Despite being relatively common, many people who hear voices, see visions or have similar experiences feel alone. Fear of prejudice, discrimination, and being dismissed as ‘crazy’ can keep people silent. At a time when we are told that it is ‘time to talk’, it is important that anyone courageous enough to speak out is met with respect and empathy.
“I am so incredibly grateful to have found this site, to know that I am not alone and reaffirm that I am not insane” – Nick
Once a topic even mental health professionals would shy away from, things are beginning to change. A growing body of testimonial, clinical and research evidence shows that hearing voices is a diverse experience that is not necessarily linked to illness. In fact, the majority of people who hear voices are not diagnosed with any illness at all. Some find voices and visions an important part of their life.
Voices and visions are personally meaningful experiences that happen in the context of people’s lives. This context can include spiritual practice or religion, culture, traumatic life experiences, social injustice, physical illness and/or other difficulties. Our lives are not always easy, and living with voices can be very difficult too.
“The voices I hear can be a nightmare, but they’ve taught me a lot about the things I need to change in my life” – Catherine
Whatever the origin of someone’s voices or visions, the relationship they have with them is key. Voices or visions that frighten or overwhelm us are harder to deal with than those that we simply find a little annoying, or even enjoy listening to. With help, people can find some new ways of relating to and dealing with difficult experiences.
To us, there’s no such thing as a ‘hopeless case’. People of all ages and backgrounds have found ways of living with voices and visions. That’s why we focus on creating respectful and empowering spaces, whilst challenging the inequalities & oppressive practices that hold people back.
At HVN we acknowledge that
- Hearing Voices* is a relatively common diverse human experience that has many different causes. It is not necessarily linked to illness.
- People have a right to define their own experiences, whatever they believe the origin of the voices to be.
- It is important for people’s experiences to be accepted, validated, valued and believed – even when they challenge societal norms.
- Hearing Voices Groups – spaces where people come together to share experiences of voices & visions – can be an important part of finding ways to talk about and live with them.
- Family members, friends, allies, academics and professional supporters need spaces to learn about, and talk about, voices* too.
- We do not exist inside a bubble. Whatever their origin, voices* are linked to our relational, social, cultural, spiritual, historical and political worlds. Addressing inequalities, isolation, discrimination, trauma and societal problems is a key part supporting people who hear voices.
- When people are distressed or confused by their voices* or visions, they should be able to access a choice of rights-based support that helps them make sense of and manage their experiences.
- Access to a range of good quality information can be empowering.
* ‘hearing voices’ is used as an umbrella term and includes seeing visions and having other similar experiences (including touch, taste and smell).