Ever since her teenage years, Sederia Lewis heard voices. Despite common perceptions about voices, hers encouraged her to reach for her goals, and to overcome obstacles in her life. Despite her own positive experiences with the voices, telling others about them led to numerous trips to therapists and psychiatrists, as well as medications to lessen their presence in her life. Though some of this work was helpful to her, she mostly learned to not tell people about what she was hearing. At the same time, she didn’t gain the tools to make sense of her life, or to move forward. Eventually she began to find her way by connecting with peer groups, and then the hearing voices network. In her first hearing voices group facilitator training, she discovered that she was not alone in hearing voices, and that hearing voices could be seen as a source of strength.
In 2014, to further explore her experiences with voices, Sederia helped to start the first hearing voices group in Berkeley. As her participation in this group, and others continued, Sederia found she was able to make healthier choices in all areas of her life. As she built new habits of living, developed greater inner strength, as well as a community of mutual support, she found the voices stopped. In one sense, they have been replaced with voices from the group she facilitates, which has flourished now with an average of 15 participants per group.
Much of the behind the scenes work for this group, and others like it requires significant support. The Bay Area Hearing Voices Network, is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to developing awareness around voices, visions, unusual beliefs and extreme states, and depends on volunteers to function. Our groups are part of the international hearing voices network, which seeks build community and change perceptions of the experience of hearing voices. But to sustain and build communities like the one that Sederia leads, we are asking for your financial assistance. As little as $1 will keep our website up for a week, $40 for a year, and $150 could pay for a speaker at a local organization. If we can reach our goal of $25,000, we can improve our website, and apply for grants to expand the services we provide. With your help, we will expand opportunities for people to understand these experiences, so that like Sederia, when a supportive voice leaves us, we will always have a place to go where we can find another.
What is it like hearing voices that others can't? For Jeannie Bass, hearing voices is her daily reality. The medical term is "auditory hallucinations." Jeannie is a leader in the Hearing Voices Movement, which aims to re-frame and destigmatize the extreme mental experiences that society labels as "crazy."
To see video see link
Can the breakdown of psychosis show the way forward to spiritual breakthrough? Is there a path through the depths of mental health crisis independent of hospitals, doctors, and therapists? Adrian Bernard was labeled a chronic schizophrenic and spent 20 years living on a disability check. After surviving a spiritual ordeal tested by God he is today manager at the Second Story hospital alternative in Santa Cruz California, where listening, community, art and music help people like Adrian make their way back from madness.
To listen to check the link
Written by Tori Rodriguez, MA, LPC
Historically, there have been low expectations for recovery in schizophrenia, which is associated with high rates of morbidity, mortality, and disability, as well as estimated annual economic costs of $155.7 billion and a 10% to 15% employment rate.1 In recent years, the focus of mental health policy and treatment for individuals with schizophrenia in the United States has shifted from stabilization of those with chronic disease to intervention in the early stages of the illness.
For more see the link
Written by Emily Knoll
Emily Knoll discusses the therapeutic interventions that have helped her come to terms with hearing voices
For more see the link
Article from Recovery network: Toronto : Recovery as a Self-Directed Process of Healing and Transformation
Written by Patricia E. Deegan Ph.D.
The word “recovery” has now stuck onto every sentence uttered in mental health services just so we’ll know just how “recovery oriented” everything and everyone has now become.
“Recovery oriented” is now an established branding but just what does that mean?
And what do they mean by “recovery”?
In this article Pat Deegan shares at some length, her journey of how she started to struggle, how things started to take a strange turn for her, then how others – adults – took charge and decided that she was ill and that they needed to take control of and set limits on her life.
For more see the link
The BAHVN is happy to announce a one-day family voices & beliefs workshop, organized with our sister group, South Bay Project Resource. The workshop will take place on Saturday, March 26th, from 10-5 pm at the Cubberly Community Center (Room H-6) at 4000 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.
Please click here to register for the training. Our primary audience is family members and individuals with experience of voices, beliefs and/or unusual experiences, but we're happy to include other interested community members and allies.
BAHVN acting director, Nev Jones, is the lead author of the first national survey of HVN facilitators in the US, published this week in the journal Psychosis. Access a pdf of the article here. Abstract below.
Empirical research on naturalistic hearing voices movement groups (HVG) has been limited to date. In an effort to better understand facilitator perspectives and variations in the structure of groups in the USA, we conducted a facilitator-led national survey of HVG facilitators. The survey included both close-ended and open-ended questions and was available online for 1 year. Participants were asked about the structure and composition of their groups, their perspectives on membership, clinician involvement, facilitator training and perceived impact of group participation on members. Thirty-two facilitators participated. The results underscore the diversity of HVG in the USA. The authors highlight three findings of interest: (1) participants’ disagreements or uncertainty regarding a narrower HVG focus on experiences that would traditionally be described as “sensory hallucinations” versus a broader subset of extreme or unusual experiences (including “beliefs”); (2) tensions regarding HVG collaboration with clinicians; and (3) insights into impact.
The BAHVN Board wrote the following letter in response to a Huffington Press post criticizing the HVN by Canadian parent advocate Susan Inman. Multiple organizations and individuals have signed on (see below)--if you're interested in joining, please let us know,
We write to express our concern and misgivings about Susan Inman’s recent post (“What You’re Not Hearing About the Hearing Voices Movement”). Ms. Inman has profoundly mischaracterized hearing voices networks (HVNs) and also demonstrates a troubling lack of understanding of the empirical literature on psychosis, optimal psychosocial intervention and recovery.
We--the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network (BAHVN)--are a regional HVN that includes peers, family members, clinicians, and researchers. Many of the peers who attend our groups (and the loved ones of affiliated family members) take--and benefit from--antipsychotic medications. Many of us have also struggled (personally or within our families) with very “severe” and disabling forms of psychosis and are no strangers to the enormous challenges involved. Instead it is precisely in response to the enormity of these challenges that we undertake the work we do. Our goal is not to challenge psychiatry, but rather to create spaces in which dialogue is possible, and in which the personal meaning of psychotic experiences (and their social and cultural contexts) are centered.
There is no sense in which the mission of our group (or any regional or national HVN, to our knowledge) is to discourage medication use; instead we emphatically stress the highly individual nature of voices and psychosis and the importance of both peers and family members exploring what works for them. Medications are only one possible aid in an evidence-based and evidence-informed toolbox that includes peer support, psychosocial rehabilitation, community reintegration and an array of therapies (including mindfulness and compassion-focused therapy for voices; Thomas et al., 2014). An open access special issue of Schizophrenia Bulletin (the leading schizophrenia research journal) published last year, covers many of these issues including a review of psychosocial approaches to auditory hallucinations, a paper on distinct voice sub-types, auditory hallucinations in both with and without a need for care and a peer-reviewed overview of the hearing voices network approach.
Turning to the scientific literature more broadly, Ms. Inman’s post appears largely ignorant of research on voices and psychosis over the past two decades. Socioenvironmental causes and contributories are well-documented, including childhood sexual trauma and bereavement (Bebbington et al., 2011; Bentall & Fernyhough, 2008; Kirkbride et al., 2014; Matheson et al., 2013; Varese et al., 2012). Leading biomedical researchers have repeatedly underscored that “schizophrenia” is a misleading term implies a false unity of multiple, etiologically distinct, “psychoses” (Keshavan et al., 2013). Voices (or auditory verbal hallucinations) are found at high rates across diagnoses, including major depression, PTSD and DID. Estimates of voice hearing in the healthy (non-clinical) general population range from 5-15% (Beavan et al., 2013). In reviewing Marius Romme’s research, Ms. Inman decontextualizes a body of work that has largely focused on the range of voices (or auditory hallucinations) occurring outside the schizophrenia spectrum and within healthy populations, at present a large and active area of research for many scientists and epidemiologists (see the work of the International Consortium on Hallucination Research).
Clinical researchers and stigma experts have amply demonstrated that “biomedical” explanations of schizophrenia increase (rather than alleviate) stigma, for instance exacerbating the general public’s belief that people with schizophrenia are “dangerous” and decreasing the hope and self-esteem of peers (Angermeyer et al., 2013, 2014; Kvaale et al., 2013ab; Schomerus et al., 2012). A recent study suggests that individuals who endorse a biomedical view of their experiences are also significantly less likely to benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, currently the front-line evidence-based therapy for psychosis in Canada, the US and the UK (Freeman et al., 2013).
Research attesting to the importance of engaging with and integrating the symptoms and experiences of psychosis with one’s identity and sense of self (“integrating” versus “sealing off”) goes back to the 1970s and has continued up to the present (McGlashan et al., 1975; Thompson et al, 2003; de Jager et al., 2015). Decades of work on factors involved in recovery attest to the importance of peer relationships, sense of belonging, and the active exploration of the impact of one’s symptoms on one’s life (e.g. Sells et al., 2003; Davidson et al., 2008).
Finally, Ms Inman’s use of “evidence based practices” concerns us. The “evidence base” is constantly evolving and new interventions (that do not yet have evidence behind them) are continuously piloted and evaluated. Current treatments fail many. Antipsychotic medications are only partially effective or ineffective for a large percentage of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia (this is not a controversial claim); likewise the long-term impact of evidence-based strategies such as early intervention for psychosis remain inadequate. Ten year follow-up data for the important OPUS trial of early intervention, for example, found no difference between participants and controls provided treatment as usual in employment, education, or marital status after ten years; the vast majority of individuals across groups were unemployed and struggling; Secher et al., 2014). Even “good responders” to medications all too often do not recovery socially--i.e. in the sense of employment or community integration--without psychosocial supports and social intervention (Morgan et al., 2014).
As any scientist would agree--and certainly those of us intimately affected by psychosis--we must continually innovate, test new strategies and interventions and provide hope and support to both peers and family members.
We encourage Ms Inman (and everyone) to join us in respectful dialogue, and to critically and objectively read and engage with lived experience, clinical experience and the research literature.
The Board of the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network
Dirk Corstens MD on behalf of the InterVoice Board
Hearing Voices Network-USA (HVN-USA)
Ron Coleman & Karen Taylor, Working to Recovery
National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
Hearing Voices Network--New York City
Chicago Hearing Voices
Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network
Light of Madness (Portland, OR)
NAMI Pennsylvania Montgomery County
The Campbell Center, Washington DC
Dr. Cherise Rosen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago
Dr. Sarah Keedy, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago
Dr. Neil Thomas, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Swinburne University & Director,
Voices Clinic at Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre
Jim Probert PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Florida
Jean Campbell PhD (retired; Missouri Department of Mental Health)
Will Hall MA DiplPW
AJ French CRSS
Kate Hill, Director, Portland Hearing Voices
Wellness & Recovery Human Rights Campaign (Vermont)
Alan Feinberg AICP
Leah Rokeach LCSW
Angermeyer, M. C., Daubmann, A., Wegscheider, K., Mnich, E., & Schomerus, G. (2014). The relationship between biogenetic attributions and desire for social distance from persons with schizophrenia and major depression revisited. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 1-7.
Bebbington, P., Jonas, S., Kuipers, E., King, M., Cooper, C., Brugha, T., ... & Jenkins, R. (2011). Childhood sexual abuse and psychosis: data from a cross-sectional national psychiatric survey in England. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 199(1), 29-37.
Bentall, R. P., & Fernyhough, C. (2008). Social predictors of psychotic experiences: specificity and psychological mechanisms. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 34(6), 1012-1020.
Corstens, D., Longden, E., McCarthy-Jones, S., Waddingham, R., & Thomas, N. (2014). Emerging perspectives from the Hearing Voices Movement: implications for research and practice. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40(Suppl 4), S285-S294.
Davidson, L., Schmutte, T., Dinzeo, T., & Andres-Hyman, R. (2008). Remission and recovery in schizophrenia: practitioner and patient perspectives. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 34(1), 5-8.
de Jager, A., Rhodes, P., Beavan, V., Holmes, D., McCabe, K., Thomas, N., ... & Hayward, M. (2015). Investigating the Lived Experience of Recovery in People Who Hear Voices. Qualitative Health Research, 1049732315581602.
Freeman, D., Dunn, G., Garety, P., Weinman, J., Kuipers, E., Fowler, D., ... & Bebbington, P. (2013). Patients' beliefs about the causes, persistence and control of psychotic experiences predict take-up of effective cognitive behaviour therapy for psychosis. Psychological Medicine, 43(02), 269-277.
Keshavan, M. S., Clementz, B. A., Pearlson, G. D., Sweeney, J. A., & Tamminga, C. A. (2013). Reimagining psychoses: an agnostic approach to diagnosis. Schizophrenia Research, 146(1), 10-16.
Kirkbride, J. B., Jones, P. B., Ullrich, S., & Coid, J. W. (2012). Social deprivation, inequality, and the neighborhood-level incidence of psychotic syndromes in East London. Schizophrenia Bulletin, sbs151.
Kvaale, E. P., Gottdiener, W. H., & Haslam, N. (2013). Biogenetic explanations and stigma: A meta-analytic review of associations among laypeople. Social Science & Medicine, 96, 95-103.
Kvaale, E. P., Haslam, N., & Gottdiener, W. H. (2013). The ‘side effects’ of medicalization: A meta-analytic review of how biogenetic explanations affect stigma. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 782-794.
Matheson, S. L., Shepherd, A. M., Pinchbeck, R. M., Laurens, K. R., & Carr, V. J. (2013). Childhood adversity in schizophrenia: a systematic meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 43(02), 225-238.
McCarthy-Jones, S., Thomas, N., Strauss, C., Dodgson, G., Jones, N., Woods, A., ... & Sommer, I. (2014). Better than mermaids and stray dogs? Subtyping auditory verbal hallucinations and its implications for research and practice. Schizophrenia Bulletin., 40(Suppl 4), S275-S284.
McGlashan, T. H., Levy, S. T., & Carpenter, W. T. (1975). Integration and sealing over: clinically distinct recovery styles from schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 32(10), 1269-1272.
Morgan, C., Lappin, J., Heslin, M., Donoghue, K., Lomas, B., Reininghaus, U., ... & Dazzan, P. (2014). Reappraising the long-term course and outcome of psychotic disorders: the AESOP-10 study. Psychological Medicine, 44(13), 2713-2726.
Schomerus, G., Schwahn, C., Holzinger, A., Corrigan, P. W., Grabe, H. J., Carta, M. G., & Angermeyer, M. C. (2012). Evolution of public attitudes about mental illness: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 125(6), 440-452.
Secher, R. G., Hjorthøj, C. R., Austin, S. F., Thorup, A., Jeppesen, P., Mors, O., & Nordentoft, M. (2014). Ten-year follow-up of the OPUS specialized early intervention trial for patients with a first episode of psychosis. Schizophrenia Bulletin, sbu155.
Sells, D. J., Stayner, D. A., & Davidson, L. (2004). Recovering the self in schizophrenia: An integrative review of qualitative studies. Psychiatric Quarterly, 75(1), 87-97.
Thomas, N., Hayward, M., Peters, E., van der Gaag, M., Bentall, R. P., Jenner, J., ... & McCarthy-Jones, S. (2014). Psychological therapies for auditory hallucinations (voices): Current status and key directions for future research. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40(Suppl), S202-S212.
Thompson, K. N., McGorry, P. D., & Harrigan, S. M. (2003). Recovery style and outcome in first-episode psychosis. Schizophrenia Research, 62(1), 31-36.
Van Os, J., Rutten, B. P., & Poulton, R. (2008). Gene-environment interactions in schizophrenia: review of epidemiological findings and future directions. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 34(6), 1066.
Varese, F., Smeets, F., Drukker, M., Lieverse, R., Lataster, T., Viechtbauer, W., ... & Bentall, R. P. (2012). Childhood adversities increase the risk of psychosis: a meta-analysis of patient-control, prospective-and cross-sectional cohort studies. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 38(4), 661-671.