Accepting and Making Sense of voices is an approach that makes recovery with hearing voices and psychosis possible.
We have been able to demonstrate that it is possible for voice hearers to overcome their problems and live an independent life and can function socially well ( see book “Living with voices”).
The recovery process is based on our own research and research of others (see supporting research).
Epidemiological research showed that hearing voice in it selves is not a sign of madness or a symptom of an illness. It is apparent in 4% of the general population without illness. (van Os et all)
Trauma research demonstrated the causal influence of traumatic experience on the development of psychosis and specially lay at the roots of hearing voices experience. (Read et all 2005 ;2011)
Research from others also working with diagnosed psychotic people showed that people with psychosis are not people with an illness but people with problems (Johnstone 2000; 2006)
Our own Research
Our research focused on the experience of the voice hearing experience and we could demonstrate that the characteristics of the voices refer to the personal problems of the voice hearer. Giving information about the characteristics of the experienced trauma and the distorted emotions involved.
We developed a method to analyze this relationship with an interview focusing on the elements of the experience (see Interview) and a procedure to detect the voice hearer’s problems in cooperation with the voice hearer (see making a construct).
We studied the characteristics of voice hearers who did become patients and those who did not become patients. Patients are afraid of their voices and can’t cope with them. Those who can cope with them don’t become patient and are not afraid of then. Furthermore the experience is the same.
Those who can cope with their voices use their voices to solve their problems.
From our research it showed that voices are messenger.
Voices as messengers
Voices tell in a mostly exaggerated way what the voice hear should do to overcome his/her problems.
This exaggerated way makes the voice hearer afraid and also reminds them of the traumatic experiences and involved emotions. The voices with patients often use threatening metaphors like you should kill yourself, meaning for example, if you don’t defend yourself you could as well be dead. Patient take what the voice say literally and also reminds them of the anxiety and powerlessness felt in the traumatic situation. Or “you are a whore reflecting that they had sexual feelings while sexually abuse and being confused by them. ‘
Recovery as a systematic approach
1) The main issue to start with is to accept ones voices as personal and for voice hearers to meet people who accepts them as real. This is the reason why main stream psychiatry is not helpful but there are many exceptional professionals who are able to make the right start and accept and normalize the experience. They also show interest in the person of the voice hearer in a broader perspective of their being and what has happened in their lives; not only as a patient.
2) It is necessary to start at the phase to which the voice hearer has developed (see menu “developmental phases”)
3) Follow or stimulate stepwise the recovery process, so it becomes possible for the voice hearer to change his/her relationship with their voices. ( see menu steps to recovery)
4) The ultimate purpose is that the person makes his own choices, takes back his power and relates in a more balanced way with society around him/her. He therefore needs to be stimulated not pampered. The person has to become active and to rely on his/her capacities.
5) Problems should not be denied because solving their personal problems is the only way to recovery and that depends on the power of the voice hearers themselves and the use of it. Therefore support and giving hope is essential as well as working on one’s self esteem ( see Ron Coleman (Recovery an alien concept”) This also holds for what is called schizophrenia (see solving the schizophrenia problem).