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What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding…?



Well-known member
Mar 23, 2009
Seeing the stigma and ignorance attached to mental distress gets me down. So I was kinda pleased to see a glimpse, a small crack of light, of a more refreshing and positive outlook towards mental distress especially hearing voices in the weekend Guardian.

My own reaction in reading the article was being able to relate to the guy’s experience. Sometimes it is easier to hold back on telling friends etc. about certain things connected to your mental distress mainly, I think, out of protecting them. And fear of losing them. There are so many myths, ignorance, assumptions and fear connected to mental distress. This increases distress, isolation and alienation along with a sense of rejection for the individual.

Finding people who are aware, open, honest, trusting, understanding and to accept you for who you are, as an equal, is a rare phemonenon. And the below quote from the guy’s article resonated deeply for me.

Ten years ago, at 29, I was told I had paranoid schizophrenia. Friends - well, people I thought were friends - immediately associated the diagnosis with knife-wielding murderers. A lot of them stopped having anything to do with me. I realised I’d been given a label that comes with a huge stigma and a prescription of potent, but in my case useless, medication.

There is a kind hierarchy of ‘acceptable’ distress unfortunately voice hearing is the last taboo. And this is demonstrated in all aspects of society, from your nearest and dearest to MH professionals. This shouldn’t be the case but it is.

I was also pleased that the article argues for alternatives to medication, especially when it comes to hearing voices massive doses of drugs are shoved down your throat in the hope of ridding the voices. Instead, in many cases and I include myself, it causes further misery. The solution within the MH system is the automatic reach for the medication without any hesitation or even thought of alternatives.

My own approach to medication is that it should be the choice of the individual and they should be given all the information regarding the drug. It should be their decision.

And that’s why I felt positive about the article as it highlighted alternatives and optimism about living with voices. But at the same time taking control and being defiant, feeling powerful as opposed to powerless (and that is what taking massive doses of chemical coshes can do). And feeling you won’t be overwhelmed, trapped by the sense of being a prisoner in your own mind.

I know of the fantastic work Hearing Voices Network which is held together on a financial shoe string, have done over the years, indeed they are innovative, creative, radical and an understanding organisation. The people who have been involved over the years have been a life saver. And they helped me come to terms with my own voices by working out strategies, yes indeed, it does sometimes fail and I have spiralled down into the usual abyss but at least I am awake and not comatosed by chemical coshes. At least I feel alive and human. They also gave me the confidence to understand where the voices came from and raised my own consciousness about alternatives.

I can’t big them up enough. Their stance towards voice hearing has been influential along with the work of Marius Romme, Sandra Escher, Phil Thomas and Pat Bracken. They are a thorn in the side of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which is rather good in my books, and they are a viable alternative to the medical model prevalent in the MH system. It is also about treating the individual as a whole person as opposed to a cluster of symptoms/bio-chemicals with the end result being determined by which drug to dope you up with. Zombification of the mind and spirit, functioning level a big fat zero.

To be honest, it is hard writing about voice hearing as still at the back of my mind I wonder what assumptions people will conclude about me. The stigma, stereotypes and fear is there.

The optimism and bravery towards the end of the article actually gave me hope:

I’m off medication now and have been discharged from mental health services. I’ve got my own place and have a girlfriend, and I train nurses and mental health staff in helping others to engage with their voices. The fact that I can speak with genuine understanding means I usually have a captive audience. I also work with people who hear voices, getting them to understand the benefits of talking back.

I’ve learned that my voices themselves are not a problem. It’s my relationship with them that’s important. Facing them and working with them has changed my life and made me feel optimistic about it instead of scared.


I would like to point out that i am not anti meds but do believe that (a)like a lot of treatments including non medical or alternative ones their benefits are overhyped (2) The dosage should be the lowest one possible to help the individual (3) If a person is coping ok with their symptoms and not presenting a danger to themselves or others then they should not be browbeaten into taking medication if they do not want to.Medication certainly shouldn't be used as a means of social control to bring people who think differently, but present no danger to themselves or others and are coping ok with their symptoms, into line.
(4) I am not anti psychiatry but am critical of psychiatry after many bad experiences with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals over the years.
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Very interesting - Thank you for posting this. I will look more in depth at the links & reply again.
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