Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Do you hear voices in your head?

Once, I was counseling a young woman who was hearing "voices." She said that the "voices" were in the form of punitive animals (dog, insects etc.) attacking her at bedtimes. Along with these "voices," she narrated numerous instances where she felt abused and neglected by family members. Her own father and mother, who eventually joined the sessions, tried to explain away her years of feeling unlovable, worthless, and bad through their collective "voices"  and scolding.

In psychotherapy, these "voices in the head" are described in various ways. Psychotherapist Dr. Fritz Perls of the Gestalt School call these voices "introjected parental voices." Cognitive therapist, Dr. Aaron Beck, calls them "automatic thoughts." Author Eric Berne referred to it as a set of "parental recordings that are like cassette tapes." According to some estimates, there are about 25,000 hours of these tape recordings in a normal person's head. Author Robert Firestone offered evidence that in their most pathological form, patients become suicidal and homicidal, or hear actual hallucinations instructing them to act out destructive impulses.

In beginning recovery from these inner "voices," it's important to realize how powerful these "voices" are once they've become deeply embedded. Techniques, insights, and inner tools have been devised for confronting and changing these self-destructive "voices" in our head. We all need to set ourselves free from them.

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