Connecting People and Ideas in the Hearing Voices Movement

An account of hearing voices as a child

David Batty, Friday November 16, 2001, SocietyGuardian.co.uk

Janneke, from Heerhugowaard in northern Holland, began to hear five male voices in January 1993. They pestered and threatened her, giving her strange commands.

“They’d say if I didn’t count trees – and I hate maths – my parents would die in an accident,” she recalls. “I became very insecure and frightened and couldn’t sleep. I’d lie awake until 3 or 4am.”

Janneke told one of her friends about the voices. Unfortunately the girl’s mother found out and decided she must be mad.

“I lost quite a lot of friends,” she says. “I was teased at school and my headmaster said I had a disability and wanted me to be kept back a year. But a psychologist said there were no grounds as I had above average intelligence.”

Fortunately Janneke’s parents and her GP had heard of Romme and Escher’s work from a Dutch TV documentary. She was referred to a paranormal healer who helped her to identify a female voice, called Vie – meaning life in French – which comforted her.

“Vie helped me to control the male voices and supported me when I told them to go away,” says Janneke. “She was like a personal coach. She even helped me practice synchronised speed swimming, encouraged me to do my homework and to go out and make more friends.”

“After a year, all the male voices disappeared. I still heard Vie but then I injured my leg and needed to have a series of operations. Vie couldn’t help me with physical problems but I found I could cope on my own.”

Vie gradually faded into the background and went away for good in 1999 after Janneke changed schools. “I didn’t need her anymore,” she says.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Janneke wants to be a psychologist and is currently studying for a nursing degree.

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