Hearing voices

“Researchers at Bangor University are planning to delve into the psyches of people who hear voices, but are not mentally ill.

They say contrary to popular belief, hearing voices is a phenomenon common to all cultures around the world and is a positive experience for most people.

Estimates suggest that at least 4% of the UK population have experienced hearing voices or ‘clairaudience’.

But little is known or understood about the phenomenon as those who do hear voices often do not tell others and it is thought that the actual number is higher than 4%.

PhD student, Katy Thornton, from the university’s School of Psychology, hopes to study people across Wales who are untroubled by the experience of hearing voices.

She said: ‘Contrary to popular belief, the fact that a person hears voices does not automatically mean that they have mental health problems. The majority of people who hear voices have benign or positive experiences. Hearing voices is different for each person. Some find it a spiritual experience; others may feel that their voice is another part of themselves. Some people get help and support from their voices while other people’s voices just talk about mundane matters. Each person experiences it differently – it might be a disembodied voice or it might be their own thoughts with somebody else speaking them.’

Miss Thornton will spend the next six months cataloguing the experiences of those who hear voices.

Historically, hearing voices was considered an important, meaningful and in some cases divine experience. Many important religious figures have heard voices, as have influential thinkers such as Socrates, Carl Jung and Ghandi. Today hearing voices is still seen as a gift in most non-Western cultures, says Miss Thornton.

Psychology lecturer Dr David Linden, who will supervise Miss Thornton’s research, says the experiences of people who are relaxed about clairaudience is an under-researched area. He said, “In clinical practice we would normally encounter patients who hear voices and are distressed by them. However, we don’t know what it’s like to hear voices and not be troubled by them and we’ve not paid the phenomenon enough attention.

Those taking part will be interviewed and asked to complete a questionnaire about themselves and their experience. They will also have a brain scan.

Miss Thornton says she is not going into the work with any pre-conceived notions. ‘I’m not making any prior psychiatric or spiritual assumptions about these phenomena.’”
This article appeared in the Western Mail on May 2nd.

Posted by: Eleanor

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3 responses to “Hearing voices

  1. i hear voices and its a former friend of mine. Apparently she says she placed some satanic curse on me. i have been to a psychiatrist and diagnose me having major depression. the medication i was placed on did not help and there was several different kinds. I truly believe this is spiritual. When i tried to confront this friend she refused to open her door. She knew i realized what she was doing. I an interested in knowing the follow up on your experiment. Sincerely, rose

  2. INTERVOICE
    International Network for Training Education and Research into Hearing Voices
    http://www.intervoiceonline.org
    1st June 2007
    Press Release: For immediate release

    International hearing voices movement launches website

    Today sees the launch of a new international website for hearing voices providing a gateway for all things to do with people who hear voices (aka auditory hallucinations). The launch takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark, where representatives of the eighteen nations involved in working on the issue of hearing voices are holding their annual meeting.

    http://www.intervoiceonline.org is not only the most extensive resource for people who hear voices that can be found on the web, but it also presents a very different way of thinking about the meaning of hearing voices.

    Professor of Psychiatry, Marius Romme, the president of INTERVOICE, the organisation hosting the website said:

    “We think our site is very distinctive from the way mental health and psychiatric sites usually provide information about hearing voices. For a start we do not automatically assume that hearing voices is in itself a problem. On this site we have not only provided information about ways of overcoming the difficulties faced by the estimated 4% of women, men and children who hear voices across the world, but have also provided information about the more positive aspects of the experience as well as the cultural, alternative and spiritual perspectives, recognising the historical significance of this important variation in human behaviour.”

    On the web site you can find:

    Peoples stories, both those of voice hearers and people who work with voice hearers as well as stories of hope and recovery.
    A challenge to the medical model and ideas psychiatry has about voices as well as information about a more empowering and helpful alternative.
    Information about the work and the contact details for all of the hearing voices groups and networks working across the world.
    Information about research and publications on this new ways of thinking and working
    A news service, an events calander and a links page to other helpful organsiations and sites
    Professor Romme added:

    “Most importantly, because hearing voices is a much stigmatised experience we wanted to create a safe place where people can find out more about hearing voices and to create an interactive online community where people can let us know about their point of view or experience. This means that site visitors can comment on all of the articles we have published and if they wish contribute their own articles too. We hope you find you visit to this site stimulating and positive – and most importantly – hope you will link to the site from your own websites and let everybody know about it.”

    END

    Information for Editors

    INTERVOICE was formed in 1997 and is now is made up of 18 member countries, to date these include Australia, Austria, Denmark, England, Finland, Germay, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Wales (with further initiatives being launched in India and Iceland this year).

    INTERVOICE Annual Meeting Every year, INTERVOICE holds a meeting of supporters, where we discuss new research and practice issues related to hearing voices. The meeting is also an opportunity for the national networks to discuss their work and to provide mutual support to each other. A very important and unusual feature of the INTERVOICE supporters meeting is that all countires are represented by a voice hearer and a worker, or as we call them an expert by experience and an expert by profession. This years meeting is being held in Copenhagen, next year we meet in Australia.

    World Hearing Voices Day, 14th September, 2007 This will be the second world event. Last year 14 countires participated. The idea for the day was put forward by Louise Pembroke, a well known voice hearer and psychiatric survivor from England, The World Hearing Voices Day is a:
    celebration of hearing of voices as part of the diversity of human experience and increase awareness of the fact you can hear voices and be healthy;
    challenges negative attitudes towards people who hear voices or the incorrect assumption that this is in itself a sign of an illness, an assumption made about them that is not based on their own experiences, is stigmatising, isolating and makes people ill;
    raises awareness of the issues facing the estimated 4% of women, men and children who hear voices across the world.
    For more information or any other queries email admin@intervoiceonline.org

  3. Thank you so much Paul for that press release, the website looks really interesting

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