Hearing Voices – Religion or Madness?

Nice scene from BBC comedy Jam and Jerusalem with Dawn French.

Rosie likes to sit in the church because her voices are quieter there. Meanwhile the vicar comes to implore God to give him some kind of answer.

“You having trouble hearing his voice at the moment, Vicar?”

“when you do hear his voice, is it inside your head or through your ear holes?

…because that’s the questions they ask on the questionnaire up at the psychiatricals…”

“…because I gets em . I got Margaret, going on and on and on….

“…people thinks I’m mad – wonder if that’s what people think of you vicar?”

Who’s crazier? watch and decide for yourself….

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4 Responses to Hearing Voices – Religion or Madness?

  1. “he could just be busy… call back later…” hehehe…

    I have seriously wondered about this topic myself. Given that modern hospitals grew from nuneries and such, I wonder how much care givers experience tension in their own belief systems when they actively seek to hear “a voice”, yet diagnose/label people who hear “a voice” with schizophrenia…


    • Hh wednesdaywalker, welcome . many people do hear voices in many forms – 10 to 15% of us- so thats roughly about a billion people. about 2/3 have no problems with their voices or see it as a positive aspect of their lives. of those who do experience distress, when they’ve done the work to figure it out, 80% are able to connect their voices experience with early difficult life events/circumstances. people who experience distress from voices are likely to be dealing with having lived through experience that has left them traumatised. And each person interprets their own experience differently; sometimes it’s just a few times, often around a significant life event like the passing of a loved one. Some hear one voice others many. We all – least everyone I meet says they do – have some kind of internal dialogue going on. we do simple exercises with groups and workers that help them understand how that internal dialogue and voices can be understood as part of the same spectrum of human experiences – some richer than others. What I’ve observed, and I don’t have any “scientifically” assembled data just my own observations, is that we each interpret owr own experience according to our dominant frame of reference – eg people with religion in their life often interpret their voices as biblical figures: and who’s to say they are not? Many people experience voices as super critical , putting them down telling them they can’t do this, that…often reflecting, amplifying their own self doubt; others hear angry voices expressing emotions they feel they need to contain; some hear a voice saying the kind of things or using foul language they would never use themselves in polite company. oh and even though in N america people who hear voices are about seven times more likely to be labelled with a diagnosis of s… than in europe, hearing voices is not schizophrenia – even in DSM-IV there are many catgories of “disorder” that include hearing voices: from anxiety, depression, the bipolars, personality disorders, etc – human experience defies categorisation even in a book as big as DSM. just because someone hears voices it doesn’t necessarily mean they are ill – it just means they are human. if someone becomes isolated because they can’t talk about , explore, and make sense of their experience, learn how to live with it, then – and we know this well- that person is at risk of becomming very ill indeed . if they do, is that the voices that made them ill or our society’s inability to deal with them and support them?
      people, eh?


  2. Mark says:

    “Cant tell the difference btwn those who are mad and those on the hands free”

    great piece


  3. this is a fun piece on hearing voices and might make you think about things in a different way.
    Now let’s all be silent


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