The voice inside, by Paul Baker. No 1: Introduction

The voice inside: A practical guide to coping with hearing voices by Paul Baker.


How work on the hearing voices experience has developed.

How did it start?

The first UK Hearing Voices Group was formed in 1988. It began as a small planning group originating in Manchester, inspired by the pioneering work of Professor Marius Romme, a psychiatrist from Maastricht in the Netherlands, and the Dutch self help group Foundation Resonance which was established through this work. Members of the UK group have visited Maastricht many times and attended conferences organised by the Foundation and in return have hosted visits by the Dutch workers. In 1989 the Manchester group organised a speaking tour in the North of England for Marius Romme, Sandra Escher (science journalist) and Anse Streefland (a non-patient voice hearer and Chair of Resonance). The meetings were very well attended by voice hearers, their relatives, and interested professionals. This has become a regular annual visit. Knowledge of the work has been spread by the publication of articles in specialist magazines and journals, local newspapers and the national media and is now the subject of the book “Accepting voices” published by Mind publications in 1993. This contact has continued to develop over the last nine years and in August 1995 the first international conference on the subject was held in the Netherlands.

What is the traditional belief about Hearing Voices?

Firstly, hearing voices has been regarded by clinical psychiatry as an auditory hallucination and as a symptom of conditions such as schizophrenic disorders, manic depression and psychosis. The usual treatment – major tranquilliser – is administered in order to reduce the delusions and hallucinations. However, not everyone responds to this type of treatment. Secondly, there are many people in the UK who hear voices, some of whom cope with their voices well without psychiatric intervention. This fact has been neglected. This guide asks if there is another way of thinking about voices?

Hearing Voices – A New Approach

Marius Romme (Professor of Social Psychiatry at the University of Limburg, Maastricht) in association with the UK Hearing Voices Network carried out research over nine years in the Netherlands and the UK and in his words:

“What this research shows is that we must accept that the voices exist. We must also accept that we cannot change the voices. They are not curable, just as you cannot cure left-handedness – human variations are not open to cure – only to coping. Therefore to assist people to cope we should not give them therapy that does not work. We should let people decide for themselves what helps or not. It takes time for people to accept that hearing voices is something that belongs to them.”