Inventing the Self

Confident Team Manager

October 28th, 2013 by Shona Mari Sapphire · No Comments

McCarthy Jones sets the tone for his report on the series of neuroscientfic tests being done to study brains of voice-hearers in the very beginning when he points out the terminology being used is meant to decipher the type of patients participating in the studies, and not to make an assertion about the existence of a so-called voice-hearer’s brain, as he says “brains do not hear voices, people do” (191). Although the studies are densely discipline specific, there seemed to be an overall trajectory towards building a better model of the voice hearer’s neurobiological and neurocognitive brain which might reveal the “neural underpinnings” of this condition. All of which requires far more research. What is the interaction between the neuroscientific (versus psychiatric) and the Voice Hearing Network’s approach to voice-hearing?  What is the distinction between psychiatric versus neuroscientific approaches to this condition?

I noted last week in Agnes’ Jacket, Hornstein’s mention of the accomplishments of Dr. Rufus May, as a former schizophrenic patient turned psychiatrist: “Mental health professionals may think they’r the only ones capable of making sense of psychological experience, but Rufus May gives new meaning to the idea of patients taking over the asylum” (17). It was really amazing to place an embodied representation of May with what we read about him in Hornstein’s account of the Hearing Voices Movement.

In the video lecture, May makes several important assertions on the relationship of mindfulness with mental health, for voice hearers, mental disorders or people in general. He makes a correlation between pain management and the acceptance that is the key outcome of mindfulness. Pain is thought to be experienced more acutely when the mind “resists” it, by building up thoughts about the pain itself. Alleviating resistance to the pain allows it to be more manageable. This pain may be likened to the resistance voice hearers feel as targets of society’s intolerance for their condition. So being able to find acceptance internally might make society’s (and as a result, their own) judgment less combatant and therefore less damaging.

May points out the need to become a“confident team manager”with one’s voices allows for all to be heard. His interpretation of one voice becoming dominant or acting as a bully and making others its victims, rather than its friends, seems to carry logic that would be applicable for anyone’s personality in general. May mentions forming a dialogue with distraction when it persistently arises, (as a  worry or stressful thought), as a way of acknowledging it and therefore alleviating the anxiety it is causing. These two concepts remind me of the Major/Minor multiplicity of personality assessment and the need to build awareness of the multi-dimensionality of one’s persona. By managing the multiplicity of one’s personality, a more coherent or peaceful self-narrative might emerge.

I wonder if the idea of the mindful walking; one step forward inhale, one step forward exhale, is stepping outside of oneself to find awareness, as he puts it, or if it is stepping INto oneself, on a physiological level? He remarks the often detrimental misuse of mindfulness to suppress feelings, thoughts, voices, which inevitably erupt in a destructive manner. Could understanding the story of one’s voices also be felt physiologically? It seems the theme of understanding and acceptance is present in the hearing voices movement and I wondered about the embodied component of establishing such integration.


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