Hearing Voices – putting things into context … and moving on
(an article by Thomas Wiegandt as response to the Hearing Voices conference
in Cork 10-11-06)
Trapped (in our mind)
The western world with its predominantly materialistic view of today¹s world
classifies someone who hears voices as being schizophrenic, meaning someone
with a split personality, who is a scare and potential danger to the
community. Most voice hearers in our society are either on medication as a
standard measure or institutionalized. The majority of voice hearers stay in
that situation over a long period of time and become even more isolated and
marginalized. There are hardly any options available even to the ones who
don¹t agree to the common routine of being numbed by chemicals just to
function. There is generally not much of a therapeutical approach or a
thorough research of the phenomenon of voice hearing in order to help a
fellow human being to cope with the situation or to improve it.
Hearing voices is an individual phenomenon, which can vary greatly. Voices
can range from evil and threatening to benevolent and spiritually guiding.
It can appear at any stage of the life for obvious or unknown reasons or it
can be drug induced. A thorough and open minded individual research of the
voice hearing is fundamental to develop coping strategies.
As hearing voices is a social stigma in our society a lot of voice hearers
have gone ³under cover² early in their lives to avoid being classified,
ridiculed and bullied as being ³crazy² or ³mad². They would generally not
speak about hearing voices, even not to their close ones. It¹s a fair guess
to assume that there are a lot of voice hearers among us that fall into this
category, who obviously would have a wide range of coping mechanisms to live
their lives with little or no outside help.
The bigger picture
Our western industrial civilisation with its mainly materialistic and
egocentric philosophy and its alienation from nature is a fairly recent
developement in the history of mankind. For at least 50000 years people in
tribal societies all over the world have lived in harmony with nature in
their environments. Their philosophy was animistic, which means that they
believed that everything around them was alive and had a soul and feelings.
Even today some tribal people in very remote places still live in that
ancient way according to their shamanic belief systems. In the animistic
world everything is alive, which includes the earth and the universe and all
invisible forces. It is therefor important to maintain good relationships to
all beings. This ancient belief is known as shamanism, a ³religion² that
existed long before today¹s world religions came into existence, a belief
where all levels or parts of a being – physical, emotional, mental and
spiritual – are equally acknowledged and dealt with.
The shaman, being priest, healer, advisor in personal and social matters,
artist and musician all in one person, is the key figure in a tribal
society. One of his important tasks is to make contact with the spirit world
or the ³otherworld² to communicate with the forces thought responsible for
the different aspects of life and the well-being of all. Hearing voices is
the listening part of the shamanic communication with the higher forces much
in the same way as the privileged or ³chosen² followers of all world
religions hear the voices of God, the angels or the saints and prophets.
Voice hearing has been always and still is considered as being close to the
spirit or God and is part of a dialogue.
A simple, but proven approach
If people today, regardless of the conventions of our society, can accept
and believe for themselves that a human being has a body, feelings, a mind
and a soul or spirit, then there is generally no problem with hearing voices
from other realities than just the material level. Hearing voices is an
invitation to enter a dialogue and talk to the ³voice² like you would to a
real person, most of us have done this as children already, before it became
a taboo. Even if some voices are malicious or threatening, there is no big
difference to any scary situation in our everyday world, as we can react by
voicing our opinion in various ways, by fighting back or asking others for
To openly talk about hearing voices is important to bring the issue into the
open and to eventually lift the existing taboo, especially as there are more
voice hearers than we think out there anyway. It is equally essential to
talk to the voices, which will most of the time set a process in motion,
that will improve the situation. Some voice hearers would, especially in the
beginning, need support with any new step they are going to make. Local peer
group meetings and workshops are as important as the availability of open
minded, experienced and responsible therapists, who preferably work with a
compassionate holistic approach.
Shamans in tribal societies have used sound along with other practices as an
effective remedy for thousands of years to get in contact with ³voices² and
to communicate with the invisible world. Sound resonates in the body and the
soul and changes our consciousness and the state of our whole being
profoundly. Certain sounds and rhythms reduce the overactivity of our mind
and allow us to drop more into our body. This can bring about positive
change by dissolving stagnant energy and connecting with forgotten events
earlier in life. Sound Healing ultimately restores harmony, which is the
natural, unharmed and happy state of being.
Detailed information on Sound Healing can be found on www.drums-ireland.com
(Thomas Wiegandt works as a music therapist using sound in a shamanic way
for healing purposes and has treated clients with many different conditions
– physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
He has worked for the Health Board, Rehab Care, CoAction, Schizophrenia
Ireland and various youth organisations.)
Thomas Wiegandt, Drumming Centre West Cork, Ballybane, Ballydehob, Co. Cork
Tel. 028-37323, e-mail: email@example.com, web: drums-ireland
Copyright 2006 Thomas Wiegandt
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