The Experience of Voice Hearers
From Psychology Today blog
By Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.
When one hears that one is experiencing the hearing of voices, often the response is alarm and the desire to suppress the experience. About ten percent of the population experience voices that others do not hear or may experience other unusual sensory perceptions. When we include such experience as hearing one’s name called when others do not, then we can say the majority of individuals have encountered the experience of hearing voices.
In the more extreme situations, voice hearing usually arises in response to adverse events and stress. But in some situations this extreme state may be helpful and even necessary. With a few clients who had encountered the loss of a loved one, they related experiences of hearing the voice of the deceased or having sensory perceptions which brought the deceased person to mind. Through this experience, they felt comfort and solace, and a connection to the one they lost.
This is not to say that voice hearing cannot be frightening and disturbing. But even the more challenging experiences where the voices are of a distressing nature, it is of no benefit to merely suppress the experience. What is beneficial is to journey with the person as they seek to uncover the meanings of their metaphorical and symbolic images and find the interpretation of their wakened dream. This process requires much patience and dedication on the part of the therapist. It is what is necessary though if one is to be brought from an extreme state of breakdown to a breakthrough. It is what is necessary if new insights are to arise and the person is truly going to gain awareness.
Those experiencing extreme states such as voice hearing are often misunderstood. When we do not understand or wish to dismiss the other, the tactic is to categorize first, and label the other, and put them in a group alienated from ourselves. We create a we vs. them, and we can feel justified in not dealing with them, and we continue on in our ignorance.
There is that space between the spirits and minds, and the distance of this space is based on cumulative traumas and oppression. To enter this space comes with risk, and it is a dangerous territory, but once the journey is made, then there can be that joining of two persons in understanding, humanity, trust, and love.