Hearing voices has been described as everything from schizophrenic to godlike. Radical psychiatry in the 1960s contested what today are termed ‘auditory hallucinations’ seeing them as containing what couldn’t be said. The psychology researcher Eleanor Longden isn’t crazy — and neither are many other people who hear voices in their heads. She says the psychic phenomenon is a “creative and ingenious survival strategy” that should be seen “not as an abstract symptom of illness to be endured, but as complex, significant, and meaningful experience to be explored,” Recent research shows that there are a variety of explanations for hearing voices, with many people beginning to hear voices as a response to extreme stress or trauma.
Psychologist Eleanor Longden, writer Jeanette Winterson and psychoanalyst Susie Orbach discuss hearing voices and the value these may hold for the individual.