Hearing Voices Network

Hearing Voices Network USA logo

I was graced with the opportunity to attend a three-day Hearing Voices Network Facilitators’ Training this month conducted by Western Mass Recovery Learning Community trainers. Within the Hearing Voices Network all possible explanations for experiences that would typically be labeled psychosis in a clinical setting are welcomed and allowed along with the additional perspective that the experiences are just a normal variation of human experience. It was stated that one in 10 people hear voices at some point in life and two thirds of them never seek psychiatric services. The Hearing Voices Network is composed of self-help groups throughout the world where people come together to talk about their voices, visions, and unusual experiences in a non-clinical environment with no assumption of an underlying illness to their experiences and no requirement to have any exposure to the mental health system to attend groups. Each individual is allowed the freedom to interpret their experiences in any way and the group accepts that voices and visions are real experiences. The Hearing Voices Network can be considered a civil rights movement that started when a patient confronted the psychiatrist Marius Romme in the 1980’s about limitations of the psychiatric care being provided. Regarding psychiatry’s attempts to stop voices with treatment, Romme eventually compared “eradicating people’s voices to forcing homosexuals to become heterosexual” (Sapey & Bullimore, 2013, p. 4). The groups started in the United Kingdom and are in at least 32 countries around the world now. In the United States there are at least 94 registered groups. The State of Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services has been funding trainings to facilitate the growth of Hearing Voices Network groups. Though not all Maine groups are listed yet, http://www.hearingvoicesusa.org/ does have a listing of some Maine groups including one in Portland. There are additional meetings in Maine forming at peer drop in centers.

Reference

Sapey, B., & Bullimore, P. (2013). Listening to voice hearers. Journal of Social Work,
13(6), 616-632.

Separateness is an Illusion and time requires an observer

I am now back at the Science and Nonduality Conference.  Last year at the conference, I was blown away in tears to listen to a scientist come as close as I have found to how I experience the nature of human existence.

I believe that many who get labeled psychotic have at least begun to experience some of the implications of time not existing separate from an observer and the complete referential nature of everything that can be experienced when the illusion of separateness is pierced.

In time I hope those once in the position of giving the psychotic label for experience will become able to integrate the information from the different sciences enough to instead give some scientific validation for the same experience.

Robert Lanza made a valiant effort last year at the conference in this talk to light the path.

My story: Published by Mad In America this month

In a 2013 United Nations report on “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” it was stated that:

“…medical treatments of an intrusive and irreversible nature, when lacking a therapeutic purpose or when aimed at correcting or alleviating a disability, may constitute torture or ill treatment when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.”

Saddened by the increase in forced treatment in America, I submitted a related abbreviated personal story to Mad In America:

https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/09/god-figment-imagination/

mad in america logo

Defining psychotic: Referential delusions from a nondual perspective

In defining psychotic there is the concept of referential delusions where per the DSM-5 “belief that certain gestures, comments, environmental cues, and so forth are directed at oneself” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 87). This is simply a consequence of there being no external physical world. It is only a construction of our perception, and of course it is completely referential if we created the world in our perception. Most of us are so established or may I suggest barricaded in the perceptual belief of a solid and separate physical world outside of us that we are spared the torture of the constant referential experience and only experience it occasionally as a spiritual or coincidence experience.

Psychosis: Signposts of an emergent identity development stage

After two undergraduate and now one graduate human development course this summer, I have come to believe there is a missing stage of identity development in the field as taught in standard university courses. This is an individual’s conscious sense of self-identity expanding to include everything in the universe. It is often called Self Realization as opposed to the term Self-actualization that was popularized by Maslow with his hierarchy of needs.

On the heels of Darwin there was a popularization of the idea that consciousness was something that developed after a certain point of evolution of individual biological beings with developed brains and neurons, as a neural process or product. Based on this, the mental health field takes experiences labeled psychosis to be meaningless brain or neural processing errors.

A more simple way to look at consciousness that allows the information from different disciplines including physics and phenomena such as out of body experiences and psychic phenomenon to be integrated rather than ignored is that consciousness comes first rather than the brain makes consciousness; a one consciousness that exists out of space and time. The basic idea is that there is really only one consciousness shared by everyone and everything.

A human sense of self or identity could be seen as a bubble forming in the oceanic consciousness and rising to and hanging out for a while on the surface temporarily in a physical way, constructed through a limiting socialization process. We are socialized to see ourselves as separate from others and objects and less than we really are. Separate bubbles floating on the surface of the timeless oceanic consciousness rubbing up against each other, sometimes joining each other to become a larger bubble and other times popping each other, always maintaining direct contact with the source consciousness.

The more true nature is a feeling or recognition of unity with everything and everyone as if there really was only one being. People with increasing frequency have grown into the identity developmental stage of experiencing themselves as both the entire timeless universe and simultaneously as a localized individual habituated through socialization into thinking of themselves as a limited human.

From a human development focused counseling perspective this angle of view of the primacy of consciousness may help to make some rational sense of religious themed experiences that often get labeled psychosis. If the brains and neurons evolved out of consciousness rather than the common mental health view that consciousness is a product of neurons and psychosis results from broken brains or neuron processes, this could allow some experiences usually labeled psychosis to become signposts of this identity development stage.

It may be quite common for a psychological trauma to trigger the start of the extreme state where the socialized separate sense of self begins to break down, ultimately if not interrupted, allowing the underlying true nature to be experienced.   In the process, it can get messy not just with anything from one’s personal history, but anything from any time and place in the one consciousness being potential for experience, or some kind of mixture of them. Once there is a crack in the consensus social programming and some insights to compelling deeper or alternate truths are glimpsed, they often become near impossible to ignore.

Establishing the concept of this expanded sense of self-identity in western cultural, science, and especially mental health friendly terms may help counselors to assist, or clients themselves to navigate through the mess and complete the development process.   Now they often get stuck in the current standard of care of attempting to shut down the developing awareness with psychotropic tranquilizers, and systematic attempts through psychoeducation to try to convince them they have a brain disorder that produces false perceptions so they should not trust their thinking. Without modern language clients often present as seeing themselves as God, Buddha, or Jesus Christ. Rather than the psychosis category of delusion as the patient is told their experience consists of, they may actually have begun to discover the more true nature of one consciousness and have only religious language to relate it to.

It may be more likely that these individuals find their way to a mental health practitioner and receive a medical model brain disease diagnosis than a spiritual guide with an established language to guide them in to completion of the developmental process. It is time for that to change by establishing the concept and language in standard mental health professional training, and in our culture to make sense of and bring consensus to identifying oneself as the entire universe.