The Hearing Voices Database firstly acknowledges that the experience of hearing verbal auditory hallucinations is delineated between being a positive or negative experience. Given this, it seeks to help people who are finding the experience distressing and undesirable.
It approaches solutions in an unconventional manner, from the ‘bottom up’, meaning that it develops solutions by focusing on the symptoms (what the voices say, also known as the phenomenology). The medical profession always an understandably approach the issues from the top down, focusing on the existence of the experience and the elimination of the experience.
This ‘bottom up’ approach is justified because if the phenomenology changes from being hostile and malevolent to being reasonable, limited and friendly and benevolent, then there is no need to eradicate the experience per se.
· Psychiatrists understandably explain to their patients that what they are hearing are verbal auditory hallucinations. They also spend very little if any time asking for details about the content, or phenomenology, that is, what5 the voices say. If they do, the patient cannot truthfully say what the voices say to them, because the psychiatrist is believing that the patient is responsible for what is said!
The great advantage of the internet and this study is that the patient is not a patient, they are a patient, but a person living with the experience of hearing voices, and they are anonymous. Only under these circumstances can the true phenomenology be collected.
1. Different personality types will report different happiness/satisfaction/enjoyment about hearing voices. They will have an extended life cycle (see (2.) below infra) and find the voices less or more hostile for longer or shorter periods of time.
2. There is a ‘life cycle’ of what the voices say, and each person is subject to it. In order to make a prediction (though this is a complete guess), they start off hostile and work at imposing social isolation, then say things to elicit each of the 10 standard delusions in order.
3. There are 10 standard delusions, and they are achieved in order (statistically significant measure here). It will be shown that there is an external reason why there are only 10, and that this does not reflect human creativity, so the delusions are not likely to be of human origin. In fact they form part of the goals of the experience of verbal auditory hallucinations.
4. The delusions to which people succumb have a general order of incidence, the same for everybody. However the rate of their occurrence reflects the subjects personality type (as quasi measured in Q9 of Survey #1, “Please indicate how you feel about the following?”)
5. The voices use the same tactics and the same modi operandi to achieve their goals
6. The voices are very similar for everyone who shares a diagnosis. Therefore an effective measure against them will work for all members of that same group of people.
7. It is possible that there exists a statistically significant set of factors in common in individuals having the same diagnoses. These can potentially be elicited from the phenomenology. The commonality of these factors in part accounts for why the individual hears voices saying particular things. The factors include
a. Personality type (quasi) measurement
c. Education or limited knowledge
d. Religious affiliation
In the absence of these factors, it is highly likely and expected that the phenomenology pertaining to a particular individual will focus on or around features of their past and present that enable precipitation of the set of common (10) delusions.
For example, if the individual subject to voices is or was a sports person, then the voices will frequently talk about a situation involving team mates or other sports participants known to the subject, and about other sporting subject matters.
· The Hearing Voices Database changes the ‘balance of power’ (the number of voices each person is hearing, because voice hearers are nearly always outnumbered, and this matters very much) so the person hearing the voices is presenting like the sum total of all the people that have contributed to the database. The database changes the ‘numbers’. Instead of 1 (voice hearer) against 6 voices, it becomes 264 voice hearers against 6 voices. If they say you are hated, the person using the database has proof that 264 people don’t hate them, and only 6 do.
· The Hearing Voices Database changes the social dynamic prevailing upon the subject. Instead of being bullied psychologically (through words), the person hearing the voices effectively becomes a very large group of people repelling the bullies, and the subject becomes armed with a pragmatic, significant, ‘proven’, very intelligent, superior and sophisticated set of words to fight back with.
· The Hearing Voices Database gives the person hearing the voices the moral high ground, the intellectual high ground, and implicitly but critically the social high ground, in addition to the legal high ground.
· The Hearing Voices Database provides the opportunity to ‘second-guess’ or know in advance what the voices are going to say. This is like an ‘inoculation’ against the voices. With forewarning, the person hearing them can be well prepared with whatever they choose to fight back with
When ‘voices’ become (pathological – interrupting normal life), they invariably become this through a number of themes idiosyncratic to the circumstances. It is the presence of these thematic qualities that cause the distress reported by those people who seek medical help. It is against these themes, through their mitigation, that the existing good advice gains its efficacy.
It is a fact that the presence of verbal auditory hallucinations alone is not in itself sufficient for the voices to assume an etiological state of pathology. It is only the credibility of the phenomenological stimuli along the constructs of these themes that results in the search for intervention and the basis of circumstances of distress.
Given that these assertions are correct, and they are, then that identifies a pathway of effective intervention that is essentially opposite to medical intervention through pharmacology, especially where there is an underlying assertion of an organic and neurophysiological origin of malaise and symptoms.
Notwithstanding un-ignorable likelihood of un-measured concomitant confounding additional factors, the dismantling of the credibility of the themes will render the voices down to being innocuous, though annoying. This is an argument that probably supports pharmacological intervention, and certainly appears to be the goal of it.
The database of 1st person information is focused around not the etiology of the voices, but the ability to disable them, or to substantially change the content and impact of the voices themselves. In other words, the database achieves the opposite of the medication approach (which is top-down). The database is a bottom-up approach, focused on changing the symptoms, that results in there being no further need for further treatment.
As an illustration of this, pretend that instead of hostility and criticism that someone was hearing, they heard compliments and encouragement. If this occurred, they would not only fail to present seeking help and treatment, they would lead an improved life, and look for ways to increase the frequency and amplitude of their verbal hallucinations. This is obviously a very much simplified explanation though.
The database achieves what the above example indicates. It uses a simple approach that changes stimuli from being symptoms to being features not needing avoidance, to simply being annoying if they persist. However, it is possible to change them in such a way, that they become wanted and desirable. This potential is identified in existing literature when it points out that different cultures see the voices differently, and at different times in different cultures, it has been thought that to hear voices, is a quality that makes someone elite, special, and important in a good way.