Thursday, November 20, 2008



October 30, 2008

Hazing (my term) is the place where people who are developing their abilities as mediums just begin vibrating high enough to connect with the spirit world. Unfortunately, the first spirits that can be connected to are the ones who vibrate at the lowest frequency, and they are usually disruptive, negative, mischievous and annoying if not downright mean and hateful. They often seek to confuse a person and keep them running around in circles in their head. They will tell you to hurt yourself or others, or that you are nothing, or that people don't love you and actually hate you when you thought they loved you. Their only purpose is to be ugly to you. They are angry and confused, and want you to be the same.

For the sake of explanation, not necessarily completely accurate, think of a thermometer, and at the bottom is zero. Let's say that that is the average frequency of the internal vibrations or electrical measure of most people who do not hear voices. As mediumship develops, a person who can hear the first voices, the negative ones, might be at 10 vibration, and that negative communications pick-up (think of it as radio waves) may last till you get to about 30 as there are many different kinds within this range. Then after that you get to the benevolent spirits, usually in your ancestral line as they are easier to hear first, that might be from 31 to 45, and then spirit guides, from 46 to 55, and Angels, from 56 to 65, and other beings, all the way up to God at say 90 or so. Although it is important to note that I suspect that God and Angels can reach us, no matter what frequency we can achieve.

If you think of it this way, you are just moving up the scale. But you have to move, or you stay stuck in the lower vibratory communications and then are afraid, frustrated, angry (which lowers your vibrations) and all other manner of systems that don't help your cause of getting out of where you are. Usually, medication won't stop the voices either, so then you have an added issue of taking a chance and going off of them because they don't work for you, which is not good, or always being drugged and the effects of that on your body, and still hearing voices, and that is just not pleasant!

My mother stayed there most of her life. When the abilities began with me and the negative voices started, I knew her example was not one I wanted to follow, and researched and began many hours of prayer. I do mean many – sometimes 8 hours a day -- for a couple of years, but I learned a lot about raising vibrations, and enough to help some people like me and her find a shortcut to some of what I learned. Let me say at this point, I have never been diagnosed as having any mental illness because I don't, and hearing voices doesn't affect my life adversely after I got through hazing, which I will not lie to you, was a rough few years – but I fought accepting that I was ill because I heard voices, unlike my mother who accepted that diagnosis. Now nobody, as in unseen continued spirit folk, talks to me unless they ask permission, or unless I ask permission. I am loosely monitored by three psychologists, two of whom I now work with their clients because after years of watching me, they are developing different views of this.

If you elevate your vibrations, and that can happen through non-begging prayer, (that means no help me Jesus, please just make it go away, help me, help me -- as that is a prayer of desperation -- which connects you to desperate spirits, and logically so when you think about it) meditation, yoga, concentrated thought, or whatever system you might find and use, with prayer being the highest because you are seeking to move outside of yourself to connect to a more powerful energy system in God/Divine Architect/Creator, then your results are faster and more positive I find. Once you do that, the negative voices cannot reach you anymore because you operate on a higher frequency than they can reach, and you are then talking to a whole new group of folks. It is possible.

When you reach this point, you have control and access to all manner of information that only has usually come in snatches before, usually starting in childhood. If you were a child with premonitions that were inconsistent, then there is a possibility that you are not schizophrenic, but a medium in training. You just have to learn how to get control. That is not all people in this category, of course, but may be some.

If you can say the following prayer consistently - like 3 times a day for at least a month, really trying to understand what it means, even if you don't in the beginning, and the voices go away, seem confused (remember that these are not just arbitrary voices, but actual spirit beings that you are communicating with -- this is the hard part because it takes rearranging the way you may have thought the world was organized), or are less hostile or you hear them less often, then you are possibly, or perhaps a hazer. This is important. Never stop the prayer. It is like a control device to keep your vibrations high. As a medium, you will need such devices because of your vibratory differences.

Bear in mind, that in the beginning, possibly for the first two to three weeks, perhaps longer, they may get more hostile because they know you have gotten a system that might work, and that they won't be able to make your life miserable much longer, but they can't sustain the vibratory changes for long, so they will leave, or more accurately, you will leave them, vibratorily speaking. Couple this with burning a candle for your Guardian Angel/Spirit/Guide (does not matter what your faith is - somebody is keeping track of you - - trust me on this for the moment) and you may see major changes. If you do, it is likely that schizophrenia might not be what is happening but mediumship is. But this is tricky.

Please, DON'T go off of medication if you are on it. The changes will override the medication and you will need less of it as time goes on. Stay under the supervision of your medical practitioner, but do these things and the discomfort will generally change over time. You have nothing to lose from this perspective, if you do nothing foolish because of it, so just keep an open mind. Expect, that if you are diligent, you will feel quite different in about 6 to 8 months, a small price to pay if you've had years of this going on. I strongly suggest that you keep a journal, paying close attention to the hours after you say this particular prayer, and keeping track of the activity and content of the voices/spirits. Some will be stubborn.

I also suggest that you find a Sukyo Mahi Kari dojo ( and go to receive light regularly. They have them all over the world and they are free, with only service requested (like washing the windows or dusting), and/or a small donation if you have it. If not, no problem. I've worked with several clients now to separate these things and make the situation clearer. It doesn't matter if you believe it or not at first. What do you have to lose if the voices are making your life miserable? If you simply get out of your own ego and try it, you are likely to see changes. It is this element though, I will say, that is the hardest for people to work past if they are resistant. Your choice, but you do have a choice. If you can find a good, well trained Pranic Healer, this should be useful as well. They too are all over the world. If you are a hazer, you are dealing with an alternate energy state, so it makes sense that a person, or system of alternate energy control might be beneficial for you.

Remember, and this is KEY! Self-involvement, self-pity, anger and frustration will keep you in this perpetual state because they are automatic vibration lowering devices. You will remain a hamster in a wheel unless you work to break this cycle, and that is what the vibration raisers mentioned before will do. It is not as hard as it might seem, in fact it is simple, but requires consistency and getting out of your ego. That is what the Hindu prayer will help you do. Say it even if you don't understand it, and one day, it will almost magically kick in and you will get what it is really about!

Here is the prayer below. Write me at for the Guardian Angel altar information, as it needs more explanation. If you want to understand this better, I strongly suggest that you get my book The Next God or learn more about me at as the book explains not only my journey, but my mother’s to some degree. I am also putting together a questionnaire for interested people, so that I can better distinguish some of the behavior and activities that people who hear voices undergo, so that I can identify hazers more efficiently. So please consider becoming part of this study, and contact me. I will send you the questionnaire once I finish compiling it, and appreciate in advance, your participation.

Think of it like getting through the hazing phase of a fraternity. If you get through it, there is a lot of wonderful stuff on the other side!

Be well and thank you for allowing me to be of possible service in this.

Hindu prayer

Have done with pride and arrogance, conceit, envy, self- assertion;

Practice humility, obedience; worship the Creator.

When a man has abandoned false pride, arrogance and vainglory,

When he has become humble and meek, then does he find true bliss.

Prince and beggar alike must die: not one survives.

Him do thou call living who has died and yet lives.

My enemy “I” is dead: now none can smite me down.

‘Tis I who slay myself: thus, being dead, I live.

We have slain our enemy, we have died; but he is not forgotten.

The thorn remains to vex us. Consider and lay this truth to heart.

Then only wilt thou find the Beloved when thou art as the living dead;

Only by losing thyself canst thou find Him who knoweth all.

Then wilt thou find the Beloved when thou esteemeth thyself as nothing;

Recognize therefore by quiet reflection whence the thought of self arises.

Becoming as the living dead, come thou into the way,

First lay down thy head, then mayest thou venture to plant thy foot.

Know that the way of discipleship is exceeding hard;

The living dead walk in it, the Name of Rama their sign.

So difficult is the way, no living man can tread it;

He only can walk in it, O foolish one, who has died and lives.

Only he who is dead can tread the way that leads to Niranjana;

He finds the Beloved, and leaps the fearsome gulf.

He that is alive shall die: only by dying inwardly shall he meet the Lord;

Forsaking his fellowship who can endure when trouble comes?

O when will this dominion of self pass away? When will the heart forget every other?

When will it be wholly refined? When will it find its true home?

When I am not, then there is one; when I intrude, then two.

When the curtain of “I” and “you” is drawn aside, then do I become ever as I was.

This prayer is found in the book "Every Eye Beholds You - A World Treasury of Prayer" with interfaith prayers from all over the world, edited by Thomas J. Craughwell. It is essential if you are going to make this journey of elevation, even if you are schizophrenic or bi-polar fully, and not just in hazing.,,,
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Mother's Day Proclamation

The poem below was written by Julia Ward Howe. She wrote this in the post civil war movement. It was a call for women to unite for peace and disarmament. She believed it was the responsibility of women to shape society not just through the nurturing of a home, but at a political level as well. What a truly modern thinker. She is considered the the person who started Mother's Day. Modern Mother's has really changed in many ways, maybe it is time to return to the original intention of Ms. Howe.

Mother's Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking of carnage, for
caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of
another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with
our own.
It says:"Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and anvil at the
summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and
earnest day of counsel.

Let them first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with it objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.,,,
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The Spiritual Psychologist
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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vibrating Rocks in England! - Avebury Formation

Vibrating Rocks in England! - Avebury Formation

I have a new English client, Colin, one of my MySpace friends. In honor of his wonderful, wise spirit, I’ve decided that England should be the focus of this week’s blog. Thank you Colin for your support and wisdom! May your engineer’s spirit soar with this tidbit.

In 2005, I visited my friend Mike in England. He took me to the rock formation called Avebury, which is larger and more impressive to me in complexity than Stonehenge. Some of the rocks when I touched them, gave off high sounding/feeling frequencies, some low and others very deep and rumbly, almost like the sound of a giant generator humming, in a pulsating manner. Both Mike and I experienced headaches when we got near the two gigantic rocks (maybe 20 feet high) on the back field. I sat down on one of the rocks and asked a few questions and jotted down some notes and drawings. They went back to Mike’s and asked for a formal reading about the site. This is what I heard. When I looked up the basic components of a telephone, it all made perfectly good sense. I thought you might be interested. My questions are in all CAPS.

March 27, 2005

Message I received:

Avebury was as you were told, an ancient communication system that was used to reach other worlds, and to communicate with God. The frequency created by those power lines (underneath) are capable of allowing normal, non-gifted people to hear what approximates God’s voice so that they were clear about what was needed to be done. When Mike said that they must have had an enormous communication and planning line, he was correct. They were able, because there was so little interference in ancient times with the natural electrical systems and power systems and they were unblocked, to communicate and hear more freely through the systems of charges and power.

There is a very interesting phenomena going on throughout the entire world, as pertains to all of those power systems and what they call the ley lines. There is connected power throughout all the systems they have discovered and hundreds more that they have not identified yet, that enables the proper user to not only be able to use the lines for communication, but also for travel and for healing, but additionally they can also do all kinds of psychic communication with each other and between themselves if they know how to use these systems. The trick to it is in the identification of the full grid of power and the differences in frequencies within the power lines.

There is a system on top of a system, and then another under each of them, layering down to a depth of 11 that has to be figured out in order to be able to fully understand it all. That is what is happening under Avebury, it overlays to the depth of 11, but only the top three levels have been discovered. The patterns are overlapping it seems, but not actually, they are at different depths. In the proper configuration, there is an ability to move into the core of the earth and pick up the power systems there which are very different and have a different set of structures than the ones they are able to connect to. It is only necessary to utilize the ones to the depth of 11 in order to be able to use the communication system, but there are at least 386 below, to the core of the earth, and then it begins again as it moves to the opposite side of the earth. That is what is happening. Ultimately, that gives you twice that depth and amount of lines, working from the core up.

Still, it is the ability to tap into the top 11 layers that allows humans, and others to be able to communicate beyond your world, and with God. People who have and operate with what you call psychic abilities, are able to tap into the levels of the first 11. That is what allows them to communicate with the vibratory level of seemingly inanimate objects such as rock. That is what makes the earth feel alive, and what provides spurts in growth for many things as well. It is the energy of the top layers that in essence makes the world go round.

The energy of the lower levels connects your planet with the others in the universe, and with other forms in the universe. That is your common bond in the entire world, and what makes all of you one to some great extent. The 11 makes humans, animals and plants one, because it is a common frequency, some frequencies greater used by some than others, but available to all. The tapping of those frequencies allows that.

When you have a person who can move through dimensions and reach others throughout other universes and planets, they are able to momentarily tap into the lower frequencies, though usually only briefly. They take on different forms to do so, and can at times, move between both worlds in essence, but that is rare. Generally, the human form cannot take on the energy level without combusting. It is too much to endure. However, in the few times that it is possible, they are in control of internal mechanisms that are beyond your comprehension.


Yes, but they will have to bring the questions in such a form that you will be comfortable not having to understand the answers first, at this level of your development. Otherwise you may interpret and not give them the true answers they are seeking. It may become distorted.


What a question to ask. Are you either? These questions are important to more than they, so they are appropriately asked by all. The questions you ask now may be interpreted best by scientists though, to understand Avebury.


A giant telephone. The portion that you identified in the center, with the three red stones is the receiver, just like picking up the telephone receiver. The giant stones in the open field that are catecorner to one another are the transmitters, and they operate at an entirely different frequency than any of the others because of the placement on the lines beneath and the shape and placement of the stones. They are the transmitters of both psychic thought and internal conversation.

The lane of rocks that comes from the bottom of the hill and shoots up to the top of the hill is without too much fanfare, a conduction source, that is best activated by lightning, but it can be activated by other energy sources, included the vocal intonations of human beings.

If a single person, or actually it would take four people to run the machine, wanted to communicate, they would have to be assisted by an energy source. Lightning would be preferable, but fire, in its proper source and configuration, with the use of some of the stones that vibrate at a similar, and at higher levels could be used to ignite the communication system, for lack of a better term. The placement of the people makes this minimal system of four, extremely essential.

However, the best way to activate the system, and the way most commonly used at Avebury and at others around the planet, was through vocal tones that activated the rocks, or rather the internal electrical systems of the rocks. The formation and placement of the rocks, and the type of rock, is then able to move together, sort of in unison to be able to create the right set of circumstances to be able to hear and receive messages. All who were able to hear, and who were connected to the 11 lines in the right places were then able to hear and speak. They are always heard, but they could only get confirmation of that when they were able to actually hear responses.

The placement of the communicators was the crucial part of this system, and most of them were not placed in what is commonly considered the places a person would stand to feel the full effect. The most prominent place for a listener was right about in the middle of the road between the red rocks and the flat rocks. The are some rocks missing on the opposite side, near the ditch that are essential for the correct intake of information. You did not see them.

The purpose of the ditches was to cause the 11 layers to bounce back within the grid in order not to move in their natural pattern , which would take them out of the entire system and weaken the transmission/reception ability. That is essential, or the signals would be weakened and too light for most of those people attempting to communicate. The lip on the field around the transmission field helped to catch in essence, the power and the energy necessary to send.


For the times it was. The people knew instinctively that they could communicate, and those who were most connected to God were then able to hear the best and were used as the communicators on the telephone.


In some ways it could, but it would only work for the lower level psychics to some degree, who have not learned to harness the energy for themselves. To a great degree it is not necessary today because of the development of skills.


Not likely, though there was a greater likelihood in ancient times because of the purity of the earth’s power. Some things have evolved in humans now, and some things are less. This would be a case when it would matter.


Yes, that is why they seem to rumble to you. They are the receiver, and the flat rock behind them is one of the those used to bounce back the message in essence. However, it is not the only one that works. It is just the strongest one left because of the loss of some of the others. In their natural arrangement, they all bounce off of each other and create their own strong frequencies even when not being used. That is missing in part because of the missing components.


Sort of, but certainly not quite that simple. Each tonation had to be precise and the songs were quite exact, causing a trigger of sort as you call it, to make the placed rocks vibrate at a different level.


Not much more you will understand. However, the 11 lines are losing some of their potency under the site, but that has much to do with the amount of energy that is not coming in from the different people who visit. They are changing the energy of the site to some degree. It could be cleansed and restored however.


For people who wonder, folks, I could not possibly make this up! I suspect there is some scientist working on this as we speak too, which in my opinion, is why the chasm between spirituality and science needs to stop, and some common ground needs to be taken seriously, routinely. I spoke to Mike’s father who said that they have identified two of the ley lines there, that he knew of at that time. That was 2005 though.

More stuff to think about , huh?

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Can You Live With The Voices In Your Head?

This is a repost from another site. An interesting article on the pervasiveness of auditory hallucinations in modern society and throughout history (very relevant to Jaynes’s theory) that appeared in the NY Times by Daniel Smith.

Can You Live With the Voices in Your Head?

by Daniel B. Smith

Angelo, a London-born scientist in his early 30s with sandy brown hair, round wire-frame glasses and a slight, unobtrusive stammer, vividly recalls the day he began to hear voices. It was Jan. 7, 2001, and he had recently passed his Ph.D. oral exams in chemistry at an American university, where, for the previous four and a half years, he conducted research into infrared electromagnetism. Angelo was walking home from the laboratory when, all of a sudden, he heard two voices in his head. “It was like hearing thoughts in my mind that were not mine,” he explained recently. “They identified themselves as Andrew and Oliver, two angels. In my mind’s eye, I could see an image of a bald, middle-aged man dressed in white against a white background. This, I was told, was Oliver.” What the angels said, to Angelo’s horror, was that in the coming days, he would die of a brain hemorrhage. Terrified, Angelo hurried home and locked himself into his apartment. For three long days he waited out his fate, at which time his supervisor drove him to a local hospital, where Angelo was admitted to the psychiatric ward. It was his first time under psychiatric care. He had never heard voices before. His diagnosis was schizophrenia with depressive overtones.

Angelo remembers his time at the hospital as the deepening of a nightmare. On top of his natural confusion and fear over the shattering of his psychological stability, Angelo did not react well to the antipsychotic he’d been prescribed, risperidone, which is meant to alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia by reducing the level of dopamine in the brain. In Angelo’s case, the pills had a predominantly negative effect. His voices remained strong and disturbing — an unshakable presence, quiet only in sleep — while he grew sluggish and enervated. “If you think of the mind as a flowing river of thoughts,” he told me in an e-mail message, “the drug made my mind feel like a slow-moving river of treacle.” Several days into his stay, Angelo’s parents flew to the United States from London and took him back home.

More than six years later, Angelo still lives at his parents’ house. He currently takes a cocktail of antidepressants and antipsychotics, with tolerable side effects, and sees a psychologist every two months to monitor his medication. The pills help Angelo to manage his voices, but they have not been able to eradicate them. Shortly after his return to London, he made an attempt to resume his career, accepting a research position at the university where he had received his undergraduate degree. He lasted eight months (his neighbors heard him screaming at his voices and called the police), checked himself into the hospital for six weeks and returned home. Despite these setbacks, Angelo has maintained his optimism. He is eager to discover new ways to combat his voices. Not long ago, he found one. In November, his psychologist informed him of a local support group for people who hear voices, from which he thought Angelo might benefit. Angelo began to attend the group late last year.

I first met Angelo at a meeting of the group in mid-January. (I was given permission to sit in on the condition that I not divulge the participants’ last names.) The meeting took place in the bright, cheerfully decorated back room of a community mental-health center in North Finchley, an affluent, grassy suburb in the northern reaches of London. The gathering was small but eclectic. In addition to the group’s facilitators — Jo Kutchinsky, an occupational therapist, and Liana Kaiser, a social-work student — five men and women assembled in a circle of bulky wool-knit chairs around a worn coffee table. Besides Angelo, there was Stewart, a young, working-class Londoner with a shaved head and a hoop earring; Jenny, an affable woman in her 50s who spoke of her fondness for arts and crafts; Michelle, a heavyset woman who dominated the session with her forceful opinions; and David, a 60-something man with a thick gray beard and a pageboy haircut who slumped in his seat and dozed throughout much of the meeting.

Angelo was the newest member of this group — it was his third visit — and he did not seem inclined to participate fully. When Kutchinsky opened the meeting by asking each member to discuss the previous week’s experience hearing voices, he softly mentioned that his voices made it difficult to read, then quickly ceded the floor. What followed was sometimes painful. Stewart in particular was visibly agitated. His hallucinatory life, as he described it, was chaotic and irrepressible. He heard voices pleading to him for help; he heard the voices of strangers; he heard the voice of his father. Sometimes he heard the voices of military commandos, who offered to defend him against this confusion. “I haven’t been well for a long time,” he said glumly. Yet most of the members spoke of their voices in the way that comedians speak of mothers-in-law: burdensome and irritating, but an inescapable part of life that you might as well learn to deal with. When David’s name was called, he lifted his head and discussed his struggle to accept his voices as part of his consciousness. “I’ve learned over time that my voices can’t be rejected,” he said. “No matter what I do, they won’t go away. I have to find a way to live with them.” Jenny discussed how keeping busy quieted her voices; she seemed to have taken a remarkable number of adult-education courses. Michelle expressed her belief that her voices were nothing more exotic than powerfully negative thoughts. “Negative thoughts are universal,” she said. “Everyone has them. Everyone. What matters is how you cope with them: that’s what counts.”

I had trouble gauging Angelo’s reaction throughout these testimonies, so afterward I pulled him aside and asked him what he thought. “It’s interesting to hear people’s stories,” he said. “Before I started coming, I hadn’t realized just how long some people have suffered. I’ve heard voices for six years. Some people have heard them for 15 or 20. It’s amazing.” I asked him if this knowledge reassured or frightened him. “It’s a bit scary, in a way. I think, I could be this way for a long time.” Still, he appeared to appreciate the camaraderie. For years, he had been socially isolated. He spends most of his time with his parents and a sympathetic older sister. His neighbors know only that he is “off work.” It was comforting, he said, to speak at last with people who understood.

The meeting that I attended in London is one of dozens like it affiliated with a small but influential grass-roots organization known as Hearing Voices Network. Based in Manchester, Hearing Voices Network (H.V.N.) has since its inception, in 1991, developed a range of services related to the phenomenon known as auditory hallucination: a hot line for people who suffer from the experience, a series of educational workshops for mental-health professionals and 170 support groups across Britain, with more in development. H.V.N., which openly challenges the standard psychiatric relationship of expert physician and psychotic patient, might be said to take the consumer movement in mental health care to its logical endpoint. Although H.V.N. groups meet in a variety of settings — from psychiatric wards to churches to the organization’s headquarters — all must be run by, or there must be active plans for them to be run by, voice-hearers themselves. What’s more, H.V.N. groups must accept all interpretations of auditory hallucinations as equally valid. If an individual comes to a group claiming that he is hearing the voice of the queen of England, and he finds this belief useful, no attempt is made to divest him of it, but rather to figure out what it means to him.

H.V.N.’s ecumenical approach makes it a difficult organization to pin down. I have met members who believed that their voices were a result of a biochemical glitch, requiring all the tools modern pharmacology has to offer; I have met those who believed their voices were signs from the spirit realm — a cherished gift. Yet the organization’s clearest rhetorical note is oppositional and antipsychiatric.

For more than a half-century, auditory hallucinations have primarily been studied and discussed in terms of severe mental illness, most notably schizophrenia, and linked to bizarre delusions, disordered thought and emotional dissociation. Approximately 75 percent of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia hear voices, and for the majority the experience is overwhelmingly negative. Those voices may issue commands, comment sarcastically on everyday actions or berate, curse and insult the hearer. As many as one-third of people with schizophrenia attempt suicide; as many as one-fifth hear voices that command them to do so. H.V.N. does not dispute that auditory hallucinations are frequently painful: many of the organization’s leading members have endured harrowing voices themselves and, at one time or another, sought psychiatric help.

What H.V.N. does dispute is that the psychological anguish caused by hearing voices is indicative of an overarching mental illness. This argument, disseminated through a quarterly newsletter, numerous pamphlets and speeches and alternative mental-health journals, are as voluminous and diverse as its membership. But H.V.N.’s brief against psychiatry can be boiled down to two core positions. The first is that many more people hear voices, and hear many more kinds of voices, than is usually assumed. The second is that auditory hallucination — or “voice-hearing,” H.V.N.’s more neutral preference — should be thought of not as a pathological phenomenon in need of eradication but as a meaningful, interpretable experience, intimately linked to a hearer’s life story and, more commonly than not, to unresolved personal traumas. In 2005, Louise Pembroke, a prominent member of H.V.N., proposed a World Hearing Voices Day (held the next year) that would “challenge negative attitudes toward people who hear voices on the incorrect assumption that this is in itself a sign of illness, an assumption made about them that is not based on their own experiences, is stigmatizing, isolating and makes people ill.”

H.V.N.’s insistence that it is not just the psychotic who hear voices does not, in fact, contradict psychiatric orthodoxy. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the so-called bible of psychiatry, auditory hallucinations are only a potential symptom of mental illness — they must appear with other symptoms, persist for a specified length of time and impede day-to-day functioning in order to become part of a diagnosable syndrome. In a 2001 debate on whether voices are by definition pathological, Tony David, a neuropsychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, noted that a “voice-hearer who is not in any distress, who lives a fruitful and productive life according to commonsense criteria, would never enter the arena in which the possibility of mental illness was up for discussion.” Nor does psychiatry insist that the syndrome in question when a voice-hearer is in distress is invariably schizophrenia. Approximately 20 percent of patients suffering from mania and 10 percent of patients suffering from depression hear voices. Auditory hallucinations can also be caused by “organic” conditions, like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, temporal-lobe epilepsy, hyperthyroidism and migraine headaches, and have long been known to occur in the twilight consciousness between wakefulness and sleep.

That said, H.V.N.’s insistence that voice-hearers should attend carefully to what their hallucinations say is far from traditional. Prolonged exposure to untreated psychosis is held by many experts to be damaging to an individual’s ability to hold down a job or to maintain a meaningful relationship and by others to be damaging to brain function — what clinicians refer to as “psychosocial toxicity” and “neurotoxicity,” respectively. And though psychiatrists acknowledge that almost anyone is capable of hallucinating a voice under certain circumstances, they maintain that the hallucinations that occur with psychoses are qualitatively different. “One shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the content of hallucinations,” says Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of the psychiatry department at Columbia University. “When establishing a correct diagnosis, it’s important to focus on the signs or symptoms” of a particular disorder. That is, it’s crucial to determine how the voices manifest themselves. Voices that speak in the third person, echo a patient’s thoughts or provide a running commentary on his actions are considered classically indicative of schizophrenia.

Interpreting voices in relation to a patient’s past has a checkered history in the treatment of psychosis. Though Freud discouraged the application of psychoanalysis to psychotic patients, it nonetheless became, for 25 years after World War II, a widespread treatment for schizophrenia in the English-speaking world. This episode in psychiatry is now widely acknowledged to have been a medical and moral disaster; crippling psychoses were routinely blamed on insufficiently nurturing and “schizophrenogenic” mothers. “The psychoanalytic approach to psychosis was toxic,” says Peter Weiden, a professor of psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. “Clinicians of that time were often highly antagonistic toward family members. They blamed the parents, left them out of the treatment process and isolated the patient from his family.” Over the past 30 years, the biomedical model displaced the psychoanalytic one, bolstered by advances in pharmacology, modern genetic and neurological research and the completion of large-scale empirical studies that concluded that psychoanalysis was useless at best and actively destructive at worst. Today, medication is typically prescribed to extinguish, or at least mitigate, voices (about 80 percent of patients experience a reduction in voices, Weiden says, from medication alone, though this does not always translate into an equal improvement in day-to-day functioning); psychotherapy is usually admitted as an adjunct, to deal with issues of social functioning and stigma.

There are signs, however, that psychotherapy is again encroaching on the biomedical paradigm in the treatment of psychoses. Since the 1990s, a growing number of researchers and clinicians, predominantly based in England, have been comparing voice-hearing in psychotic patients with voice-hearing in nonpatients, measuring the incidence of hallucinations in the general population, and using cognitive behavioral therapy (C.B.T.), a popular, short-term treatment for depression and anxiety, to help them manage their responses to the voices they continue to hear. C.B.T. typically asks patients to scrutinize how they interpret their symptoms rather than focusing on an illness as an underlying cause. “The matter of whether it’s effective, and to what extent,” Lieberman says, is still being investigated. So far, the use of C.B.T. in the treatment of psychoses is much more prevalent in the U.K. than in the U.S. In large part, Lieberman says, this is because “the motivation to research the treatment has mostly come from investigators in England.” But, he added, “you could also read into the situation the influence of a strong antipsychiatry or antimedication movement in England — there’s more of an interest in getting nonmedication treatments into clinical use.”

In England, this new cognitive approach to psychosis and the efforts of Hearing Voices Network are independent of each other, and are sometimes at odds. H.V.N.’s leading members, for instance, frequently criticize even sympathetic academic researchers for being insufficiently political. Yet both approaches share a similar purpose in seeking to place voice-hearing within the continuum of normal human experience — one, in order to better treat patients, the other, out of a firm conviction that hearing voices need not interfere with leading an otherwise “normal” life. Over the years, they have forged something of an alliance; psychologists, though they may not embrace H.V.N.’s more polemical views, frequently refer their patients to H.V.N. groups, while H.V.N. frequently cites the research of psychologists. And both H.V.N. and the cognitive approach to psychosis can be traced, to varying degrees, to the same radical figure.

When H.V.N. is accused of being hostile to psychiatry, its members sometimes point out that the organization was, in effect, founded by a psychiatrist — albeit a singularly unorthodox one. In 1986, Marius Romme, a professor of psychiatry at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, was referred a patient, Patsy Hage, who suffered from chronic auditory hallucinations and fell into a deep, suicidal depression. Hage took comfort only from reading “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,” an eccentric book, published in 1976, by Julian Jaynes, a Princeton psychologist, in which he argues that before around 2,000 B.C., all humans were guided by hallucinated verbal commands caused by a physical split between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Romme wondered whether Hage might benefit from communicating this theory with other voice-hearers and arranged to appear with his patient on a popular Dutch television program. They invited people who heard voices to contact them: 450 people called in, one-third of whom claimed they were able to live alongside their voices without much difficulty. It struck Romme that this smaller group, the existence of which surprised him, might serve as a therapeutic resource. He asked 20 men and women who had learned to manage their voices to serve as speakers at a conference for voice-hearers. The governing principle of the meeting was that all interpretations of voice-hearing, no matter how unusual, would be accepted.

Today, H.V.N.’s members speak of that first conference as the birthplace of their organization — and, indeed, of a worldwide Hearing Voices movement. There are currently self-help organizations for people who hear voices in more than 15 countries, including Germany, Japan and Australia. (The group has only recently begun to make inroads in the U.S.) Meanwhile, Romme has emerged as a spirited leader-activist, increasingly speaking of psychiatry in terms of cultural and personal oppression. People who hear voices, he has declared, “are like homosexuals in the 1950s — in need of liberation, not cure.” H.V.N. often echoes this protesting stance. Its annual conferences, held in Manchester, project an antiestablishment tenor. Ron Coleman, a prominent member, sports a tattoo that reads “Psychotic and Proud” and looks forward to a day when he can “walk the streets talking to his voices and not be denied his freedom.”

In its publicly disseminated material, however, H.V.N. tends to focus less on Romme’s rhetoric than on his research. In an article published with a group of colleagues in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in 1998, Romme reported on the hallucinations of three groups: patients with schizophrenia, patients with dissociative disorder and nonpatients. All three groups heard a mixture of positive and negative voices (though the patients heard more negative voices than nonpatients), reported traumatic experiences in their past and heard both external and internal voices. What for Romme distinguished the voices of the patients most from those of the nonpatients was that the latter felt that they had control over their voices; they rarely sought to eradicate or ignore them and devised ways of coping with and understanding them. “Helping the patient to accept the voices and actively developing effective coping strategies with the patient,” Romme had noted earlier, “may well prove an effective adjunct to psychiatric rehabilitation.”

The concept of “coping” is central to H.V.N., based on its belief that people feel better not when their voices are extinguished but when the person hearing voices learns to listen to his hallucinations without anguish. Jacqui Dillon, the national chairwoman of H.V.N., embraces this credo based on personal experience. Dillon, a mother of two, has heard voices for more than 30 years and has never taken medication for them. Mostly, she says, her voices are supportive and even witty, though occasionally they are cruel — they swear and tell her to harm herself. But she no longer heeds their commands or allows them to bother her. Instead, she takes them as symbols of her unconscious thoughts. “Sometimes voices carry messages that you don’t want to hear,” she told me. “Nevertheless, you don’t shoot the messenger. You listen to him.”

When Romme’s gospel of hallucinatory “acceptance” emerged in the early 1990s, it sparked a notably sharp rebuke in the mainstream British Medical Journal. Reviewing “Accepting Voices” (1993) — a hodgepodge of research findings, coping strategies and firsthand testimonies edited by Romme and his wife and colleague, Sandra Escher — Raymond Cochrane, a professor of psychology at the University of Birmingham, wrote, “Anything that may encourage people to accept the reality of delusional beliefs, and even attribute to these beliefs some mystical supernatural power, can only prolong the existence of these beliefs and make recovery from schizophrenia more protracted and more uncertain.”

But Romme’s work influenced a number of researchers and clinicians, even those not inclined to agitate for the liberation of voice-hearers. “By the late 1980s, hearing voices had become such a stigmatized experience, people had forgotten that it is not just the insane who hear voices,” says Douglas Turkington, a psychiatrist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle. “The standard line was: ‘Don’t talk to patients about the experience. It’ll only make it worse.’ ” Romme’s report that there existed numerous people living in the community who heard voices and were not distressed, Turkington says, provided ballast for a psychotherapeutic approach to schizophrenia that he and a colleague, David Kingdon, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Southampton, had already embarked on. Adapting the techniques of cognitive behavior therapy, they started in the late 1980s to lead patients, through Socratic-style questioning, toward an understanding of their hallucinations as coming from their own minds. The therapy included mitigating patients’ fears of madness by pointing out that even “normal” people can hear voices. Turkington and Kingdon’s efforts are now widely credited with helping to reopen the door to psychotherapeutic approaches to psychotic symptoms.

Richard Bentall, a professor of psychology at the University of Manchester, embraced not only the clinical implications of Romme’s research but also some of his political activism. Over the past 15 years, Bentall has garnered a reputation as an opponent of traditional psychiatric diagnostics and as an enthusiastic supporter of consumer-based therapies. In the early 1990s, as a professor at the University of Liverpool, Bentall supported the first H.V.N. group in that city, and last August he joined Romme and H.V.N. at a news conference held to announce the Campaign for the Abolition of the Schizophrenia Label, which they billed as “the last great civil rights movement.”

For Bentall, schizophrenia is the diagnostic equivalent of a circus tent, sheltering a heterogeneous crowd of experiences and serving to stigmatize patients. Clinicians, he maintains, should be treating individual symptoms, not syndromes. He is not merely indulging in the kind of rhetoric favored by the antipsychiatrists of the 1960s and 1970s, with whom he is sometimes compared. Questioning the validity of schizophrenia as a label is not new — even the architects of the DSM acknowledge that it is useful only insofar as it guides research and treatment. And while Bentall’s argument that specific psychotic symptoms should be studied in relation to the psychological mechanisms that give rise to them places him outside the mainstream, he publishes frequently in leading peer-reviewed journals and is often cited by psychologists (who are more inclined than their psychiatric counterparts to place auditory hallucinations on a continuum of everyday experience). He has also received support from the British government for his clinical work, most recently a $2.9 million grant from the U.K. Medical Research Council to investigate whether C.B.T. can prevent people who exhibit early signs of psychosis from developing a full-blown disorder.

In his 2003 book, “Madness Explained,” Bentall draws on the theory that auditory hallucinations may have their roots in what psychologists call “inner speech.” All of us, every day, produce a steady stream of silent, inward-directed speech: plans, thoughts, quotations, memories. People hear voices, Bentall argues, when they make faulty judgments about whether this inner speech is the product of their own consciousness or of something alien to their consciousness. Lapses in what researchers call “source monitoring” may occur for a number of reasons — because an individual is primed to expect a perception to occur, because the level of background noise makes it difficult to separate what is internal from what is external, because he or she is in a state of emotional arousal. But whatever the cause, Bentall writes, there is evidence to suggest that hallucinating “can be explained in terms of the same kinds of mental processes that affect normal perceptual judgments.”

This theory raises the critical question of why making source-monitoring errors results in psychosis: why, when people mistake their private speech for someone else’s, does it cause them to grow so distressed that they seek professional help? The answer Bentall gives echoes Romme’s observation that a fundamental difference between voice-hearers in the community and voice-hearers under psychiatric care is that the latter think negatively about their experience. According to Bentall, how patients perceive auditory hallucinations can have a significant impact on how those hallucinations are experienced. Bentall cites a landmark 1994 study by Max Birchwood, at the University of Birmingham, and Paul Chadwick, of the Royal South Hants Hospital in Southampton, to support this view. Published in The British Journal of Psychiatry, it proposes that the anguish experienced by patients who hear voices is directly related to their beliefs in the malevolence and power of the voices. A more recent study, published in 2004 and led by Anthony Morrison, a colleague of Bentall’s at the University of Manchester, also found that negative beliefs about voices are associated with an increase in the distress of the experience, and often these negative beliefs are reinforced by both mental-health services and the media.

According to Louise Johns, a psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, cognitive models of psychosis have had a significant impact on mental-health practice in Britain. Few psychologists trumpet C.B.T. as a panacea; it is considered an adjunct to, not a replacement for, standard medical intervention, most frequently in cases where patients do not respond well to medication or are chronically ill. Since the early 1990s, more than 20 randomized clinical trials have been conducted with C.B.T. for psychosis, showing that C.B.T. can be useful in helping patients cope with psychotic symptoms, increasing insight into psychosis and promoting compliance with medication. Based on the findings of these studies, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence — the advisory body of the British National Health Service — in 2002 announced that all “individuals with schizophrenia who are experiencing persistent psychotic symptoms should be offered C.B.T.”

Members of H.V.N. express a wary appreciation of these developments. Many are glad that the mental-health professions are taking a psychological approach to psychosis seriously (their literature even notes the increasing availability of cognitive behavioral therapy), but they worry that the organization’s more radical, populist message is being obscured. As always, said Jacqui Dillon, the chairwoman of Hearing Voices Network, the mainstream is attending to what scientists have to say about how to treat voice-hearing rather than what nonscientists like her have to say about how to accept the phenomenon.

It was just before noon on a mild Friday in January when the North Finchley hearing-voices group reconvened after a 15-minute coffee break. A sixth participant had joined the group: Chris, light-haired, overweight and audibly short of breath, who has been a member for four years. He seemed completely at ease.
Earlier in the day, Kutchinsky and Kaiser printed out a list of coping strategies that another group’s members had found useful, cutting each description into thin rectangles, which they now spread across the table, facedown. The participants were asked to choose one and discuss. Angelo picked first: “Hobbies.” He cleared his throat, and in a gentle, measured voice, began: “Collecting, day or evening classes, visiting a library, computer skills, reading and sport. All these activities are not only fun and relaxing; they can fill voids in our lives and help to occupy us during the day or evening. They can improve concentration and reduce isolation. They can also boost our morale and confidence and give us a feel-good factor.” Finished, Angelo lifted his head from the paper and looked around.

“Well, do you have any hobbies, Angelo?” Kutchinsky asked.

“I like to play chess,” he said. “And, as I’ve said, I like to read. But it’s difficult. I can really only handle something light or humorous. Like Dave Barry.”

“I see. Does reading help to block the voices at all?”

Angelo’s eyes seemed to darken. “No. I’m afraid nothing at all blocks the voices. Even if I play music really loud, it doesn’t help at all.”

The coping strategies that followed were within the same vein as the first — commonsensical lifestyle suggestions geared toward improving one’s frame of mind, or sanding down the edges of the experience’s effects. Liana chose “Exercise”; Jenny chose “Religious Activities”; David chose “Pamper Yourself” (”Put nice music on in the next room, put some scented candles around the room. You could even have a bath with your partner!”). The most novel strategy, and the only one that seemed to cause the group’s members to perk up, came under the heading of “Mobile Phones.” If you have the temptation to yell at your voices in public, one suggestion went, you should do so with a phone to your ear. That way you can feel free to let loose, and no one who sees you will think you’re crazy. Chris in particular seemed to cozy to the suggestion. “I sometimes talk to my voices in public,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s very upsetting. I have to bite my knuckles to suppress the urge.”

Participants in H.V.N.’s self-help groups take comfort from strategies like these not least because they approach voices as you would approach any other painful but normal experience, like anxiety or stress. Many of the members of the North Finchley group, however, pursue pharmaceutical treatment in addition to coping strategies: they talk at the same time that they are on pills. Indeed, as Kutchinsky told me, they sometimes talk about their pills. They talk about the best dosage and about how to deal with the anxiety and sluggishness and impotence that pills sometimes cause. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this combination. It might even be ideal: who better to talk to about medication than people who are actually on it? And if you were struggling from an experience as complicated as hearing voices, why wouldn’t you use every means at your disposal to deal with it?

As for Angelo, his concern is not to choose one option over another — but only to recover. “I have found the group interesting,” Angelo wrote via e-mail three weeks after we met. “It has made me realize that many voice-hearers have had the problem for many years, and that many never stop hearing the voices, though some are successful in that regard. One lady has recently quit the group as she no longer hears voices. I also see that some hearers are quite high-functioning and are able to hold down a job despite the voices. I hope to do this myself. Perhaps the right combination of drugs will make this possible.”

Daniel B. Smith is the author of “Muses, Madmen and Prophets: Rethinking the History, Science and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination,” just published by the Penguin Press and from which this article is in part adapted.
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Being Spiritually Courageous

Original post - Oct. 26, 2007

Being Spiritually Courageous

I’ve had an interesting week as seems to be the case when a new lesson is introduced by God.

I join a lot of groups because I am confronted with so many clients with truly difficult issues in their lives, so I try and listen to everyone’s point of view. Being a part of varied groups allows me to check the posts each morning and know if some new thread presents an issue I’ve never heard of or a new perspective on something I have dealt with before. Most of my readings are by e-mail and I never see the person, so I’m comfortable with reading people’s communications.

Because of that, I got a friend request from a person in one of the Atheist groups that I belong to, a “free thought” group. I was going to accept, but when I went to his page, he is a huge supported of a person who is a rabid anti-paranormal/mystic/beyond material understanding person, famous for his attacks on anyone who believes or claims knowledge of a world I live every day. So I communicated to this person that I had a problem with that man because his lack of tolerance for what he does not know, hurts people. This can be hard enough to navigate without attacks.

The person’s response was caustic, attacking, and insulting and said something like “quick, tell me ten personal things right now or shut up, which you can’t”! I was trying to think of an even handed response, which took about 30 mins., and after writing what I would do in response to his attack, I sent it only to have it not go anywhere because he had blocked me. Clearly, he didn’t want an answer.

Well I wanted to see what the lesson was in this case, so I found the common group and posted a challenge that there is another way, other than exclusive religious dogma on one end, and a total void of a spiritual being or world on the other end. There is middle ground. So after really, really checking to be sure I was not in a ego state, I suggested that I do 5 readings for five people in the group, they discuss the validity between themselves if they feel they can be open minded and honest, and if they found 75% accuracy, that we approach a discussion differently, starting with the concepts in my book.

Thus far, I have been called names, been responded to with ludicrous, childish nonsense, but still no takers. Not one person said they would try it, or even had a civil reaction to it, which surprised me, because free thought is supposed to be part of their religion, (and it looks the same to me) I thought.

When God is teaching us something new, I’ve noticed that it comes in threes for me. So as I was trying to process the information, I got a call from another Atheist, about something unrelated that I initiated contact with him a week or so ago. The conversation went well at first, and he knew who I was because he knew my age from this site, but then he didn’t seem to know that I was clairaudient, or even what that meant. Well all of that is hard to understand because this page begins with “I hear dead people”, right above my age. Hard to miss. So I know I’m in chapter three of this lesson. The conversation went terribly down hill, and when I said that once again I would do a reading for him, which he liked as an idea in the beginning, but after suggesting that I put myself in a situation to be attacked, which I refused to do unless we started with the reading, he hung up on me, wrote me a note about taking my meds, and that was it.

Interesting how these lessons come, and why I had to get it with Atheists this week is fascinating. Now I’m sure that there are Atheists who can actually have a conversation without being rude, insulting or attacking, so the lesson isn’t about Atheists. I suspect the lesson came through them so that I could be clear that spiritual closedmindedness is an equal opportunity oppressor. But what the lesson does seem to be about is spiritual courage. These particular people seem to be too afraid to let in the possibility that there may actually be some validity to this system of energetic action, communication with continued spirits, that they don’t understand. So afraid, that they will attack rather than ever listen or attempt to hear or understand. Spiritual courage seems to be having the conviction to openly examine your own belief system, and let it stand on its own, or more importantly, listening to other thoughts and having the courage to adjust what you believe if something new comes along that makes more sense to you, after open examination. That’s the trick.

I don’t think spiritual courage has to do with being anchored to God, because we are all anchored to God whether we think we are or not. We are not powerful enough to disembark, no matter how far afield our actions seem from God, and no matter what we think we are doing in our little pea brained attempts to be independent. We are still under It/Her/His observation and connection. I’ve had the same thing happen with a few Christians and Muslims who are so attached to what they believe that they literally could not hear another person’s opinion or experience. That is why the world is a mess right now. People being used by those who know this dynamic, and people who cannot hear anything other than what they believe or know. Makes a person really easy to control, one way or another.

So what creates fear so great, that we can’t, no refuse to take in any new information like this, when it happens? What would be lost if we just listened to something we don’t know, and in my case in these situations, actually took a step to see? Actually listened and not just listened long enough to get our point in or attack. Think of the changes that would happen in the world if that happened. Think of the growth! Think of how much information gets in when we approach the world as if we can actually learn from others, which is frankly, part of our collective lesson. To be spiritually courageous so we can learn individually, and learn collectively. I think that is part of why mystics have so many different skills and no one of us has all the skills. We are not meant to. We are like everyone else, supposed to work together to make the one big picture work. Additonally, with too much at once, we might lose sight of why we have them and get big headed. We have them, I’ve been told, to be an available source for those who cannot hear yet. But if we continue to evolve as human spirits, everyone will eventually. That is why more people have it now, than did 300 years ago. We are changing, though apparently that is after losing some of what we had a couple of centuries ago, because we have succumbed to limited spiritual thinking and input.

So I’d like opinions. How does a person let go of fear and judgment enough to actually hear something that is uncomfortable for them? Do you think it has to start with their spiritual state; or mental; or emotional or just plain IQ. I’ve read that IQ may well be a test of how fast a person can take in information, process it and be ready for new information. That makes sense to me, because I have seen some very smart people who don’t test high on IQ. When I look at them closely, they are usually very stubborn, and refuse to let go of the way they see things in order to let in new concepts. In other words, they are brilliant in one thing, but can’t move quickly to another. I believe there is a spiritual IQ that works like that. The higher it is, the more open minded a person is and can hear other views, the lower, the more unaccepting. Has nothing to do with brain power.

So what do you think? What blocks spiritual communication between otherwise intelligent people, and how do we bridge that when the information is uncomfortable?

I’d love to hear from you.