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The Voice-Hearer

Woods, Angela



Background: For 25 years, the international Hearing Voices Movement and the UK Hearing Voices Network have campaigned to improve the lives of people who hear voices. In doing so, they have introduced a new term into the mental health lexicon: “the voice-hearer.” Aims: This article offers a “thick description” of the figure of “the voice-hearer.” Method: A selection of prominent texts (life narratives, research papers, videos and blogs), the majority produced by people active in the Hearing Voices or consumer/survivor/ex-patient movements, were analysed from an interdisciplinary medical humanities perspective. Results: “The voice-hearer” (i) asserts voice-hearing as a meaningful experience, (ii) challenges psychiatric authority and (iii) builds identity through sharing life narrative. While technically accurate, the definition of “the voice-hearer” as simply “a person who has experienced voice-hearing or auditory verbal hallucinations” fails to acknowledge that this is a complex, politically resonant and value-laden identity. Conclusions: The figure of “the voice-hearer” comes into being through a specific set of narrative practices as an “expert by experience” who challenges the authority and diagnostic categories of mainstream psychiatry, especially the category of “schizophrenia.” Read More:

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2013
Deposit Date Jun 21, 2013
Journal Journal of Mental Health
Print ISSN 0963-8237
Electronic ISSN 1360-0567
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 3
Public URL