding, if the conversation is begun by giving the audience some understanding. Even if they don’t always deserve it.

    • I once read a novel about a modern day nun in a religious order who had visions from God. Of course this caused a lot of commotion for everyone. Eventually she is told by a medical doctor that her visions are a sign of a physical problem that needed to be taken care of with surgery on her brain. She found herself in a very difficult position almost impossible to resolve. She wanted to believe that her visions were truly from God and yet everyone was telling her that they were the product of a broken brain. Her situation gave me a lot to think about as I was a hospital chaplain at the time and it caused a lot of questions for me that I found very difficult to answer.

  6. A Comment Across the Pond on Mad in the UK, which the moderator may consider off-topic, from the perspective of hearing voices, and consider deleting. We shall see.

    MAD IN AMERICA & The Cyber-Cerebral Echo Chamber of Like-Minded Souls?

    “Say What!”

    It’s interesting (a word I tend to use whenever I experience the living breathing phenomena expressed in the words “I don’t Know”) that there so few comments on this introductory blog post for MadintheUK. While across the pond on the parent webzine Mad in America we can see the numbers 1457 eye views and 41 comments.

    While my question about the cyber-cerebral echo-chamber of like-minded souls comes from reading Barak Obama’s legacy speech and making a mental note of his warning about the dangers of withdrawing into gated communities and the twitter-verse echo chambers of public opinion, as news.

    While here in the calendar year 2018, as the occupational vocation known as psychiatry is trying to come to terms with the truth that psychiatric diagnosis is no more than opinion. Should survivors and medical practitioners look to the past and recognize the true value of lived-experience?

    A question I ask, from the certainty that no psychiatrist or well-educated PhD’s under the Sun, can think, say or write a single word about HOW they perform the two quintessential human behaviors of walking and talking.

    Furthermore, as a survivor, I ask an existential question of well educated psychiatric opinion, as a form of subconscious orchestrated expectation; Is a recognition of words, a whole-self perception of reality?

    “What do you see when you look in a mirror?” I survivor asked, Robert Whitaker. And although Robert reported this existential question in one his blog posts he did not type any words about what he perceives when he does look in a mirror, at the reflection of his own face.

    And of course, it’s considered bad form to point out inconvenient truths or ask the wordy-wise educated elites to give a first-person account of their own experience. They much prefer the third-person dichotomy of a mind that perceives itself from the outside looking in.

    So, in the endless polemic of re-thinking psychiatry, I wonder if it’s at all possible to re-phrase psychiatric perceptions as opinions and contemplate Socrates life lesson question of youth; is opinion knowledge?

    Does the debate about medications ever mention the words; self-regulation?

    Is it because wordy-wise academics, like everyone else, have no idea HOW they DO being Human?

    And as we see quite clearly the wisdom of lived-experience in Jeannie’s capacity to be the wounded healer, as she facilitates personal growth work in hearing voices groups. Should we contemplate the lived wisdom of the so-called past and learn the Socratic method of dissolving our own self-deception? Please consider:

    SOCRATES: I would have you imagine, that there exists in the mind of man a block of wax, which is of different sizes in different men; harder, moister, and having more or less of purity in one than another, and in some of an intermediate quality.

    THEAETETUS: I see.

    SOCRATES: Let us say that this tablet is a gift of Memory, the mother of the Muses; and that when we wish to remember anything which we have seen, or heard, or thought in our own minds, we hold the wax to the perceptions and thoughts, and in that material receive the impression of them as from the seal of a ring; and that we remember and know what is imprinted as long as the image lasts; but when the image is effaced, or cannot be taken, then we forget and do not know.

    THEAETETUS: Very good.

    SOCRATES: Now, when a person has this knowledge and is considering something which he sees or hears, may not false opinion arise in the following manner?

    THEAETETUS: In what manner?

    SOCRATES: When he thinks what he knows, sometimes to be what he knows, and sometimes to be what he does not know.

    An excerpt from Plato’s, THEAETETUS.

    “At last, I feared to see myself nothing but words.” -Plato

    “sometimes you have to lose your mind and come into your senses.” -Fritz Pearls

  7. Psychiatric coercion is criminal by its very nature. Person never deserves such neglect and such destructive evaluations. Whatever his thoughts and aspirations, on whatever he insisted. Even if a person represents a danger all the same – “curing” him of his own individuality is – absolutely criminal !!!

  8. I sent to the address [email protected] this text and I propose everyone to send their messages there:
    Dear members of the council! I appeal to you as an absolute opponent of psychiatric coercion. I fully support the position of Supreme Commissar Zeid Ra’adAl Hussein! Psychiatric coercion should be excluded from acceptable in human community measures. I quote excerpts from the 2015 petition https://goo.gl/sMnJ6y https://goo.gl/sMnJ6y
    «All people are equal in the rights.
    Everybody in the equal measure is endowed by the all declared human rights in the independence how a man looks, thinks, what kind of ideals he has.
    We emphasize – the respect in full measure rights of all people, of every human, conforms fundamental goals and essence of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    We insist, that any usage the psychiatric lexicon is absolutely cynically and offensively for human dignity. We insist, that a determination of a will, senses, aspirations of human as a symptom of a disease is a monstrous perversion of the fundamental principles of morality and legality! That such determination leads to the cancellation of a legal personality of a human, of a complete decrease of his human value and thus justifies all forms of violence. In fact it leads to the denial of a recognize a human as a human! This is the absolutely racist, misanthropic ideology!
    We proclaim – the legalized psychiatric coercion is a one of most monstrous methods of a reprisal with objectionable people. Impacts, being applied against a human in the psychiatry – such as electroshock, psychosurgery, the impact of neuroleptics – destroy a human essence. They literally crumble his soul, mind, senses, aspirations, his flesh and bone. The psychiatric “treatment” is an incredible torture and destroying a human. We deny that the United Nations General Assembly has the right, supporting this biological racist doctrine, to exclude the part of the humanity from a recognition as human beings.
    We insist on the absolute necessity to recognize psychiatric coercion as the crime against humanity and to exclude it from acceptable in the human community measures»
    I assert that in many times more people signed this petition! But their signatures deliberately not were not taken account.

  9. It’s interesting to me that people who hear voices comprise quite a large number when you look at things on a world wide basis. It is part of the continuum of what it means to be human. And when you look at other cultures you begin to find that it’s mainly Western culture that denies voice hearing and seems to be totally afraid of it. It’s mainly in Western cultures that we try to stamp it out at all costs, no matter what the person wants.

    There is an anthropologist named Tanya Lurhman who has done research about voice hearing across different cultures and how those cultures respond to it. I find her work interesting. And she’s done work concerning Christians who claim that they receive messages from God. She can be found on Youtube

  10. Jeannie, thanks for describing your experiences and what they mean to you, as well as the freedoms that you’ve discovered and shared. It’s an honor and a pleasure to get to know you and to share your values. I look forward to hearing more from you.