Today, September 14th, marks World Hearing Voices Day! World Hearing Voices Day recognizes and celebrates the diversity of experiences of people who hear voices, including our struggles. As Intervoice puts it,
It is a day to promote our right to define our experiences in our own way. It’s a time to expand the narrow stereotypes that still exist about voice-hearing – that it should be a source of shame and secrecy. We want to help create a world where people can talk about their experiences with those they choose – and expect an empathic response. We want to promote the idea that voice-hearing is a diverse human experience and that we need to leave judgements and assumptions at the door.
World Hearing Voices Day has been celebrated since 2006, first proposed by Louise Pembroke, an English voice hearer and psychiatric survivor who hoped to challenge negative attitudes towards the experience, specifically the assumption that hearing voices means a person is ill. Today is a day to recognize that many people live well with voices, value their voice hearing experience, and are proud to call themselves voice hearers. However, it’s also a day to recognize complexity – including the fact that for many other people, hearing voices is difficult, upsetting, or not something they want to be a big part of their identity. There are as many ways to hear voices as there are people who hear voices, and building a community where we’re able to share our many, varied, often messy experiences without judgment is central to the Hearing Voices Movement. As HVN England wrote in a 2020 blog post,
World Hearing Voices Day is a day to celebrate the strength and diversity of those of us who hear voices. It’s a day to lift up our stories (in all their complexity). It’s a day where those of us who can speak about voices openly (without fear of being bullied, harmed or coerced) can say ‘Here I Am!’ and hopefully create the kinds of conversations that help erode some of the silence and shame surrounding voice-hearing.
A key tenet of the Hearing Voices Movement, and our network, is that voice-hearing is a diverse human experience and that there is no single truth about voice-hearing that fits everyone. We are interested in people’s own ways of making sense of their experiences … in the relationship they have with the voices they hear or the visions they see. Whatever your experience of voices, visions, smells, presences, tactile sensations or tastes – you’re welcome here.
To celebrate World Hearing Voices Day, try some of these suggestions from Intervoice:
- Hosting, or going to, an event (for example, the Hearing Voices Study Club will be meeting for its inaugural session today, September 14th in Vancouver; or, here’s an upcoming by-donation webinar hosted by ISPS-US featuring author Ruth Ozeki and members of the HVN-USA)
- Using the day to talk about ‘hearing voices’. Share some of Intervoice’s essential facts and promote some discussion with friends, colleagues and relatives.
- Using social media to raise awareness (for example, by tweeting about voices and visions with the hashtag #WorldHearingVoicesDay)
- Downloading and sharing Intervoice’s postcards with quotes from voice-hearers on your website or social media (or making your own!)