Hearing Voices? Or know someone who is?

August 17th, 2013

Having worked more than 2 decades in Mental Health Services, I am disappointed with the efficacy of antipsychotic drugs, and the overall cost-benefits for patients. I was spoilt early on by my exposure to the successes of family therapy, and later some other things.

I trust that there are some patients who have stunning improvements following the introduction of such medications.  However, they are likely to be a small percentage. I attended the workshop by Professor Doug Turkington (psychiatrist) in October 2012 [CBT for Critical/Command Hallucinations] – he thought that if antipsychotics were going to work, one would see the effect within 2 weeks, and about 30% of patients would get a good response “if they take them,” (but many dislike them, and do not willingly take them.) He also said that medications have very little effect on delusions.

Below I have posted a recent TED talk by Eleanor Longden, who talks about her recovery from serious problems which earned the diagnosis of schizophrenia.  She is intelligent and eloquent. She describes the journey from first hearing a voice, to the spiral into a life as a psychiatric patient, and a period of terror and torment.

Eleanor mentioned Intervoice, an organisation which promotes the use of groups for those who hear voices.  They do not try to eliminate the voices as if they were a pest.  Instead they promote dialogue with the voices, believing they are of value and hold important information one can learn from.  These groups can be in tandem with medication, or the only treatment.

I had earlier heard of Intervoice, following a short TV story about a “Hearing Voices” group in Victoria – below is a 3 minute clip showing the story.

Although not included in the clip, information on the website indicated, “many people who have previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia can – and do – safely withdraw from their medication once they have made sense of their experiences and found ways of dealing with them.”

These groups are just one way of intervening with serious problems involving voices.  I posted this so more people are aware there are more choices than antipsychotic drugs, and stories such as Eleanor’s may give families and professionals hope.

Although Intervoice was started by a psychiatrist, Professor Marius Romme, he does not favour using the term “schizophrenia,” as it is stigmatising and pessimistic.

For more information about Intervoice http://www.intervoiceonline.org/about-intervoice

Thanks.  Tom Blackford


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