Hearing, not heeding voices
We all hear voices inside our heads.
That doesn’t make us insane, that makes us in touch. It’s a sign that we’re connected to the deeper currents within ourselves. Sadly, voice hearing or auditory hallucinations have been associated with madness and schizophrenia and psychosis. Because that’s something crazy people do. No need to pay attention to the content or the experience of that voice.
However, there was famous study conducted in the late eighties about the relationships between voice hearers and their experiences. Romme wondered why this experience was stigmatized, rather than being accepted as a normal aspect of the human experience. And what his research found was, the experience hearing voices could actually be seen as an integral part of people’s daily lives. Mental wellness wasn’t about the presence or absence of voices, he found, but a person’s ability to cope with them.
And so, he taught patients to set boundaries as to when they would attend to the voices. To talk back to them constructively. And to listen to them selectively. That way, instead of feeling terrified and powerless in the face of their experiences, they could take an active, constructive stance in which the voices were accepted and valuable in their lives.
Romme’s research was so successful, in fact, he went on to establish several organizations and movements around hearing voices, advocating that the experience wasn’t necessarily an indication of mental illness, rather, an opportunity for people enter into an honest conversation with themselves.
The point is, whatever our state of mental health us, each of us need to accept that these voices are a part of us. They’re not something we need to kill, we simply need to find a way to put our arm around them and say, thank you for sharing.
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How are you framing the inner dialogue you have with yourself?
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