Saturday, November 28, 2009

A note to everyone in my head

I hear voices in my head. I refer to them as individuals. One, in particular, the one that is the most self-critical and critical of others around me, has a distinctive male voice, my stepfather's in fact. On the other hand, whilst experiencing them as individuals dependent of 'me', I am also perfectly aware that I am not experiencing a psychosis, that these voices are a manifestation of particular parts of my personality. Perhaps, parts of my personality that I don't particularly like to own, but nonetheless... when the voices speak, or scream and shout in my head, I am mostly aware that it is 'me'. In times of particular stress, when the voices are demanding and unrelenting in the idea that I should do something destructive... 'kill yourself, cut yourself, drink yourself stupid', I find it hard to keep in my mind that it is 'me' that is saying it and not some seperate malicious entity torturing me, and pushing me to the edge of the cliff. There are three distinctive voices I experience.. "The Voice" (my stepfather's), the child and "Game face", who feels like an older, firmer version of me that tells me to buck up, and barks orders at me, to get me through emotionally difficult situations without falling apart. And then there is a crowd of others that function only as a group, taunting, whispering threats. Sometimes, I feel as though 'me' is pushed completely out of my head, as one or another of the voices takes control of my body and voice, or when they start arging with each other. I dissasociate, either partially or entirely, and what happens in that time becomes vague and fuzzy. I am 'me' within myself to varying degrees throughout the day, week, month.

I used to think I was going crazy. I didn't want to speak about the 'voices' because I thought it would appear as though I had some kind of schitzo-typal disorder. But I have learnt that it is actually quiet normal. This happens to everyone to some degree. "I just heard my mother's voice come out of my mouth" is a common sentiment. It's just to a slightly more fragmented degree with me. The multiplicity of self, is essentially part of being human, but can sometimes go awry when parts of self have to be repressed or disowned, particularly in abusive households.  I was taught that I had no right to anger, and that anger in fact was very dangerous, so a part of me broke away somewhat and became the receptacle of my anger (ironically embodied in the voice of the one who made anger so dangerous in the first place) but it is still linked with in my mind to 'me', however tenuously. I would like the voices in my head to realise that they can all exist, that they can negotiate rather than wage war against each other, that they all have an equal right, space and place inside me. I know... a bit 'and world peace!' But that's my aim in therapy. So this is a shout out to the voices in my head, the day is coming when we are all just gonna have to learn to get a long.

Interestingly, my Therapist is Jungian oriented. I've not particularly noticed the presence of this orientation strongly in my therapy, I guess she is kind of one of those therapists that just engages whatever techniques and orientations are appropriate for the situation. But in the hours she spent in the emergency room waiting for my admission those many months ago, we were talking about what I have read, and when I mentioned Jung, she told me, that was her 'chosen orientation' or area of interest, I guess.

Carl Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of analytical (Jungian) therapy. His approach seemed to move away from the heavy 'scientific' bias, urging the consideration of the self in terms of spirituality and the collective unconciousness. One of his big things was the concept of psychological archetypes.  The Self (It signifies the coherent whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person), The Anima and The Animus (the unconscious or true inner self of an individual, as opposed to the persona or outer aspect of the personality. In the unconscious of the male, it finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female, it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus.) and The Shadow (part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts). What distinguishes Jungian psychology is the idea that there are two centers of the personality. The ego is the center of consciousness, whereas the Self is the center of the total personality, which includes consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego. The Self is both the whole and the center. While the ego is a self-contained little circle off the center contained within the whole, the Self can be understood as the greater circle.( )
Jungian theory is pretty hard and somewhat nebulous to understand, and there is certainly a lot more ot it then my meagre little synopsis. But in it, intrinsically, I sense that idea of a multiplicity of self, and a goal towards unification (Jung would refer to it as actualisation and individuation. No doubt the idea of a multiplicity of self is inherent in a lot of psychological theories. CBT would have us conversing and renegotiaion thoughts and conceptions within our mind automatically. But I'm glad that the theory my therapist most relates to, is at least in mind, conducive to my major end goal. Everybody in my mind just getting along

We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

Carl Jung

#On a good note, managed to get out of the house once again today. Still holding on.  Still fighting the urge to let go.


  1. Game Face. I totally understand that. Mine is abrupt to the point of cruelty. I never know who to listen to in my head. Seems like I have my own internal dialogue running 24/7 to the point where I often put my iPod on at full volume to try and drown it out. I hope you get some peace soon.

    Lola x

  2. Thanks Lola..I do the same thing with the Ipod, but as noted in the next post... sometimes it seems like the random function on my Ipod conspires to join in with the voices..