Support groups are cropping up globally in a controversial movement to embrace inner dialogues
Although one in eight people report hearing a voice that isn’t theirs within their lifetime, it’s now claimed that “hearing voices” can actually be a coping mechanism, and engaging with voices might benefit your mental health.
Support groups for those wanting to embrace their inner dialogues have started across the globe, including over 180 in the UK, such as the Hearing Voices Network.
These groups offer coping strategies, such as scheduling time to interact with the voices, and wearing headphones to appear as though you’re talking on the phone. The argument is that hearing voices doesn’t necessarily lead to psychosis.
One member, Lisa Forestell, who’s heard voices her entire life, said she wants to keep her voices because they help her focus. Lisa’s voices also help her feel more open to other people’s perspectives. She says she’s better at handling conflict because her voices act as an early warning system for internal stress.
However, there is also concern for the safety of people hearing voices. In a recent US study on schizophrenia, research found those experiencing hallucinations (including voices) were more likely to commit violence. Co-author, Jeffrey Swanson, says the likelihood of violence was low, saying there’s “a big difference” between patients who are aware the voices are only in their head, and those who aren’t.