Workshop#1: Accepting Voices – Thu 29th Nov 2018

Pleased to announce, in community partnership with Inner City Family Health Team, this special opportunity to participate in our highly valued “liberating” , emancipatory”,  even “universe-tilting” Workshop #1: Accepting Voices.

This workshop offers a beginning, an introduction to a non-diagnostic, non-medical,  human experience perspective understanding of the kinds of experiences – like difficult-to-hear voices- that are often categorised as “psychosis”.

A key part is making connections between pain, trauma psychosis powerlessness and disconnectedness we can experience when we find ourselves feared and discarded by society.
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Posted in Event, Healing, hearing voices, human diversity, Ideas, making sense of "mental illlness", psychosis | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

blah blah blah – Armin van Buuren

All we ever hear from you is blah blah blah
So, all we ever do is go ya ya ya
And we don’t even care about what they say
‘Cause it’s ya ya ya ya
Blah blah blah blah

Blah Blah Blah  – Lyrics

Armin van Buuren


State of trance, how you feelin’?
If you’re ready for this let me see those hands and
Clap, clap come on
All we ever do is go ya ya ya
And we don’t even care about what they say
‘Cause it’s ya ya ya ya
Blah blah blah blah
All we ever hear from you is blah blah blah
So, all we ever do is go ya ya ya
And we don’t even care about what they say
‘Cause it’s ya ya ya ya
Blah blah blah blah
All we ever hear from you is blah blah blah blah blah blah
All we ever hear from you is blah blah blah
So, all we ever do is go ya ya ya
And we don’t even care about what they say
‘Cause it’s ya ya ya ya
Blah blah blah blah
All we ever hear from you is blah blah blah
So, all we ever do is go ya ya ya
And we don’t even care about what they say
‘Cause it’s ya ya ya ya
Blah blah
All we ever hear from you is blah blah blah
So, all we ever do is go ya ya ya
And we don’t even care about what they say
‘Cause it’s ya ya ya ya
Blah blah blah blah
All we ever hear from you is blah blah blah
So, all we ever do is go ya ya ya
And we don’t even care about what they say
‘Cause it’s ya ya ya ya
Blah blah blah blah
Songwriters: Armin van Buuren / Joshua Peter Record / Andrew James Bullimore
Blah Blah Blah lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
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Hearing Voices Group Toronto | Fall 2018

Ninth year. new location!
We’re moving downtown.

  • The Where
    Inner City Family Health Team – ICFHT
    4th Floor
    69 Queen St East 
  • The When
    Dates –  see poster
    Times-  6:00pm to 7:30pm

1. Take the stairs or the the smellyvator to 4th floor.

2. ICFHT operates a clinic on Thur eves which we’re not part of.  You’ll come through reception and sign in/out – be nice eh?

More about Inner City FHT :

  • The WTF?
    What’s a hearing Voices Group?

    A Hearing Voices Group is not a clinic,
    not treatment,
    not a service,
    not a program,
    NOT an intervention.
    It is just people who get told their experiences are “not real”  Doin it for themselves… 
  • What you don’t need
    You don’t need a referral – because we don’t take them.

What do we mean by Hearing Voices?

Hearing voices as experience

“Voices” is sometimes literal – we hear voices you don’t- voices you might think are “not there” to be heard just because you don’t hear them does not make them “not there”, “not real”, it just means you don’t hear them.

Sometimes it’s metaphorical, or simply does not presuppose that voices must come from human bodies – the universe has many voices.

Hearing Voices as approach

Sometimes “hearing voices” is a broad term for an approach/ outlook/ worldview that can be used to embrace a whole bunch of experiences that have been made taboo and are often dismissed  as “not real” and/or “abnormal” but which are actually so common they are better / more usefully be classified as “pretty  bloody ordinary indeed”.

  • 75% Three-in-four humans will hear a voice no one else hears at least once – often around challenging life events, like loss of a loved one
  • 50% of people in long term marriage heard, saw, otherwise sensed the presence of their deceased spouse 
  • 22% of young people
  • About 10% of all people hear voices regularly
  • Two thirds of world leaders at the 1943 Quebec Conference did 
  • Even 38% of Doctors do it…

The majority of people who hear voices never need seek help: they find the experience valuable, useful, even enjoy it, and find it helps them in their life or work – eg many, many  writers do.

Culture shapes our experiences , research shows how people living on different continents experience voices differently.

In some cultures it is those who do not hear voices , and do not talk about it who are regarded as giving cause for concern.

In fact, if you don’t hear voices sometimes then maybe you’re missing out.

As for those who do struggle… it is often because they feel disempowered and disconnected from others , isolated. 

About 80% have experience adverse experiences like abuse, neglect, bullying in their youth.

A person given a diagnosis of “psychosis” is fifteen times more likely to have been abused as a child than a person with no psychiatric diagnosis.

sh!t is f#cked

The last two alone suggest how much this Sh!t is f#cked .

…and how much we need find our compassion.

Difficult-to-hear-voices always make sense in context of the whole-life of the person who hears them- so long as we make time and allow ourselves to really listen then we can understand.

Hearing Voices is not just about “voices”…

If you sometimes hear voices, hear other things, see things, smell things, feel things, think things that others don’t and when you try to talk top them about it they get their freak on, then give us a try because we do to.

We talk about “hearing voices” because it’s descriptive of the most common of the kind of experiences that get called names like “psychosis”. I hear voices [you don’t], its that simple.

It also tends to be the one that scares more people more shitless so they want to control and treat us like crap because they do.

Why do some people struggle? people who feel disempowered by their experience of voices are often disempowered in other aspects of their life. If we work on those, the voices can change. if we work with our voices, it can get easier to change things in our life we need and want to change.

Who can come?

if you hear voices...If you want to come, come.
If you’re only coming because someone else told you to come, then try asking them 

“have you realised how much you  sound like a ‘command hallucination’?

We are totally non-medical, non-diagnostic.

We’re a full charter hearing voices group.

The voices are real

The voices arereal
– as real as real can get.

We know that you don’t make ’em up and we know it can be a pain-in-the-ass –  almost as much of a pain-in-the-ass as pain-in-the-ass humans can be a pain-in-the-ass -or arse if you prefer.teh voices are real

We also know it can be valuable and funny and sad and insightful and scary and everything else that life can be.

If you’re struggling and want to try something new
we can share some stuff that you can try – some is really simple, some bloody hard, some might work for you, some might not. Nothing works if you don’t try it.

The only way to find out what works for you is if you try it .


Voices change

You can, if you want to, change how you experience whatever you experience, that includes voices. 

The Hardest Thing…

the hardest thing...

The hardest thing that people who hear voices have to deal with…

Our Hearing Voices group is one place you can find we try hard to not treat each other that way.

We choose not to …
-use diagnostic or medical language
-tell you what’s wrong with you, what to call yourself,  or who you are

We choose instead …
-to listen,
-to share what works for us, how we make sense of our own experience.

we envision a society that understands

We envision and enact a society that understands voice hearing, supports the needs of individuals who hear voices and views them as full citizens.
This type of society is not only possible it is already on its way.

We believe all  human experience is meaningful and understandable – if only we make time to listen, and to figure out what it means to us.

We believe the hearing voices approach is emancipatory…

Emancipatory for people who hear voices…

If I hear voices they are “my” voices: mine because it’s…

  • me who gets to hear them
  • me who gets to choose what they mean to me  
  • me who gets to choose what I do about what they say

Emancipatory for people who support loved ones who who hear voices and emancipatory for workers and for clinicians too…

seriously-folksFree yourself from the doctrinaire nonsense that says the people you care about hear voices because they haven’t taken enough tablets,  or had enough chemicals injected into their buttcheeks, that they can’t do anything for themselves, that they can’t learn and live a life worth living, and that that your role is confined to sneaking around their back and checking up on them to make sure they take their drugs.

“Hearing Voices” is not about “mental illness”

Hearing Voices is not about “mental illness” – whatever that is.
It’s not even really about illness.

It is a global emancipatory human rights movement, in 35 countries on all continents…
but mostly it’s about being human.

Heck, Canada even has a voice hearing former Prime Minister on its money…


Here’s our charter – what we’re about.

Print pdf: hvn-toronto-group-charter





Big Tom Hanks
Big Up and Big Thanks to Houselink Community Services for granting us use  of their spaces  for eight years!

please feel free to print share our poster .
Printer friendly version here: HV Group Toronto-Poster-FALL2018

Posted in Event, hearing voices, Ideas | Tagged ,

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. | Aretha Franklin

Posted in music | Tagged

Hearing Voices Cafe Toronto – Fall 2018

Hearing Voices Cafe, Toronto

Hearing Voices Cafe is open to all – we invite you to join us in a different kind of conversation about what it means to experience being human in this world.

Many human experiences like hearing voices have, in our culture, been mystified and made taboo and yet are remarkably common. Making experiences harder to talk about makes experiences harder to live with and harder to learn how we might live with them.

This leads to more of us struggling including individuals and families supporting their loved ones.

Hearing Voices Café is rooted in the simple belief that we can come together to talk about difficult human experiences in ordinary language and in ordinary places – so we do.

Join us for a different kind of conversation about what it means to be human in this world.


We meet monthly – [usually] first monday of the month, 6pm to 8pm.
Note we take a rest in Aug.

See the poster for forthcoming dates. We begin our fourth year in Sep 2018.

What is a Hearing Voices Cafe?

Hearing Voices Café Toronto-Pamphlet-Jan2016For more information see this pamphlet:
Hearing Voices Café Toronto-Pamphlet-Jan2016


Hearing Voices Cafe on the radio

“many social movements have their origins in cafes and coffee shops…”

Here’s a brief segment from CBC Radio’s Metro Morning with Matt Galloway  aired on Tue 3rd Nov 2015.
Reporter-Editor Mary Wiens spent time talking with folks at The Hearing Voices Cafe, Toronto. Many thanks to Mary, Matt, at Metro Morning and to Sue and David at Coffee and All that Jazz.

Hearing Voices Cafes in other cities

The first HV Cafe was in Hamburg. Toronto was the second – but the first to become a regular feature in the landscape.

There are now others :

Toronto | Valladolid | Paris | Madrid | London  |]
Calgary  | Oshawa

HV cafe

Artist Dora Garcia is the cosmos-rocking creative force behind bringing people together this way. For more information check out here…  HV Cafe and more links at the foot of this post.


Please support us: print and share our poster 
pdf: HV Cafe poster Fall 2018

Posted in Event, Ideas

“Consensus reality” is Major Major reality reality…

‘Experiences that fall outside of “consensus reality”…’

Tis an odd thing to say, eh?

There is no such thing as “consesus reality”.
For sure, when it comes to “mental health”
there is no consensus
Maybe that’s a good thing.

There is instead a great many
seeking to impose
their language,
their world view,
their ‘reality’
their will
…upon others.

Consensus does not mean:
“I think we can all agree [with me]”

Consensus requires that everyone give their consent
– that is what it means.

Consensus =    consent + consent + consent + consent + consent
…………….+ consent + consent + consent + consent + consent
…………… etc.

Consensus does not mean “majority”
-especially the kind of majority declared without an actual vote or count.

Consensus is many acts of giving consent
and consent is a conversation.

So for there to be anything like a  consensus reality
that mans about 7,500,000,000,000 people need to give you their consent
that your idea of reality is the one we’ll call “the consensus reality”.
How’s that working out for you?

When people use terms like  “consensus reality”
and especially terms like “outside consensus reality”
what they seek to do
is impose their idea or version of reality on the rest
– and especially upon those they deem “outside”
their reality.

Majority reality is, maybe more accurate term, as in:
“This is the reality I’m  in
and it’s the reality that the people I know are in
the reality people like me are in,
and so it must be  reality:
“The One Reality”
and you you should be in too.

It’s an exertion of power,
an act of dominance,
an act of violence.

It’s a bit dumb.

The majority, self appointed arbiters claim “mandate” to  then ignore and dehumanize the rest, declare them illegal, declare their reality not real.
-ain’t democracy grate?

Major Major reality
Major Major lived in his own reality too and sought,
using what very little power he had from his position and rank,
to impose his will on others.
Major major fuck up
-was his reality.

Your reality is yours,
unique to you

and as real as any other.
Go reality.

Shared reality
Now we’re talking, those parts of your own unique reality reality that are yours but that you also share with others and theirs.
Sharing is good,

Difference is good too.
The differences are not wrong
– they are where we learn from and with each other.

This clip is from the Movie Catch 22 adapted from the book Catch 22 and features Major Major midst his reality reality.


Humberto Maturana, biologist and Nobel Prize winning biologist puts it:

“When one person
tells another what is reality
what they are doing is

making a demand
for obedience.”

or, if you prefer, Homer Simpson:

“Kiss my flat, plastic butt reality!”

-The Dave

Posted in Emancipate yourself..., Ideas | Tagged , , ,

The conversational nature of reality – David Whyte

David Whyte on the conversational nature of reality at the frontier of that which we call “me” and that which we call  “not me”, where “self” and “the world” are entwined,  in constant enfoldment and emergence with each other…

David Whyte speaks at TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED


Posted in Ideas

Voices – Lauren Sanderson

We fight hate with hate
We fight love with fear
We fight dreams with doubts and we disappear



Lauren Sanderson


I think sometimes we see the right signs
Hate that they’re right
Claim we’re still blind
Ignore the day time

We fear the night time
Crave the right time
Fill the blanks with the empty words

Empty promises that won’t be fulfilled
Empty people we could never fill
We fight hate with hate
We fight love with fear
We fight dreams with doubts and we disappear

We fight logic over what our heart says
Demons who ain’t even there
I really sat there and replaced my goals
With a girl who showed me she didn’t care

I played myself
I blamed myself
I let ’em downplay just how I became myself

But just know that I made myself
All by myself
I faced myself
When they said I wouldn’t

No more time to backtrack
Sorry, thought I told you that
Warned you that

I gotta get back on the road
Cause you’re immune to me
And now this space here in my heart is opportunity
These spaces in my head

I hear voices in my head
They tell me you should go
Voices in my head

I hear voices in my head
They say leave you alone
Won’t you leave me alone?

(Gotta get back home)

I hear voices in my head
I hear voices in my head
All these voices in my head

Warned you that, warned you that
Voices in my

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What if we could learn to listen, really listen, to feel and to hold each other’s pain…?

Hearing voices is in our society typically regarded as unusual and only experienced when a person is said to have a “mental illness” when it is in fact very common human experience, and one that is both infinitely varied and deeply personal.

Three-in-four of us will have a period in our life when we hear a voice or voices that no one else hears, often around significant life events like loss of a loved one. Hearing voices regularly is about as common as left handedness. That’s about one in seven:  a billion or more people hearing voices that no one else hears, right now. We don’t hear about that because – well, you know why or you can figure it out.

It is worth noting, especially in a city like Toronto where half of people come from elsewhere, that in many other cultures around the world it is those who do not who hear voices – or “spirits” as they may be termed – who are the ones regarded with some measure of concern for their well-being.

Most people don’t struggle with voices they hear, or else most people find their experience somehow useful to them. Often the bigger part of any struggle is not being able to share talk about it because it is taboo. But it is true that some people do struggle, and some struggle a great deal and hold within themselves a great deal of pain.

People who do struggle with difficult-to-hear voices tend to feel powerless, to believe that the voices hear have power over them, and are rendered more powerless because they have to deal with it alone…

…because when we do choose to share our pain, those we choose to share with don’t understand, don’t want to understand or don’t know how to even begin to understand, or are too busy just hanging in there with their own struggle to spare us any of their energy.

So, collectively we tend to resort to simplistic explanations and easy, one-word stories, calling  names and dehumanizing us and demonizing those already in pain and struggling …

When that us
we find ourselves cut off from and set apart from other humans, disconnected from discarded by a society that almost daily becomes more fragmented, caught in a spiralling cycle of pain and violence.

Yet, any sense of powerlessness a person feels with difficult-to-hear voices tends to be reflective of a larger powerlessness that they experience in other aspects of their life.

Sometimes the connection between the two is startlingly obvious, more often it’s more complex, buried deep and trickier to figure out, sometimes individual parts of the picture are obvious bit no one has enough to make connections and make sense of what is happening. But, understanding how the way a person is experiencing pain and struggle in context of their whole life, making sense of that and working to bring about some change can transform an individual’s private personal experiences with voices and other painful and difficult experiences of the kind that get referred to as “psychosis”.

Incidentally, we can also choose to understand that those who shout and call names also do that out of their own sense of powerlessness, seeking to impose themselves, their will, and their beliefs as their own way a coping with their own sense of powerlessness too… And, I’d further suggest, those who do that might, at some time, usefully reflect personally upon how they sound just like the very kind of difficult-to-hear voices that can leave people feeling so powerless and fucked-over by life.

Research shows over and over that the overwhelming majority of people who are told they have any “serious mental illness”, and especially those told they have “psychosis” , have lived with much pain within themselves for many years, often since early childhood, and that they have often sought help over and over but found over and over that the ‘help’ they were offered didn’t help much.

Lately, we talk a lot of “trauma” – and “trauma informed care” and yet we also throw the word around without really understanding it’s meaning. Trauma is not what happened but the effect left within us from how we experience whatever happened. 

Many would have us believe we can’t possibly understand unless we have spent decades in college and have several degrees proudly displayed upon our office wall – but we can. 

Trauma is easy to understand in very simple terms.

Trauma means wound. 

Trauma is pain locked with in us, powerful energy that can leave us feeling trapped and trying to contain it, until we learn to harness it gently so we can heal.

Trauma is the pain we hold inside “in absence of empathetic witnesses”, in absence of supportive, nurturing, healing, connection with other humans.

If we learned to listen and to feel and hold each other’s pain then, perhaps, fewer of us would get to the point where we become convinced that acting in ways that cause yet more violence and pain is our best, or only option…

Posted in hearing voices, Ideas, violence | Tagged | 2 Comments

How some humans listen…

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