In fact, hearing voices regularly is about as common as left handedness – and its not that long ago people who were left-handed were told they were evil, had hands strapped down, broken were hit in school and worse to “normalise” their deviance.
Perhaps one illustrative difference between left-handedness and hearing voices might be that that not many of us experience being left-handed for a period, whereas 75%, three-in-four, of us will experience an episode where we will hear a voice, or voices, that no one else does.
“Hearing voices” also refers to an approach – and a broad one- in which we accept hearing voices as part of human experience – one that might be difficult but that has some meaning, and might even offer us clues and insights to finding our way through life’s [even] larger difficulties.
No one but you can own your experience.
In a hearing voices approach it is a key value and a basic practice that we do not tell others what [we think] their voices are.
We might – perhaps inevitably will – have our own ideas and theories, explanations but we don’t seek to impose our own ideas or theories or explanations on you about what you experience.
Partly because we don’t know – because nobody does know or can know what another person is experiencing unless we ask – and listen really hard…
But mostly out of basic, simple respect.
Because we know first-hand and only too well what it’s like having so many voices telling us what to think and what to do and what to call ourselves and what words to use for all that.
Because we remember how much that just sucks.
Because there are already more than enough people using their power to define what we do and do not experience, to define us and to delineate and limit our lives for us.
Because doing that to each other really fucking sucks.
Because by choosing not to join the chorus of tellers and name-callers, we show our utmost respect for and belief in a person’s ability – as well as their basic human right – to decide for themselves what explanation best works for them.
Because this very same right we would claim for ourselves we also offer to each other.
Because hearing voices as an approach is not so much about hearing or about voices – it is about how we are with our selves, with our experiences and how we are with each other.
So, next time someone tells you
“your voices are…” or
“the voices are”
or such like –
and you want to have some fun, try telling them something like this,
“You know, when you say that, just like that, you sound just like ‘a voice‘.”
and watch the look on their face…
and you’ll see how much they really care about you
or care more about pretending they know what they cant possibly know.