A Practical Guide to Coping with Voices

Why we have written this guide

This guide has been written as an introduction to this different way of thinking about “hearing voices”. Hearing voices can be a very disturbing experience, both for the person who hears voices and family and friends. To date, very little has been written about this experience and its meaning, usually it is regarded as a symptom of a mental illness and is not talked about because it is a socially stigmatising experience.

In this guide we ask:

  • what is it like to hear voices?
  • why does it start?
  • and how can people cope better with this experience?

The information in this guide is based on research and practical work carried out in the Netherlands and the UK over the last seventeen years, which for the first time comes directly from the real experts, the voice hearers themselves.

  • Introduction: How work on the hearing voice experience has developed
  • What it is: What does it feel like to hear voices?
  • What the voices say: What do the voices tell you and what can they do?
  • How to zap voices: How do you zap a voice?
  • The movement: Professor Marius Romme gets a shock and founds a movement
  • What does the research mean for voice hearers?: The implications for psychiatric treatment and a hope of recovery?
  • Talk about it: A hearing voices checklist

Who is this guide for?

This guide is for voice hearers, family and friends, as well as being of interest to professionals working with voice hearers. We hope that when you read the guide you will be interested in finding out more. If you would like to, you can join INTERVOICE and keep in touch with developments as well as supporting our work.

1. Introduction

How work on the hearing voices experience has developed

How did it start?

The first UK Hearing Voices Group was formed in 1988. It began as a small planning group originating in Manchester, inspired by the pioneering work of Professor Marius Romme, a psychiatrist from Maastricht in the Netherlands, and the Dutch self help group Foundation Resonance which was established through this work. Members of the UK group have visited Maastricht many times and attended conferences organised by the Foundation and in return have hosted visits by the Dutch workers. In 1989 the Manchester group organised a speaking tour in the North of England for Marius Romme, Sandra Escher (science journalist) and Anse Streefland (a non-patient voice hearer and Chair of Resonance). The meetings were very well attended by voice hearers, their relatives, and interested professionals. This has become a regular annual visit.

Knowledge of the work has been spread by the publication of articles in specialist magazines and journals, local newspapers and the national media and is now the subject of the book Accepting voices published by Mind publications in 1993. This contact has continued to develop over the last nine years and in August 1995 the first international conference on the subject was held in the Netherlands.

What is the traditional belief about Hearing Voices?

Firstly, hearing voices has been regarded by clinical psychiatry as an auditory hallucination and as a symptom of conditions such as schizophrenic disorders, bipolar disorder (manic depression) and psychosis. The usual treatment – major tranquilliser – is administered in order to reduce the delusions and hallucinations. However, not everyone responds to this type of treatment.

Secondly, there are many people in the UK who hear voices, some of whom cope with their voices well without psychiatric intervention. This fact has been neglected. This guide asks if there is another way of thinking about voices?

Hearing Voices – A New Approach

Marius Romme (Professor of Social Psychiatry at the University of Limburg, Maastricht) in association with the UK Hearing Voices Network carried out research over nine years in the Netherlands and the UK and in his words:

“What this research shows is that we must accept that the voices exist. We must also accept that we cannot change the voices. They are not curable, just as you cannot cure left-handedness – human variations are not open to cure – only to coping. Therefore to assist people to cope we should not give them therapy that does not work. We should let people decide for themselves what helps or not. It takes time for people to accept that hearing voices is something that belongs to them.”

2. What it is?

What does it feel like to hear voices?

It’s hard to explain

It is difficult to explain what it is like to hear “voices”, particularly if you have never heard voices yourself. The word vocation, for instance means to “follow a calling”, in other words to hear a voice and act on it. This is not what most people mean when they say they have a vocation, but that is the root meaning of the word. Indeed, many historically important people claimed to have heard a voice that acted as their inspiration (see Some facts about voice hearing: 1).

For voice hearers, the voices might be present all day and have the effect of preventing them from doing things in their daily life. Voices might also punish the voice hearer if they do not do what the voice wants them to. Hearing voices is often regarded as dangerous because “voices” tell people to commit murders and to harm themselves, and there are sensational examples of this. It would seem that to hear voices makes you either a saint or a mad man – but is this always the case?

Some facts about voice hearing: 1

Some famous people who claimed they heard voices:

Socrates, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Avila, Swedenborg, Carl Jung, Anthony Hopkins, Zoe Wannamaker, and Ghandi.

In a nutshell

There are many prejudices and difficulties to overcome if one attempts to explain. However, the experience of hearing voices is not as alien an experience as it is generally thought to be. Firstly, it may be the same as hearing a voice in the normal way through your ears, the difference being that the “voice” has no physical cause. But like normal voices there is variety, and every experience has its differences. For example; leaving a party on their say so; not being able to talk about the voices; becoming silent, and as a result, isolated from other people. You may think you have never experienced this, but are you sure? (see Some facts about voice hearing: 2)

You may have had the experience of hearing someone call your name only to find that there is no one there. Indeed, research shows that, especially for people recently bereaved, it is not an uncommon experience to hear the voice of the recently deceased person. That is not the only explanation of what it is like. As well as hearing voices through the ears, people also hear voices as if they are thoughts entering the mind from somewhere outside themselves. This is not the same as a suddenly inspired idea, which people usually recognise as coming from themselves, rather the thoughts are not their own and would seem to come from outside their own consciousness, like telepathy.

A good example of this is the experience of recalling a rhyme or tune, which you find yourself repeating unconsciously under your breath and which keeps going through your head again and again. You can even find yourself humming it. You never took a decision to start thinking of it and it is difficult to stop thinking about it. The difference between the tune and “voice thought” which appears as words in your mind is that it may go on to speak coherently to you and even engage you in conversation. You, yourself are not responsible for it and you have no idea what this “voice” is going to say next.

Thoughts without words. Visions, smells, tastes and dreams…

There are many different ways to hear voices. Voices can be experienced inside the head, from outside the head, or even in the body. It may be one voice or many voices. The voice may talk to you or about you. There are other ways to hear voices, some of them make the phrase “hearing voices” a poor description and perhaps one day we will have to come up with a better one – because it is never the same for everyone. Some people, for instance, experience non-verbal thoughts, images and visions, tastes, smells and touch. All with no physical cause and all sensations they did not call into being themselves.

Voices can be like dreams. We all dream and experience words, images, and even sensations. When we are bored we can drift off and have a short dream. When we dream all sorts of strange things can happen to us, but we still believe they’re really happening to us. Hearing voices can be like that – a waking dream – but something that is experienced as real.

Some facts about voice hearing: 2

Voice hearing is not an uncommon experience.

Many people hear voices and have never been a psychiatric patient, this is already a well known but neglected fact.

It has been known for some time that a high percentage of the general population experience brief and occasional voices, particularly at times of bereavement, divorce and separation. It is also the case for people in extreme circumstances, for instance, 80 per cent of those who have endured torture have hallucinated during their ordeal (Amnesty International) and the phenomenon is also seen amongst long-distance yachtsmen (Bennett, 1972). In cases like these, there is no evidence of the presence of mental illness – indeed, often quite the contrary.

More recent epidemiological research in Baltimore, in a population of 15,000 people, found that 10 – 15 per cent of those interviewed reported that they had heard voices over a long period of time, only a third of those interviewed reported experiencing negative effects (Y. Tien).

Further research in 1991 revealed that many cases of hearing voices did not meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis (Eaton). Significantly, Romme’s latest research of both non-patient and patient voice hearers showed that both groups hear negative and positive voices at about the same level. The difference is mainly in how the two groups react to the voices, with the non-patients not experiencing fear of the voices and experiencing far less upset from them than the patients.

3. What the voices say

What do the voices tell you and what can they do?

Lots of different voices

What do voices say? What messages do they bring? Usually there is not just one “voice” that says the same sort of things all the time. There can be a number of voices that may be different from each other. One could say pleasant things and be on your side while another might not. Sometimes a voice can have a complete personality and be instantly recognised by the person hearing the voice as some particular person, dead or alive, or some known spirit or being such as God or the Devil. Other voices may not have much of a personality and the person hearing what is said may not put it down to some particular person or being. Hearing the “voice” is like hearing random snatches of conversation.

The worst news

Some “voices” are more pleasant then others. The less pleasant ones may abuse the person hearing them, saying that this person is no good, of no account, evil, stupid, worthless. They may say this sort of thing monotonously and continually. The voices may also give people orders that they felt they have to obey because the voices control the person’s body. For example, the voices might also cause them to have a fit, or experience pain.

Still not good

Alternatively, the voices could simply be constantly or occasionally interrupting with meaningless and valueless comments, such as “that’s not a good idea”, “that’s not going to work”, “he’s one of them” and so on. The voices may also discuss something with apparent omniscience and wisdom – apparently they know everything – but the voice hearer can find that the information is false. For example, the voices tell you that if you send someone a letter asking for something, that person will do what you want. When it does not happen it can be very disillusioning.

The good news

There can be a pleasant side to hearing voices. Sometimes the apparent wisdom is real and the voices, or some of them, can seem intelligent. Voice hearers report that they have been told things they did not know or could not work out for themselves and the voices have been of real assistance. For some people this experience is considered a gift, something that is like a valuable insight or even extra sensory perception (ESP), and the voices can be trusted.

Voices can be intelligent, witty, funny and incisive. They can in themselves be a coping mechanism. What the voices say corresponds with the effect that the social and emotional world is having on the voice hearer. The voices will often comment on how the voice hearer is experiencing the world and in this way the voices can be a defence mechanism against overwhelming or forbidden feelings. Voices are often related to life history, such as recent or childhood trauma and the voices speak of powerlessness and injustice.

Some facts about voice hearing: 3

Three phases found among people who hear voices

The startling phase

Most voice hearers describe the onset of the experience as being quite sudden, startling and anxiety provoking, and can vividly remember the precise moment they first heard a voice.

The age of the onset of the initial experience of voices varies widely, as does the intensity of the startling phase, which appears to be most severe when it occurs during adolescence. The confusion seems to be less when voices are heard from an early age, or did not make an appearance until later in adulthood (In a survey 6 per cent heard voices before the age of 6; 10 per cent between 10 and 20; 74 per cent after 20).

Voices are often triggered by traumatic or emotional events such as accidents, divorce or bereavement, illnesses, psychotherapy sessions.

The impact of the voices fall into two types:

Some people perceive the voices as helpful and they evoke a feeling of recognition. These people feel the purpose of the voices is strengthening them and raising their self-esteem. The voices are experienced as positive and as an understandable aspect of their internal selves.

Others experience the voices as aggressive and negative from the very beginning. For these people the voices are hostile and are not accepted as part of themselves. They suffer from negative voices that can cause chaos in their minds, demanding so much attention that communication with the outside world is extremely difficult.

The phase of organisation: coping with the voices

Voice hearers often become confused by their voices and want to escape from them. For some, this urge lasts only a short time (weeks or months), for others, it can be many years. However, to come to terms with the voices on any level or to organise them successfully, requires some form of acceptance to take place. Denying the voices does not work. During this phase, voice hearers understandably seek ways of controlling or coping with the voices, strategies include:-

  • ignoring the voices (distraction)
  • listening to them selectively
  • entering into willing dialogue with them
  • making specific appointments with them

Attempts at distraction and ignoring rarely work, although this is a strategy many voice hearers attempt, it seems the effort involved often leads to a severe restriction of life style. Unsurprisingly, initial feelings of panic and powerlessness are replaced with a period of anger at the voices, this anger does not appear to be part of a useful coping strategy. The most useful strategy described by voice hearers is to select the positive voices and listen and talk only to them, and to try to understand them.

An important element in coping successfully with voices is to accept them. This appears to be related to a process of growth towards taking responsibility for one’s own decisions. You have to learn to think in a positive way about yourself, your voices, and your own problems.

Another strategy is to set limits and structure the contact with the voices, sometimes accompanied by rituals or repeated actions.

The phase of stabilisation

People can and do learn to cope with their voices and find a kind of equilibrium. In this state of balance, people consider the voices as part of themselves and their lives, and capable of a positive influence. During this phase, the individual is able to choose between following the advice of the voices or their own ideas, and can say “I hear voices and I’m happy about it”.

NB: The information in this section is taken from the results of questionnaires sent to voice hearers and from subsequent interviews carried out over ten years (see Accepting voices).

What voices do

Voices can vary from the very pathological and undesirable to being considered a faculty or gift. Many people, even those troubled by their voices would not like to stop hearing voices – voices may be pathological for some people but they may also fill a useful psychological function.

37 responses to “A Practical Guide to Coping with Voices”

  1. Natalie Green

    For many years from 2004/2005, I have always suffered with the problem of Hearing Voices, I have complex mental health problems anyway, and it’s true to the extent, I have often in my past, felt, had I heard, something, or hearing my name called, when in fact there is no one there literally. Though whilst very ill in hospital, I was literally talking out loud (though I didn’t know it, I was completely out of it) imagining that something was going on about me, being planned in review mode, and in actual fact it had been triggered off from 2001, and 2003, when I had specific problems mounting up, and hearing voices is one part.

    Today, whilst still on the same medication, after 4 years of it, I am still experiencing when reasonably mental health well, hearing voices, now, I wouldn’t call it a “gift” because it isn’t and I do find them rather disturbing and the article is right to say, that it’s like; a conversation on a bus, or people calling someone on their mobiles (which I find annoying by the way). Now how do I zap out of the mode, and I have bi-polar problems wihtin, this is something else, I also have a loss of knack of concentration at times; I work out 2 or 3 times a week, and I do volunteering tasks, in open plan officy enviroments, combined with my walkman on, and based at home, I’ll go out on shopping errands, to help me get fresh air, and not feel irritable, and do my knitting or cross stitching depending the mode I’m in, and listening to carefully selected music.

    The other thing is which a lot of people might have trouble with via Hearing Voicies, I try to remain positive at all times.

  2. Dr. Yeshwant P Muley

    lack of sensory input, hypnpcompic and hypnogyric can also lead to the voice hearing.

  3. Judy

    I am a Skills Instructor at a Sheltered Workshop. I do classes with our clients to get them ready to go out in the community. I have recently started working with a number of clients who hear voices. I am trying to find as much information as I can about voices and how to help my clients cope with them. Thank you for this article and if you know of any other web sites I could find information on and let me know I would greatly appreciate it. Thank You
    Judy

  4. Esther

    I went through a period of about a year where I wasn’t exactly hearing distinct voices but was feeling influenced – thoughts that didn’t belong to me. Constantly reminding me I was unworthy, disgusting, stupid and deserved to be humiliated or to be dead.

    I feel like my real-life experiences of violence and abuse became ‘personified’ in my thoughts. I think this is called hypervigilance – when you start seeing and hearing abuse all around you.

    What worked for me:
    I was scared to sleep, scared to die in my sleep, scared of nightmares. The lack of sleep got so extreme that I hadn’t slept in a month. The voices got so violent – telling me to kill myself. I did a onetime single dose of sleeping medication and that got my sleep cycle back on track.

    I stopped taking caffeine.

    I developed healthy rituals and was committed to them: eating healthy food at regular intervals thoughout the day, in a proper balance with lots of raw fruit/veg and mostly vegetarian proteins. Lots of healthy fats/oils.

    I took a multivitamin.

    I went for a walk in fresh air everyday.

    I did yoga and meditation. Yoga/meditation is supposed to re-balance any imbalances (hormonal, emotional etc). It really worked for me. Many real yoga studios will give you reduced rates according to income, or let you work in exchange for yoga classes. You just have to ask!

    Antianxiety medications prescribed by a doctor

    Stop using recreational drugs (for me it was weed – I had to quit because it was toxic for me)

    Forcing myself to socialize every few days instead of secluding myself.

    A ‘spa’ every night before bed. This was just a simple long shower with candles in the bathroom to make it feel special.

    I had to ignore those voices telling me I didn’t deserve to feel loved or happy. I used positive reinforcements – sometimes even shouting them in my mind – I DO Deserve to feel loved by the universe. Meditation really really helped with this. Every time I looked in the mirror, I told myself that I am a good person inside. I am worthy of happiness. God or the creator or the universe or whoever Loves me TOO.

    It took about six months for the thoughts to stop. It took another 6 months for me to start believing some of the good stuff. I still work at it. If I miss too much sleep, my anxiety comes back. I really have to stick with my yoga, healthy food and regular sleep.

    Hope this helps somebody. You are Loved.

    1. chad mac neil

      Hi,how are you?I have been trying to open my mind to these new things!lol strange to have been born without being able to hear like the rest off the population!! Do you know whwt I meen. I believe all others can hear our thoughts?? Wierd A?

    2. Tracey

      Dear Esther, your experience brought a tear to my eye. The school called in a psych evaluation for my 12yrold daughter. She had told her teacher she couldn’t sleep because of voices. That she felt stupid, unworthy. And that she could see people’s aura of colors. She is a Tom Boy, doesn’t fit in with the kids in her class and is ostracized. Where do you start as a parent? They want her to see a psychiatrist. I am terrified they will want to drug her. My mother was a manic depressive and I saw her life torn apart by lithium, mood stabilizers, which never helped. My gut tells me my daughter is fine. I am going to jump thru school boards hoops, up to a point. But I’m also going to see if I can interest her in meditation and yoga. I want to give her the tools to cope. I felt very alone. I’m so grateful to find you all.

    3. Cynthia

      Esther,
      You give me hope and remind me of the things I can do to help myself. I found that going to psychotherapy was just making me worse, making me believe I was sick and needed to be taken care of and there’s no way around it. If I follow the things you listed I can get better. I know this because I’ve done it years ago but somehow forgot along the way and stopped doing positive things for myself.
      For anyone reading this, listen to what Esther says. She is right on the mark for what we have to do to make things better for ourselves.
      Thank you for sharing your help with us Esther. It seems so simple, and it is, but when we’re in the midst of attack by voices, all our common sense goes right out the window and we forget these tools for taking care of ourselves the way we ought to.
      We have the power to take control of our lives. Esther’s list is a way to take back your life and cope with the voices. Don’t let the voices get the upperhand. Take care and God bless.

    4. katie

      Esther, your story made me cry with happiness, thank you so incredibly much. It is such a good feeling to know I am not alone and I absoluelty can grasp this. Everyones life path is different, and there is beauty in embracing your own path. I have recently started meditating and doing yoga, I reccomend Kundalini yoga, its very therapeutic and makes you feel in control and loving yourself. Do not listen to the negative voices! Selectivley listen to the positive ones, for they are here to support you in life. This might sound odd, but give yourself a hug every morning, and tell yourself how beautiful you are and that you are a good person. I love giving myself love. 🙂 Just know you are not alone. LOVE YOURSELF and believe in the goodness of your heart!

    5. Rich

      I’ve had the exact same experience following a terrible work experience where my life was threatened.

      It has been over two years and I still hear one voice that suggests things I don’t want and even threatens me through gas-lighting.

      I have learned to cope with it by using medical marijuana and just staying in good contact with the people I care about. Also, staying healthy helps a lot too.

      Thanks for sharing, hope this helps someone.
      Rich

  5. Nahum

    I suffered heavily from the ungodlly&intimidating voices for a ten years, Now i look back as im writing this comment, i think this voice had a specific agenda to do my head liturally with instant immoral feelings, thoughts&images that would unintentionally generate in my head where thoughts give me choices to act&to do but conflict with what is wrong, evil, not beneficial for me&others associated with a circumstantial thought/feeling. Co-inciding with this was what sounded like an invisible person trying to scare me like a bully would intimidate someone to gain power over them in one area or another. I initially coped with it through alcohol but the following dat it got 3xworse even though i felt free when drunk/drinking, the voice came randomly in addition to hearing it it would crush me me with fear, uneasyness, horrifying images if i tried to sleep. I didnt admitt myself into Psychiatric facilities, there was to much pride in me or thoughts of the humilliating feeling id experience if i confessed of hearing and expericing bad/evil stuff in me mind&body, inspite of managing it myself it was to hard for to live in society that id grown up in with a sound mind& always wounded what brought this on, realising now it initially happend during times of smoking marijuana which i stopped when the voice made itself known to me, but the voice continued years after i gave up smoking marijuana. The GOODnews came with a person on t.v said the name “”JESUS”” an overwhelming presents of a power somehow connected to when a man said the name “”JESUS”” came into me which expelled all negative entities, feelings, thoughts&any other bad buzz iwas going through, it felt as though i was free&at ease!!!, instantly after that i fell asleep&had the best nights sleep for years!. I woke up thinking im back to the way i was before the voice came into my life&tried destroying my soul?, mind what ever the agenda. The voice came back after a little while and stayed for years after that until the person with the name id experienced freedom from the voice that had oppressed me all that time to a degree where i thought i gota get out of this body to get away from the crushing power of the voice, thankfully i couldnt bear the thought of feeling physical pain before exiting this disease ridden body. I can testify to all the disappointed people on medication, excercise only that, that name has power greater than the voice&iv recently realised that that name is a living person who is how id like to say is my ‘meds’&some:_).
    And wants to be for anynoe who will call on his name.

  6. Kelly

    i have an almost 16 yr old daughter who hears voices. she used to talk back with them out loud and we had to ask her who she was talking to. its been going on for about 2 years or so and it finally got to the point that we had to take her to the E.R. because the voices told her to cut herself. The only way we could get into a psychatrist office in our area. She is a special needs kid. Mild retardation. almost 16 year old body with a younger mind. Overweight. Doesnt have the ability to put her feelings and emotions into words and if we try and help her understand the voices she just says i dont know. Its to the point that people shy away because she is so open about hearing voices and what they say. they arent nice voices you see. They want her to kill people and kill herself or wants her to cut herself. she doesnt hurt people and we have taken away razors and scissors and sharp objects so she doesnt hurt herself. She cant be left by herself for any amount of time because the voices bother her. We are at wits end and we dont know what to do. Her pycharitrist has her on meds and they did bloodwork when she first started going there and he said she was anemic and that might be the cause to the voices. but she still hearts them. she went to camp this week and she told couple of counselors and shes being sent home a day early. any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Chthonic

      The voices your daughter is hearing are definitely BAD voices. I recommend you ask God’s Holy Warriors to assist you in ‘removing’ them: God’s Special Agents are literally everywhere. You could ask your daughter to say this and ask for a Holy War for the ‘removal’ of the ‘bad’ voices. Thank them and ask that they check on her again from time to time.

  7. Esther B

    I read the story and feel strange about having the same name and even stranger can identify with some of the voices as I had not a very good childhood due to my mother bronchitis and maybe she had her own problems I wasn’t aware of at the time.
    Anyway, I have thought my problems were related to OCD thoughts and read Clair Weekes book in which she mentions about having the “right voice” in her helping people overcome their nervousness in different situations.
    I didn’t know until recently that my problems were hearing voices.
    When my step-brother was alive before 1985. He was a schizophrenic and he’d been in mental hospitals and sometimes discharged himself. He only visited my mum and me on his good days and it . a shame he died from pneumonia and at 39yrs old

  8. chad mac neil

    i would love to speek to someone who hears voices.. its been 2 and a half years for me and I dont know how to open my mind to these new things.i have had one very clear experience and it like a new set of ears…lol i know that sounds funny but i know our thoughts are shared with one another.it first sounds like static in your head and then all of a sudden it comes in clear.Haha sounds crazy but i know everyone is born with this abiliaty,everyone but me of course,but it is a fact.Do you know what i meen? Can you help me??????????????? leave me a comment if we can some how comunicate. thank you,Chad

  9. patrick

    I was wondering if it is a friend sending you telepathic messages is it a good idea to meet with them and tell them to stop. Can the person understand what you are talking about and will they stop. If the person is real then there is a way to stop them.
    Thanks for your comments.
    PS

  10. Raylene

    My mom started hearing voices a year ago, she beleives it is the lady next door, she tells me that she is a witch and she is evil, and that they are abusing her.and saying nasty things to her. the other night she woke me up saying that the woman next door is running around our house with a gun.I really don’t know what to do or say anymore, how do I make her relize that this is not really happening and the voices are only in her head? when I do try and tell her this, she tells me no its not in my head, and that I will see the truth will come out and that I am blind I am not seeing what is going on. Can anyone please help and advise me what I can do, she gets herself in such a state when she is hearing these voices. I have taken her to the doctor and she was also admitted into a Psychiatric hospital. and that didnt help. She is on medication but it doesnt seem to be helping. I just don’t know what to do anymore, I am at a stage where if she cant help herself then I dont know how I can help her.

    Any advise how I can cope and how I can help her cope and make her relize its not really happening.

    1. katie

      Hello Raylene

      I am not an expert of hearing voices, but I myself have been hearing voices for a year now. I used want to slam my head in a wall because the voices were so destructive, so I have an idea of what your mom is going through. My genuine advice is to encourage your mom to excerise, doing yoga is a great option. Or even taking her out of the house everyday for a long walk to get fresh air. Tell your mom she is safe and loved. Also, eating healthy really does help, organic foods i.e veggies, fruits, etc. Eating unhealthy can be toxic to our mind. As far is medicine is concerned I reccomend going to your local organic store and buying natural supplements. Ask an employee to help pick out the best option for mental clarity as far as vitamens and supplements are concerned. While the voices may not leave entirely she can help minimize the voices. Hope this helps Raylene. Things will get better darling!

  11. Dave

    My voices started about seven ears ago, at first I was too afraid to seek help, and afraid of a diagnosis, I tried everything I could to get myself better, including exercise, a healthy diet, meditation and even cognitive behavioral therapy, but nothing worked at all. Now I have been with a psychiatrist for a year and I am trying my second course of medication to try and stop the voices, visions and sensations which I find so hard to accept. My doctor says that the causes are unknown as I have attempted the CBT exercises around anxiety exhaustively and to the maximum limit that I know how, and honestly the only anxiety I now experience is when the voices come. Nothing is working!! Thing s only seem to continue as bad as ever and I don’t know what to do. I want a job again and to feel more economically productive but I am not really well enough to do a very demanding or particularly satisfying job.
    Any suggestions please?

  12. Rocktopus

    Well well, what a refreshing site.

    Having begun hearing my voices after an intensely negative psychedelic experience, and while studying psychology as a minor at university, I’ve been trying to make sense of their chatter for years. It’s obvious that they’re mostly echoes from the past bubbling up from the stewing subconscious, but they seem to have a very interesting extra sensory dimension which, while sometimes a bit scary to investigate, has proven to me quite a few times in the past that they’re trying to help. After all, if those voices are our subconscious or id babbling away at us like a vocal child in need of attention, then we should maybe soothe the aches and needs of that childlike part of ourselves. It’s trying to get our attention for a reason.

    I think maybe the negative side of the experience of some voices is due to the fact that deep down inside, they know something is wrong, or right, and that the only way for them to get you to pay attention to whatever that is is to whack you over the ears with a big loud stick of rudeness. The fact that the individual subconscious is linked to the mind ocean of the collective subconscious is perhaps where this ESP dimension comes in. But it’ll only work if one learns not to take the voices literally, but as metaphors or suggestions expressed in sometimes diametrically opposed terms, and leading you along a path to mutual fulfillment. Concentrate not on what the voices are saying literally, they’re just your id trying to communicate with you in the only way it knows, but rather pay attention to what lies behind the jibber-jabber. It’s trying to lead you somewhere, to do something important.

    Hearing voices is a bit like doing a cryptic crossword: you have to think about the experience in an abstract and lateral manner that’s probably quite good for your brain 🙂

  13. Cynthia

    This is probably the most accurate information on hearing voices that I’ve come across so far. The fact that mental health professionals “aren’t helping” is very true. When I sought mental health treatment almost twenty years ago when my voices started, I didn’t get better, only worse. I got stuck in an “I’m sick” mode of thinking which stressed me out and made voices worse. I’ve been taking psychotropic medications all this time and guess what? I still hear the distressing voices.. and I have permanent adverse side effects from all those medications including embarrassing twitches and ticks. My brain doesn’t think correctly anymore so those meds could have caused brain damage too. Who really knows. The way the mental health professionals treat voice hearers is absolutely wrong, I even had a psychiatrist laugh at what I said the voices were telling me! It was a matter of life or death in my mind and here, the person I was trusting with my life was laughing in my face. I never went back to him after that and have been floundering on my own for years.
    Thank you for the articles. It’s about time I found the truth and how to get better. I don’t know if I’ll ever be what I once could have been, but at least I know I can get better and be relatively happy.

    I wish it were easier to find helpful sites like this one on voices. So many people are missing out on the truth. Thank you for making me feel OK about voices, they don’t seem so scary now and I do have that hope of a better life ahead.

  14. Privacy

    I’ve talked to myself ever since I was a little boy. I’ve had varying levels of “hearing” voices throughout the years… most moments, I simply have an internal dialogue going, as though I’m explaining what I’m doing to “someone else”. Sometimes that “someone else” asks questions, or interjects with comments… always positive (many times with silly comments, that make “us all” laugh :-P).

    I’ve done lots of meditation, trance, and self-hypnosis, and have experienced all sorts of interesting things while in altered states of consciousness. Sometimes the voices I hear (while trancing) are as real as any other voice. Sometimes I can “tune into” a certain voice, and hear only them. I’ve also had a *lot* of out-of-body experiences (usually at least once every two months, but as frequent as every other night, during some stretches). I’ve experienced voices while out-of-body; I’ve also experienced grabbing of limbs (arms, legs).

    It was refreshing to see some honest and open discussion about “hearing voices” on this website. I’ve never had hostility in my voices… and I’ve always treated them with respect, and with appropriate boundaries. Sometimes I will tell the other voices to be quiet, and give one voice “the stage” to speak “its” opinion on a subject. Then let the other voices (and myself) discuss the ideas presented.

    Some voices have told me they had psychic knowledge of things… and for a time, I did believe them. Only after careful testing did I confront them with their failures. I’ve told them I am open to hear what they have to say — but that they have no right to claim special knowledge. They need to “play fair” with the other voices.

    Overall, I really feel that the voices are an important part of my internal thinking process, and I would argue that they’ve helped me quite a bit. I never understood why there was such a social stigma associated with it… To me, it’s normal.

    Thank you for maintaining this organization — I hope those that feel their voices are negatively impacting their lives and learn to work with them.

  15. Shauna Comire

    I have been hearing voices since I was about 12. Even though I have been experiencing them for about 10 years, I still have issues with socializing and communicating with others when I am hearing voices. I want to enroll in college, but the voices keep me from participating in classes and I have run into issues where I have to do oral presentations and I am hearing voices at the same time… I really don’t know what to do in a situation where it is necessary to interact with people while the voices are present. Has any one else had problems with this? What should I do?

  16. Gabby

    I don’t hear voices frequently, and usually it’s just one voice telling me something. Sometimes I interpret it as spiritual or psychical awareness of things I need to do, or know. Dreams are the gateway to the collective unconscious. Dreams are full of archetypes from human DNA and map the keys to understanding how we work and co-exist with the universe and its properties. Often attempts meet adversary such as interpreting Zener Cards, in my experience you have to look for the unseen or focus on the negated image instead of what you want to appear. Sometimes it seems earth itself is a sort of evolutionary game by design. Voice hearing can illuminate ideas that otherwise you wouldn’t think of, and also it can be distracting or ominous seeming. Sometimes accepting and embracing the unknown can be the step toward fulfillment and this is through integration of seemingly ambivalent forces. I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age sixteen, since then I’ve proven to be symptom free for seven years straight. This is all due to the nature of willpower.

  17. Ray

    Before listening to this and then coming to this site and reading what hearing voices is like I didn’t realize that was my problem also for like the last 24 years atleast.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/eleanor_longden_the_voices_in_my_head.html?source=email#.UgaLPMr1A7k.email

    I had just started college and my dad died and I started getting really angry at myself and raging at myself for nothing all day long and calling myself all kinds of bad things. It seemed like my thoughts but was so hostile I couldn’t believe it was me and hated it and fought them like 24/7/365 and ended up getting super depressed and dropping out of college. I tried to supress them with computer games last 20 years and got totally lost 🙁

    The last few months I’ve been getting out of it and pretty doing exactly what Esther mentions.

    – If they really bad I suggest listening to Eckhart Tolle on youtube and doing what he suggests to connect with the moment the Now and realize you are not your mind. You are the awareness of the present moment.

    I went into nature here, a park, and sat there for hours and hours just being still and trying to stay present in the moment and just looking at life and everytime my mind started to think thoughts again bring your attention to the life around you without labeling everything just let life be as it is without the judgements on it all.

    I did this 3 or 4 times a week and exercised daily and starting eating better.

    I also found a book called “Why is this happening to me again”. Here’s a link to the tool he uses to clean up the ‘realities’ in your mind that are not aligned with your true nature of love. He also does a radio/blog show every day at 1 p.m. eastern time where he talks and helps people become familiar with the tool. It’s been a major help sorting out my mind and letting go of abusive realities (memories) inside me that I never wanted to face.

    I agree with Eleanor that the voices are actually here to help you and learn to love them and accept them. There are hidden meanings behind what they are actually saying which you will discover once you accept the voice and look beyond the fear / hostility based messages to what’s actually at the root of the voice.

    I love this quote from Dr Tim who does a support group using the tools I mentioned in the link above. His blog on the tool is below.

    We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false.

    http://www.ch4cs.com/blog/

    Hope this helps..

    Ray

    1. Ray

      oops forgot to post the link to the tool I mentioned.

      http://www.whyagain.org/index.php/en/worksheets

  18. Navjeet Bhullar

    I would like to make a comment on hearing voices. Sometimes we hear voices and we categorize it as being part of either Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and little do people know sometimes it could be the affects of something called dark magic. There are people who mess with dark magic and will send spirits after a person to spy on them and torture them, it’s pretty common in India that this stuff happens. I can’t say much about other countries but I am sure everyone is aware of dark magic or atleast have heard of it. I think it’s highly important to be taught about magic in general and there should be a course in school and ways a person could protect themselves from different types of attacks caused by dark magic. And, I believe we should definetely encourage to have a meditation session before beginning classes to pray in school and have religion take part in our lives just as much as we talk about staying drug free, sex education, and domestic violence. This is one of the problems that many people go through or it may have been done on someone else and it had the affects on someone else by accident. It could be possible.

    1. Lora Jane

      I am really interested in your post Navjeet Bhullar, I have been hearing voices for a year and a half now and know for certain that it is not in my head but intact someone torturing me. I was diagnosed almost immediately when I first went to the doctor and put on medication. Even though I know it’s real people torturing me I decided to at least try it, firstly to shut everyone else up and secondly to rule out the possibility that it may work. I’ve had to give up work and I wasn’t communicating with anyone only the voices for along time. They are only negative and abusive however they have become more narrative lately. They insist that there is no point in going on about the fact that they are real people because I will never be able to prove it. I was convinced when I had a recent visit to hospital that they had inserted a device if some sort into my body but your theory may explain my plight!! I know that alot of people who hear voices say they sound so real but these are real people speaking to me and they say they will not give up until I end my life. They have succeeded in making me look like I have an illness, I know someone knows who is doing this and can only hope that one day they speak out!!!

  19. Sierra

    I would like to comment on my experience of hearing voices. They are trying to get me to quit smoking and exercise every day.

  20. Chthonic

    As long as we are talking about voices and telepathy, I’d just like to say that there’s an entire world out there, with regards to the nature of voices and the kinds of experiences we may manifest with them… There are voices that can help you ‘tune in’ to the right vibrational level of voices and their interactions. The range of your telepathy will vary with your connection; in this case, the Interweb or Internet (Web of Life). This is a collection of operators, agents, and moderators. You can ask for an operator to speak with someone. Some people don’t hear: they have their own reality filters, others have them imposed on them. If you can learn to ‘see’ as well, as Adam McCloud does (book: his name is Adam, dream healer), then you can ‘see’ yourself just to do a self check.
    Peace and God’s infinite Love and Forgiveness be with you.

  21. Natalia

    I’ve been exploring spirituality or self awareness for about 30 years, after I experienced on and off throughout child and teenage hood mystical experiences. Eventually I started keeping a journal of phenomena spanning 30 years. This eventually led me to practising being a Medium, which I stopped about 5 years ago for various reasons. Hearing voices, dreams and seeing spirit I accept as normal, I am in control of it. These days I’m more focused on spiritual growth.

    However when my eldest son 19 yrs old at the time in 2012, was uplifted under the Mental Health Act and placed in lockdown, diagnosed psychotic, his life, our family life changed dramatically. It was heartbreaking to watch a perfectly happy 19 year old who’d just left school the previous year suddenly thrown into chaos. I stopped work to be by his side and walk his journey with him, and he got lots of loving support from family.

    Having clinicians suddenly become involved with his and our life was extremely challenging, doctors and western medicine to treat a set of symptoms really unearthed and personally threw me into turmoil, (as well as my son), as I tried to understand symptoms of mental illness and gentle spirituality I was accustomed to. Nothing made sense. After being medicated for over a year now, he has recovered to the point he can engage in conversation, feels emotion and expresses love, and … still hears voices.

    When asked about the voices just recently, he tends to withdraw and is petrified of being locked up again, so tends to be on the silent side, I believe the first experience traumatised him. I hope in time, he’ll be able to share more. The little he told me is that he believes there’s a war going on between dark and light and that ghosts are asking him to help them. He’s never had an interest in spirituality I’d like to add.

    With what I’ve learned personally, my challenge is, where is the line drawn between being clairvoyant, clairaudient, clairsentient and symptoms of mental illness. Is there one? Is there a link? Spiritual emergence is the comfortable journey towards self realization, while Spiritual emergency is like the gentle emergence gone wrong, like a circuit overloading. I don’t know if there’s a connection, but to me feels like there’s a piece of a puzzle missing I can’t put my finger on.

    It seems to have been the continual use of medication that allows him functionality, and gotten him thus far, as well as lots of love and support, but I wonder what is at the roots?

    His journey recently inspired me to work in mental health, to try and understand how the system works, and personally explore (in my own world), if there is a link between symptoms of mental health and spirituality. But there’s no pages in a Doctor’s index that explain aura’s, subtle energies, pre-cognitive dreams and visions, and universal consciousness, rather a diagnosis and a programme to recovery, of which I will respect.

    Nevertheless it puts me into an unusual position, feeling there’s a missing link, … I’ve enjoyed reading this website, and I truly thank all the contributors that have posted for your sharing with honesty, I’ve found your posts very very helpful, as it’s helped me understand a little more about what my son has been going through, through your eyes and ears, when he will mostly say very little.

  22. Paul

    My 16yo daughter has been struggling for over a year, psychologists, psych, private clinics. The doctors say that with the medication she is taking she should no longer be hearing voices, and that this may be a pseudo psychosis. Today she was admitted to hospital to stitch up her forehead because the voices told her to hurt herself. What does one do?

  23. sunny

    My mother heard voices as a teenager and was drugged and locked up for most of my life – except the first 10 years of my life. During those years my mother taught me how to love unconditionally, be self-sufficient, and showed me the spirituality that is found everywhere and everyday in nature. It was only a year or two after I was ripped from her loving arms – and put into a dysfunctional family situation (2000 miles away)- that I had my first near death experience (age 12). Her “voices” eventually came into my head, but only after the extremely difficult teen to 20 years that I faced an artificial mainstream existence – alone. The voices never change, they come in a variety pack…including a few dark colors.

    This artificial existence, that we have collectively created, is the damning judge, court and jury that decides where the lines of spirituality and mainstream “safety” exist. The voices are what have (and continue to do so) shown me the truth, and how to live my life accordingly so. Because the truth will be revealed, and it turns out that quite often what we feel (or see/hear) has been revealed to help us move forward for the greater good.

    There is no dogmatic rules, registered clinicians, or academic cannon to define what we feel to be the truth deep down. I am proud that my mother’s “voices” have been passed on to me, and I am grateful that this web site has been created for others, such as myself, who grow stronger daily through due diligence on persuing the truth that is felt inside…and the voices and visions that help us inch that much closer to reestablishing balance with mother earth and her inhabitants. voices are the key to our survival.

  24. booboo

    What do you do if the person doesn’t want to believe in all positive things you tell them so they can stay busy and eat meals moderatly instead of junk food…my sister hears two people talking saying they are putting poison in the heat vents and she will be dead in two days and there are only two vents in two rooms in the house..she doesn’t go near them..shes been this way for two weeks..she has been seen for this before and has been doing fine until two weeks ago

  25. Zoe

    Hi my mother has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia has been for about 10 years she has been in and out off hospital. she doesn’t know what real anymore the voices to her are real people from around the world. I can understand that to her its very real but lately she thinks she can read minds like today she read my mind and started fighting with me over it then she threatened to hit me I had to leave. I love my Mum but I don’t know what to do anymore in all the years she has been hearing voices they have always been real to her how can you get someone to understand that its not real I know she has to find out herself but how can I help ?

    please help me…

  26. ehsan

    the good voices are only in the “preparative” . So you start trusting in them once you have trust in them then they will fool you. Ivhear them and am on meds… 🙁

  27. Ashton

    This advice really helped me. The voices inside my head tell me to hurt others I care about. I do still hear them and I get a wierd felling every time I don’t do it. It’s like a scared felling and I’m kind of young. I just want it to stop I don’t know what to do.

  28. Sharon

    OK, so long story started hearing voices about 4 yrs ago, have had about 4 relapses, they seem to be coming and going according to my emotions. I’ve had about a million different theory’s about what they are, were they come from, still have no clue, Ive looked up everything possible, Ive also had visions and tactile sensations, and a buzzing which is really really annoying to deal with that’s just another issue tinnitus. Like from spiritual, to telepathy, to everything under the sun. I’ve tried medication they don’t work well except to help me sleep, and the morning ones give me brain fog.Its just very frustrating, and can be unbearable at times. Having like music, or distracting noises seem to help a bit at least to drown it out.

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