About the experience The phenomenon and experience affect all of us
About 300 000 000 million people worldwide “live with” the phenomenon most often described as “hearing voices and other extreme states”. Technically, we experience hallucinations as inputs from an (as yet) unidentified source in a wide variety of formats which confuses our usual process of synthesizing a perception from the environment and habitats we live in. Since others around us aren’t receiving the same or similar inputs, it becomes difficult to interpret ‘the phenomenon’ in the world we live in – our shared experience. The mind rightly tags the continuous stream of inputs as invalid – “does not fit” – and madness is the visible distress of trying make sense of it.
The experience detracts from quality of life to varying degrees. Lives are often devastated, certainly curtailed. Onset for most is in the 15-25 year old range, just when individuality is blooming. Parents/family are faced with having to ensure their child is taken care of. Friends struggle to relate and making new friends becomes difficult. A whole world of professionals work in the field.
At least two billion people are directly connected through the experience.
We have struggled for millennia to make sense of the phenomenon and the resulting experience. In an attempt to explain, WE (including you) have developed a wide variety of ‘beliefs’ about what the phenomenon represents, many of which have become embedded in our cultures in different ways.
Sorry folks, your beliefs about this unusual phenomenon and experience are at least as crazy as mine/ours and you don’t even have the weird info we do. I think I can safely speak on behalf of most of us ‘diagnosed’ crazy folk on this point. Unusual beliefs, yours, mine and ours are fueling confusion.
Someone you know hears voices. The experience is awful and lonely and they may not be sharing it for fear of what you will make of it and the stigmatization by most societies.
- INPUTS are imposed on us and confusing - they engage the mind whether we like it or not
- ‘VOICES’ (we need a new name for them) assert a role in our lives via an ‘other’ world
- Our INSTINCT is to FIND value in our interactions, we give meaning to voices and seek to verify it
- The MIND is distressed – the inputs/asserted roles do not fit our (individual or shared) model of the world
- Our sense of BEING is undermined – it disrespects at the fundamental level of concept of self
- The EXPERIENCE is an involuntary, abusive and deeply intrusive relationship with ‘voices’
- We cannot RELATE this experience to you, nor share it with you – it is difficult for you to help
- OPPORTUNITIES and choices become limited – ‘living with’ voices displaces real world living
- LIVES are destroyed, families suffer and the impact is felt in communities and society
The whole world ”lives with” the disrespect of human rights perpetuated and embedded in cultural beliefs derived from the phenomenon – humanity suffers when we accept and act on what voices say. We all own our shared response to this phenomenon.
To make progress, we need clarity. The best place to get that is from professionals in the field backed by good, respected science. We need clear heads and rigor in our language if research is to be effective.
I have dispensed with political correctness in the interests of simplifying our understanding. I try to tell it like it is in the interest of making progress for all of us.
Clarity is good for us who hear voices too. I respect that each voice hearer’s experience is unique. It is the phenomenon and experience that people are trying to understand – the subject of inquiry is madness itself not the individuals caught up in the experience. When we are all on the same side, the few bad players in ‘the system’ will isolate themselves.
NOTE on ‘unusual beliefs’: ‘Voices’ have the value we give them - this is why we have such a proliferation of ‘unusual beliefs’ about them. It should be clear to all of us that if we have to invent ways to find value in voices, then they have no inherent or intrinsic value or meaning. It is a given that our aggregate experience of the phenomenon through history has undermined humanity.
The process of finding value (for us)/meaning (to me) in our experiences is a facet of our evolutionary wherewithal to create and enjoy the habitats we live in. We should not confuse our natural process of finding a meaningful way to participate and contribute in the real world (making sense of) with giving meaning to voices themselves.
The fact that some of us break through and make sense of the experience in our own lives does not make the experience OK. Finding value in it is not the same as choosing it as a preference over other experiences.