Many people with psychosis hear voices. Such voices are considered “auditory hallucinations”, and they constitute one of the so-called positive symptoms of schizophrenia. In fact, many people in general hear voices. While schizophrenia is estimated to affect 1% of all people, the percentage of people who hear voices has been estimated to be as high as 25 per cent.
Psychiatry’s traditional approach to voices has been to reduce or eliminate auditory hallucinations by the application of antipsychotic medications. Sometimes this succeeds, albeit with the potential high cost of significant and often iatrogenic side effects. Sometimes this doesn’t succeed, leaving an individual who hears such voices hearing them still.
Perhaps a more benign alternative approach is to accept, accommodate, manage, redirect, and try to understand such voices. In addition to (or instead of) the possibility of voices resulting from biochemical imbalances in the brain, voices may also result from painful or disturbing associations in the mind, more specifically deeply seated and unresolved psychological stress arising from physical or psychological trauma. Thus it may be worth considering an alternative to heavy antipsychotic medication as a treatment approach to the presence of auditory hallucinations.
To help families and their loved ones who may hear voices research the issue of hearing voices, PsychOdyssey is pleased to present a new page on Hearing Voices of in our “Research…” section, accessible here.