writing about my life

Testimony of a Voice Hearer

with 2 comments

Some see the voices as spirits – made of ethereal energy not matter – hence they can have no body. Others see them as the voices of existent fleshly people who are transmitting stuff by telepathy. In this case the speaker has a body but no visual image is transmitted. In the film “A Beautiful Mind” , the schizy hero Nash is protrayed as seeing his voices as real present people. This may have been necessary for the dramatisation but I think most schizophrenics only hear, not hear and see.

I see my voices as a modern version of spiritual beings – they are mental figments within my own mind. I experience them as disembodied. Their presence is insistent and I may try to exercise mental control to snuff them out but it doesnt usually work. In earlier stages of my illness I did think I was being truly telepathic and that my voices were those of real people who knew consciously what they were saying to me. I grew out of this belief though and now I know clearly that no one else can hear my voices and that they belong my own private mental world only. If I hear Jack’s voice saying soemthing to me I know now it is not the real Jack but a vivid puppet version of Jack my mind has created. Often it is what jack might have said. Possibilities are explored beyond the control of the will, like losing your temper or falling in love.

One of the characteristics of the voice experience is that there is a limited bandwidth to the voice experience compared to “real” communication. Bandwidth is the amount of information transferred over time, like broadband. On the telephone one can only hear a voice through the phone, one can’t see the person. thus there is less information transferred (lower bandwidth) than if the person you are speaking to was present in the flesh.

There seems to be no body language experienced from my voices when I am talking to them. Body language is one of the main ways we sense emotion, mood and mental state when we meet and communicate with someone in the flesh. It is not the only way though, someone’s tone of voice carries signals about their feelings and intentions too. With auditory voice experiences it is usually possible to make out some kind of tone. But there is usually no visual experience to make the ghostly and semi-unreal voice experience more immersive and detailed.

Sometimes the emotional character of voice dialogues is static and reflects pre existing complexes of emotion and reaction in the voice hearer. If I have persecution feelings then I might easily interpret the tone of my voices as persecutory. This is the voices reflecting my usual emotional mood and habits. They slot into an interpretation that is already there. If I am feeling loved and lovable then the voices may be caring and helpful. Having said this let’s not get too sure of ourselves, like few other things our illnesses are capricious and unpredictable too. The voices arise from an ocean of subconsciuous emotional currents, and they reflect our usual states of being. This is inevitable given the low bandwidth of the voice experience where we cannot see or touch our interlocutors, only hear them as if down a spiritual telephone or on telepathic web chat.

Blind people learn to take so much more information and richness out of only the auditory modality that a sighted person might be very surprised. You can hear a person breathing and shifting in their seat, and feel the disturbance of air currents as they move. This gives many non-sighted the ability to communicate with a richness that cannot be far off the level of a sighted person. Maybe hearing voices can also give us this extra sense of subtlety about the verbal experience. The inner drama of voices is a space in which we expand and experiment with the incredible variety and subtlety of what it means to use words… for communion or competition.

People do experience emotions from their voices, some describe them crying then whey cry, or feeling the mutual discomfort of an angry argument. This emotion cannot be read from body language so must be intuited from the context and form of voice messages, as a self generated emotional experience, a dream of relatedness, perhaps based on past experience or even a whimsy of pure fantasy.

In web chat there is less room to interpret emotion, although most experienced users do. Context is crucial for our intuitive faculties to climb inside the nuts and bolts of a communication and bring it to life with emotional colour (and smileys !) Each different
mode……group on one……physical
sharings such as sex… has different strengths, weaknesses and characteristic feel. Hearing voices is another take on human interaction and being, and clearly has potential, if worked on, to enrich understanding and the experience of being human.

For those who must play this “secret game” with their familiar spirits I feel there is hope. If taken as a learning journey it promises a deepening of the immense subtlety of our experience of social interaction. To be the same person inside…to the voices… as outside… to other embodied humans in the world, necessitates walking the path of sincerity. I have had to work on self-trust and think I am slowly seeing negative critical voices transform into helpful guides and teachers. We can be like playwrights, learning more and more about the subtleties of the drama of our lives. The voices make us think about how we relate to others and feel about issues. They are an experience that seems like a social interaction but strangely is one felt in isolation. In the course of this imagined togetherness we see how we will react to certain situations and learn more about ourselves and what really matters to us. Sometimes the voices can be company too.

But why, oh why do we hear them? Are we people who have been somehow struck by the desperate need to map out words and social transactions better than the non-voice-hearer can? In our inner theatres we rehash and rework the complex possibilities of what people say, because we know the game is so essential for our spiritual survival. Words are so often used to fight, to compete, to dominate, to try to win, anyone who would oppose this must come to know words well. This is what I do and I think a lot of other voice hearers feel something similar. We are learning how to talk afresh, becasue the world’s talk is simply not good enough. Where is real understanding ? Sometimes the voices can be our teachers in this journey towards empathy. To listen sensitively, not to judge, these are things I am beginning to learn as a result of my voice hearer’s journey.

As human intelligence often does, our understanding has split the sides of the world’s mould and reached out for what it wants, something better, shaped closer to our hearts’ desires. We are at an expanding frontier of inner knowledge. In voices we transcend ordinary speech, and remake the world.


Written by Luke Dunn

October 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Prose

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Your writing is really good. I feel like I’ve finally found someone I can relate too. It’s good to think and you’ve got a positive message. I’m going to carry on reading your blog for a while now. It’s quite comforting.

    Jeanette Moore

    February 9, 2014 at 7:11 am

  2. thank you very much! I hope you can enjoy the other stuff, and feel free to comment again 🙂

    Trip Technician

    February 9, 2014 at 7:17 am

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