A Poem on Hearing Voices by Chris

My friend Ying, was at a poetry evening, and one of the guys read an amazing poem on hearing voices. She kindly asked Chris, if we could share it here and he agreed. So here it is. Hope you find it as powerful as I did.


Having mental illness in family can be hard but the rewards for over coming them are so much greater then overcoming simpler things.
When i was 17 i had my first psychotic episode, and since then iv’e been diagnosed with psychosis, schizophrenia, bi-polar and depression, i hear voices, i have hallucinations and I have delusions
ahh Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me

These days it starts with a gaze into the outer world, a blank stare into realms I’m not quite sure exist,
I can be staring at anything, such as, the alien species that hides trees
their limbs and their faces moved by the wind in such a way that they come to life
their waving hands simply stating “I see you, and I know you see me”
or I could be watching how the curtains breath at the pace of mother earths breath slowly hypnotizing me into a trance where I start to believe god himself has the curtains on strings or maybe
I’ll just be staring at the boring ground, where spiritual life reaps like you wouldn’t believe
as i walk with my head down i flow through a river of damned and tortured faces
lost souls trying to find peace and banished spirits trapped in purgatory trying to claw their way into me until
“Hey chris, got a spare smoke?”
“uh, uh yeah bro, help yourself”
Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me

The voices that i hear aren’t as bad as the media will have you believe, but theyre pretty bad.
Imagine having no privacy because the people sitting next to me can read your mind
They don’t tell you your thoughts to your face tho, they tell you outside and down the road a little bit.
Imagine having no secretes because i feel like I’m under constant inspection, I’m to scared to even think a bad thought because something listening
Imagine trying to go to sleep and somewhere outside, you can hear people talking about you..there’s
whispers in the wind and vocal cords seemingly attached to passing cars
ambient noises vocalized into the voice of fear,
rustling trees like gossiping woman
and people in the distance speaking my thoughts
and then i hear about people who say that they can hear gods voice, or that they heard demons or angels telling them things…
Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me

The problem with mental illness is that the people who know most about it aren’t the doctors who’ve spent a life in school
it’s not your psychiatrist or the leading team of psychologists..
It’s the people, that are living with them, its the people, who hear voices, it’s the people who believe theyre being followed and that their lives are at stake,
It’s the people who at this very moment are suffering from diseases that should of be labeled gifts a long time ago its those people…
it’s those people that hold the answers, not someone who’s lived a straight edge life and only knows what the text book says cuz no matter how smart you are
and no matter how much you have studied, until you lose your mind and believe that you’re Jesus, you only know half the story
Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me.

ONLY Son- winner of the 2010 V48hrs Film festival

This NZ short film was made in the V48 48hr film festival and won  in 2010. It is billed as a ghost story, but could also be billed as a “hearing voices” story.
It is humourous and also a little bit rude , so please be forewarned to not to watch it if that type of content offends.
Sometimes it helps to laugh.
It can be viewed on youtube here
Or also on the NZ herald website here

Did Van Gogh Hear Voices?

Some say that the reason that Van Gogh cut off his ear was because he was hearing voices. I guess we will never know. However many voice hearers are extremely sensitive and creative people.

Here is a quote I read, written by him, which I think is very apt.

“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh “

CRAZY ART- an excerpt from an interview about a new doco on Mental illness and art

I wanted to include an excerpt from this interview, as it helps people to understand those that hear voices better. I dont know when this will ever play in New Zealand, but hope it will one day.

You see see the whole interview witn J.T Turner from “Phoenix”  Santa Barbara on the NOOZHAWK website here

“Frustrated by state budget cuts to mental health funding, J.T. Turner, executive director of Phoenix of Santa Barbara, decided to become “more entrepreneurial” in his efforts to further the understanding of people diagnosed with mental illness by producing a film. Leslie Dinaberg sits down with the executive producer of the new documentary Crazy Art, which explores the link between art and schizophrenia by looking at the lives and work of three local artists, as well as that of Vincent Van Gogh

J.T. Turner: This movie is really a portrait of these three artists here in town who I know with schizophrenia and how they use art to help them recover. I’ve known them for about seven or eight years. One of them was a client of ours at Phoenix of Santa Barbara, in one of our residential programs, and that’s Rodger Casier. The other two — Lesley Grogan and Trinaty Lopez Wakefield — have had their work in the annual Mental Health Arts Festival in De La Guerra Plaza, so I came to know them from them exhibiting their work there.

I was totally impressed by the quality of the art, and as I came to talk to them, I realized these are amazing personalities. These are three very articulate people with very charismatic qualities who do amazing art. … Things just came together about a year ago, and I thought now is the time to do this…

We started shooting, and the idea was to focus on the art with these individuals and also focus on their story. How did they become artists? The interesting thing is that the movie is intentionally about identity. … Do they see themselves as primarily mentally ill or something else? Do they see themselves as an artist? … Identity is a really big issue in terms of recovery. So we ask them about that, ask them about their childhood, ask them when they were first diagnosed, in terms of how the art helped them along the way. It’s a real blend of their lives and their art.

LD: So it premieres at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival?

JT: The first screening in the film festival will be in Victoria Hall on Monday at 10 a.m. We’re calling that the sneak peak. And the premiere is the show at the Lobero Theatre, which is 5 p.m. Wednesday. We’ll have a panel after both…

…JT: And it’s pretty hard-edged in terms of it doesn’t try in any way to be a Pollyannaish version of psychiatric recovery. We wanted to find out whether art is helpful, and maybe it’s not. And we pull in Van Gogh. … Near the beginning there’s a little segment that we shot down at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena where we filmed Van Gogh’s “Mulberry Tree,” and we have a section at the end at The Getty where we’re filming Van Gogh’s “Irises,” and it’s pretty clear from his life that when he was painting his best stuff he was having the greatest struggles psychiatrically.

He was diagnosed, and the various symptoms he had weren’t termed bipolar disorder or manic depression in those days, but it looks very much like he would be diagnosed now with bipolar disorder — he had seizures and things, so it was complex. Plus he was eating his pain and drinking a lot of alcohol. It’s not a clear picture of what was going on, but he was in a psychiatric unit for a year, and while he was there he painted some of his most amazing stuff.

One thing we were interested in was how much of the art that these three local artists do is done in a pretty symptomatic state, and how that feeds into the quality of the art. If you say that Van Gogh’s art goes up in price correlated with how symptomatic he was, can we look at the local artists and say what happens when you’re doing fine or when you’re doing really well? Are you painting as much? Are you expressing or hearing voices or having hallucinations? Are you painting more intense stuff when you’re really symptomatic? It’s not just looking at recovery; it’s looking at how symptoms affect the art and maybe — and in Van Gogh’s case this was the sad aspect of it — he became so symptomatic that he was painting obsessively and driving himself more crazy. He wasn’t in recovery using his art. If he’d had a case manager, it would have been great for him.

LD: Does it also make you understand a little more clearly some of the issues people may have with noncompliance — not taking their medication — because obviously there is something exciting and fun and rewarding about being in that highly creative state, even if you can’t function outside of that in your day-to-day life.

JT: Yeah. There are some people who are manic depressed, bipolar, who will tweak their meds so they move from being in a depressed state, or a kind of stable state, to a manic state. Deciding if you want some drama or excitement, ease off on your lithium and start to get more energy and sleeping less, or maybe not sleeping at all — and wow, life is really happening.

LD: It’s interesting.

JT: Trinaty, in the movie, one of the things she says is, “If I paint too much I go crazy. If I don’t paint at all I go crazy. I’ve got to find some kind of place in the middle there.”

None of them says art cures them. None of them says art is the ultimate remedy. It’s not a magic wand. They are all on medication. The medication gets rid of maybe 80 percent of the psychiatric symptoms, and then you’ve got the remaining 20 percent that are still pretty horrific. Each of them complains about hearing voices that are really critical, and they have paranoid thoughts and suicidal thoughts and are really depressed. The art is working to diminish those symptoms.

I think one of the primary findings of the movie is that art functions like meditation. They get into the zone, they do the art, and as they are doing it there is simply no space for the voices. … There are various things that you can do to kind of get into the zone, where you are no longer worrying about your everyday issues — for the normal person — but for the psychiatric issues, it’s interesting that as they paint and do sculpture, those symptoms are sort of driven out. It’s almost like deep space for the psychiatric symptoms, because what’s there is this intense focus on the art. They are channeling some muse, and there’s no room for depression, no room for paranoia in that place. It’s really impressive.

LD: I can’t wait to see it. It sounds really interesting…

To see the whole article click on the link to Noozhawk above- there is also a great picture with the artcle.

Carl Jungs “RED BOOK” soon to be published

There is a fascinating article  here in the New York Times.  It talks about a famous”THE RED BOOK” written by Carl Jung, that has been held in storage by his family and never been published is soon to be released.

 Here are interesting tidbits from the 10 page article:


” What happened next to Carl Jung has become, among Jungians and other scholars, the topic of enduring legend and controversy. It has been characterized variously as a creative illness, a descent into the underworld, a bout with insanity, a narcissistic self-deification, a transcendence, a midlife breakdown and an inner disturbance mirroring the upheaval of World War I. Whatever the case, in 1913, Jung, who was then 38, got lost in the soup of his own psyche. He was haunted by troubling visions and heard inner voices. Grappling with the horror of some of what he saw, he worried in moments that he was, in his own words, “menaced by a psychosis” or “doing a schizophrenia.”He later would compare this period of his life — this “confrontation with the unconscious,” as he called it — to a mescaline experiment. He described his visions as coming in an “incessant stream.” He likened them to rocks falling on his head, to thunderstorms, to molten lava. “I often had to cling to the table,” he recalled, “so as not to fall apart.”

Had he been a psychiatric patient, Jung might well have been told he had a nervous disorder and encouraged to ignore the circus going on in his head. But as a psychiatrist, and one with a decidedly maverick streak, he tried instead to tear down the wall between his rational self and his psyche. For about six years, Jung worked to prevent his conscious mind from blocking out what his unconscious mind wanted to show him. Between appointments with patients, after dinner with his wife and children, whenever there was a spare hour or two, Jung sat in a book-lined office on the second floor of his home and actually induced hallucinations — what he called “active imaginations.” “In order to grasp the fantasies which were stirring in me ‘underground,’ ” Jung wrote later in his book “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” “I knew that I had to let myself plummet down into them.” He found himself in a liminal place, as full of creative abundance as it was of potential ruin, believing it to be the same borderlands traveled by both lunatics and great artists.

Jung recorded it all. First taking notes in a series of small, black journals, he then expounded upon and analyzed his fantasies, writing in a regal, prophetic tone in the big red-leather book. The book detailed an unabashedly psychedelic voyage through his own mind, a vaguely Homeric progression of encounters with strange people taking place in a curious, shifting dreamscape. Writing in German, he filled 205 oversize pages with elaborate calligraphy and with richly hued, staggeringly detailed paintings.

What he wrote did not belong to his previous canon of dispassionate, academic essays on psychiatry. Nor was it a straightforward diary. It did not mention his wife, or his children, or his colleagues, nor for that matter did it use any psychiatric language at all. Instead, the book was a kind of phantasmagoric morality play, driven by Jung’s own wish not just to chart a course out of the mangrove swamp of his inner world but also to take some of its riches with him. It was this last part — the idea that a person might move beneficially between the poles of the rational and irrational, the light and the dark, the conscious and the unconscious — that provided the germ for his later work and for what analytical psychology would become.

The book tells the story of Jung trying to face down his own demons as they emerged from the shadows. The results are humiliating, sometimes unsavory. In it, Jung travels the land of the dead, falls in love with a woman he later realizes is his sister, gets squeezed by a giant serpent and, in one terrifying moment, eats the liver of a little child. (“I swallow with desperate efforts — it is impossible — once again and once again — I almost faint — it is done.”) At one point, even the devil criticizes Jung as hateful.

He worked on his red book — and he called it just that, the Red Book — on and off for about 16 years, long after his personal crisis had passed, but he never managed to finish it. He actively fretted over it, wondering whether to have it published and face ridicule from his scientifically oriented peers or to put it in a drawer and forget it. Regarding the significance of what the book contained, however, Jung was unequivocal. “All my works, all my creative activity,” he would recall later, “has come from those initial fantasies and dreams.”

Jung evidently kept the Red Book locked in a cupboard in his house in the Zurich suburb of Küsnacht. When he died in 1961, he left no specific instructions about what to do with it. His son, Franz, an architect and the third of Jung’s five children, took over running the house and chose to leave the book, with its strange musings and elaborate paintings, where it was. Later, in 1984, the family transferred it to the bank, where since then it has fulminated as both an asset and a liability…

…Carl Jung’s secret Red Book — scanned, translated and footnoted — will be in stores early next month, published by W. W. Norton and billed as the “most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.”  

“It is the nuclear reactor for all his works,” Shamdasani said, noting that Jung’s more well-known concepts — including his belief that humanity shares a pool of ancient wisdom that he called the collective unconscious and the thought that personalities have both male and female components (animus and anima) — have their roots in the Red Book. Creating the book also led Jung to reformulate how he worked with clients, as evidenced by an entry Shamdasani found in a self-published book written by a former client, in which she recalls Jung’s advice for processing what went on in the deeper and sometimes frightening parts of her mind.

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

…lastly on page 10

ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH the Red Book — after he has traversed a desert, scrambled up mountains, carried God on his back, committed murder, visited hell; and after he has had long and inconclusive talks with his guru, Philemon, a man with bullhorns and a long beard who flaps around on kingfisher wings — Jung is feeling understandably tired and insane. This is when his soul, a female figure who surfaces periodically throughout the book, shows up again. She tells him not to fear madness but to accept it, even to tap into it as a source of creativity. “If you want to find paths, you should also not spurn madness, since it makes up such a great part of your nature.” 

Fascinating stuff. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

Mind U Theatre Live performance- by Toi Ora Artists

For all who attended the Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ June 2008 AGM, you will no doubt remember this performance. The Drama group at Toi Ora Live Art trust wrote and peformed this drama piece to better highlight what the experience of hearing voices can be like for a person. Or in this case two people. This was the first time the group had performed in front of an audience and they all did exceptionally well. Everyone loved it.

I hope you enjoy it too, and will help you to better understand why voice hearers often seem unable to concentrate!!

For more information on the courses that Toi Ora give please go here