PsychCentral, 30 June 2009
2) I love your description of schizophrenia in the beginning of the book: “Schizophrenia is not a case of snapping back and forth between different personalities–a common misconception. Schizophrenia is the hearing of voices, but the hallucinations can be seen, felt, and smelled as well as heard. It’s fright night for life for many, an all-consuming terror that never ends.” Wow. What a description. What do you think the most common misconceptions are about the illness?
Patrick: There’s only one misconception that must be cleared up, and it’s a massive one. There is widespread ignorance about the experience of hearing voices, having verbal or auditory hallucinations, and this is the most common experience of schizophrenia. If we could just start thinking of schizophrenia as hearing voices, then this would clear up a lot of confusion right off the bat. People would begin to understand the experience from the point of view of the person having it.
Unfortunately, our ignorance has been abetted by fear. For so long, the idea of engaging therapeutically with verbal hallucinations has been viewed with boneheaded suspicion. This needs to change. The evidence is in. This one shift in attitude could open the flood gates to healing and recovery.
The correction has been firmly planted in Europe, the first glimmer of hope coming twelve years ago with the beginning of the Hearing Voices Network in Maastricht. Their meetings have since flourished in Europe. For some reason this more opened-minded attitude has taken much longer to reach and root itself in the United States. It will though–it’s absolutely inevitable like all irrepressibly good ideas. Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices
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