Auditory hallucinations afflict an estimated 40,000 British Columbians; new coping procedure has yet to win universal acceptance
BY NICK EAGLAND, THE PROVINCE DECEMBER 1, 2014
Renea Mohammed felt intense anxiety when she heard voices relentlessly telling her she was stupid, was a bad wife and deserved to be dead.
Her struggle with auditory hallucinations — a common symptom of schizophrenia — was harming her marriage and destroying her friendships.
“My voices were very negative and nasty,” said Mohammed, a co-ordinator for Vancouver Coastal Health’s peer support program for mental health and addictions services.
“I can remember a time where I was really struggling with voices, to the point that I had been hospitalized multiple times for suicide attempts.”
She was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and given olanzapine. But medication seemed only part of her solution, until she learned about the Hearing Voices Network during a talk at a Unitarian Church in Vancouver two years ago.
Founded in the Netherlands in 1987, the Hearing Voices Network is an alternative approach that looks at voice-hearing as a meaningful and understandable aspect of human difference — not just a symptom of mental illness.
For Mohammed, who first started to hear voices in her mid-20s, it has become a way to deal with some of the shortcomings and side effects of medication.
Related link on hearing voices: