An electronic newsletter of the Coalition's Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery
The Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery provides assistance to the New York City mental health provider community through expert trainings, focused technical assistance, evaluation, information dissemination and special projects.
Tami Gatta, RDT, LCAT
The Hearing Voices Movement is continuing to take root in the United States, as voice hearers and allied professionals seek opportunities for empowerment within the voice hearing/vision seeing experience. While there is no definitive way to provide support, there are several ways to create an environment conducive to healthy exploration together.
In short, regardless of whether you have lived experience, you can support people who hear voices or see visions by validating their experiences, helping them make meaning out of them, and reducing their isolation.
Tami Gatta, RDT, LCAT, a privately practicing drama therapist, consults to those developing services for voice hearers. She also works as the Hearing Voices Group Developer, and within the hospital diversion program, at Community Access. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia provides a broad framework for understanding hearing voices as a personal and social phenomenon. It covers the nature of psychosis, offers insights into support techniques, suggests research and prevention efforts, and more. The 180-page, free online text is primarily by clinical psychologists, but also people with relevant lived experience in the United Kingdom, where the Hearing Voices movement originated.
Hearing Voices NYC lists local groups and contacts, and provides a list of voice hearing materials available for lending at the Jefferson Market library in Greenwich Village.
Hearing Voices Network USA connects voice hearers and allies across the country.
Intervoice (the International Network for Training, Education and Research into Hearing Voices) has updated information on publications, training opportunities, and global conferences.
The Maastricht Interview has adult and child versions of a questionnaire about voice hearing created by the founder of the Hearing Voices Movement.
Eleanor Longden’s moving story on TED talks captures the spirit of the hearing voices movement though personal narrative.
Working with Voices—Victim to Victor (approximately $15) Written by voice hearers, this supportive 2006 workbook offers a guide to exploring voices alone or with others.
Steven R. Anderson
Critics have long contended that diagnostic labels cause or intensify mental illness stigma. To them, terms like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and other diagnoses do as much harm as good. They label individuals for life, perpetuating the negative attitudes that researchers have identified as harmful. Yet as the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) attests, diagnostic labels are useful for categorizing and documenting mental illness—not to mention receiving insurance coverage—and will likely be here for the foreseeable future.
Given this reality, is there anything in the naming of mental illness itself that can reduce stigma? Surprisingly, yes. In 2002, the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology decided to change the previous term for schizophrenia, seishin bunretsu byo (“mind-split disease”) to a new term, togo shittcho sho (“integration disorder”). Studies found that many psychiatrists never informed their patients of their diagnosis when they had to use the old “mind-split disease” terminology.
With the name change, however, this changed. A 2005 study found that physicians were significantly more likely to discuss the diagnosis with their patients using the new term, reducing the stigmatizing culture of silence that had dominated the diagnosis of schizophrenia in Japan.
Bleuler coined “schizophrenia” (literally “split mind,” from the Greek) to describe the fragmented thinking he observed in his patients. Despite this, the term is used in everyday language to denote a “split mind” or “multiple personality,” neither of which accurately describes schizophrenia. This inaccurate, but common, usage contributes to the significant stigma that individuals with schizophrenia face.
Why haven’t the United States and other Western nations followed the lead of Japan in updating a problematic term? When it comes to diagnostic labels, at stake is more than just a name.
The opinions expressed in RECOVERe-works do not necessarily reflect the views of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies.
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