Monday, 3 September 2012





For more than thirty years, I have experienced voices and physical intrusions or presences in my body and mind.  Continuously - and still continuing.  And even though it means that I continue to experience all of the ‘symptoms’ that would have me classified as ‘schizophrenic’, I am not, nor ever have been ill from any of these causes.

I have tried – Oh Lord!  How I have tried!  – I have tried to tell anyone who would listen or read that what I experience is of spiritual origin.  Of that, I am certain.  How could I be otherwise?  It is not arrogance that makes me say so.  How could I not be certain?  How could anyone not be certain if they had shared my experiences of the last thirty-plus years?  And if anyone wants to know the basis for this certainty; if they want to share my experiences, they can know and share by reading the book that I have written.  Called Listening to the Silences, in a world of hearing voices  it contains a full account of what led up to the moment when “A presence that I could not see moved from the space in front of me… In my mind began conversation as between two separate people… I began to hear voices.”

Even more so have I tried to describe, to explain what it is like to hear voices; to experience the feeling of ‘an other’ inside my body and brain, sharing my inner space to such a degree that I feel revolted as if I had some great parasite within; a parasite that is trying to control my emotions such that I might feel laughter or tears when I have no need to laugh or cry; trying to propel me in this direction or that or to this action or that.  I search constantly for analogies; I stretch existing analogies to ridiculous limits in a perpetual campaign to try to achieve understanding, because it is only the individuals who hear voices, who experience physical presence and who experience the dominating influences – it is only they who know what it is like to hear voices, to experience physical presence and the dominating influences.

       I repeatit is only the individuals who hear voices, who experience physical presence and who experience the dominating influences – it is only they who know what it is like to hear voices, experience physical presence and the dominating influences.

        Left to themselves, such individuals would not use such words as ‘illusion’, ‘delusion’, and ‘auditory hallucination’.  These are words that have been imposed on them from the moment they may have said tentatively to a G.P., something such as, “I hear voices.”  I remember an occasion when I began to try to tell a particular G.P. about my experiences, to be met with a response that came back faster than one of Pavlov’s dogs salivating – “Delusions.”

I use the comparison with Pavlov’s dogs and their conditioned responses deliberately, for somewhere within the teaching of many Medical Schools there must be a degree of Pavlovian indoctrination.  Take my late friend ‘Harry’ – a G.P. who sometimes came to stay.  I had to say to Harry only one word, and he was off!  The word?  Acupuncture.  Immediately I said it, I would be assailed with a diatribe about the dangers that could come from the needles, in which ‘hepatitis’ figured largely – along with much invective about the complete ineffectiveness of this ‘quack’ so-called ‘treatment.  ‘Quack’ appeared frequently when he expressed his opinion about various complementary or alternative therapies.  The fact that he had come to stay with me to get help from me in my rôle as a natural healer restrained him not.  Even as he received benefit from me, I was nevertheless lumped in with the rest!

Now Harry had never explored ‘acupuncture’ in its reality.  I had, and had obtained considerable benefit in my efforts to maintain my health at a high level.  So I knew that the needles used came out individually from sealed packets and were discarded, or, in the case of one practitioner, the needles had been sterilised in an autoclave at the nearby hospital.  If, alternatively, I had mentioned to Harry something such as ‘homeopathy’, I have no doubt my ear would have been bent with much derisive language, well peppered with ‘double-blind trials with placebos’.  And so on, with any ‘complementary’ or ‘alternative’ therapy that I might mention – instant derision that was not open to reason or fact.

If you are reading this, never having had contact with individuals who are troubled by internal voices, there is a strong possibility that words such as ‘psychosis’, ‘psychotic’, ‘paranoid psychotic’ – even ‘violent paranoid schizophrenic’ will have come to the forefront of your mind.  Why?  Because you also, like my friend Harry, have been programmed into this ‘instant opinion mode’ – in your case, by the Media of course.  Or, if you listen to such as Jasper Carrott, ‘nutter’ might easily appear with the rest of the derisive, pejorative words, and be accepted with loud guffaws.

More than half a lifetime ago, when I was thirty-seven (I am now eighty-six) I was made very ill following a medical misdiagnosis and most inappropriate medication.  I developed a severe clinical depression.  I have all of my clinical notes covering this time, and, with difficulty, studied them in order to write the first part of my book.  Apart from the personal anguish of recalling those desperate times, what came back to my memory was the difficulty – almost impossibility – of describing to a psychiatrist exactly what was going on ‘inside’ me – in my mind - in my thoughts – or physically within me, even.

Much greater was the seeming impossibility of reasonable communication with someone from another culture.  Twice I was in the partial care of registrars from India, and apart from the fact that colloquial conversation and understanding were virtual non-starters, one of them seemed to be working within a vastly different doctor/patient relationship from that to which I had become used.  (Some years later, I had a brief correspondence with a mother in Mumbai who was desperately concerned about the fate of her son and his deterioration from the drugs that he was prescribed.  In response to what I wrote about the spiritual intervention, she wrote, “Undoubtedly many have gone to ashrams and got better, but here in Mumbai – what can we do?  And anyway, the doctors terrify you!”)

On another occasion, I was sent for a second opinion to a University Department where it seemed that Freud ruled O.K..  All of the interviewing could have been fitted in a text-book by Freud, and he might have written the subsequent opinion that was received by my Consultant.  Looking back it feels as if I had fallen into the clutches of some  great Freudian Psychiatric Procrastus – he of the iron bed that you were made to fit by stretching or chopping – and where, willy-nilly, my head would be made to fit the Freudian mould – or else!

If one has a ‘normal’ illness, there are many everyday words that even the most inarticulate persons have at their disposal – hot, cold, pain, sleep, bowel movements, vomit and so on.  If one is making tentative attempts to get help in understanding and then describing the seemingly indescribable, where is the vocabulary?  Where are the most basic words that may be used to describe the situations such as I shall illustrate?  Where are the words that one can find to describe the seemingly indescribable – the invisible, inaudible and intangible?

Why not join me in a little rôle playing?  Throughout the time that I have been experiencing these phenomena, I have recorded what I call ‘ploys’ – stratagems that may be used by intruding ‘entities’ to influence one’s thoughts, senses and behaviour: and I have described many of the ways in which an individual may first ‘acquire’ these intruders.  But first – there is always a ‘but’ – you must understand that I have written and recorded knowing with an unshakeable certainty that I was dealing with intrusive ‘spirits’, ‘entities’, beings’.  Not only that, but while I concentrate on the ‘malign’ intrusions, because these are the ones that may enter and attempt to undermine and dominate the sensitive mind and person, I have to emphasise – again with unshakeable certainty – that there exist the infinitely opposite: infinitely opposite ‘entities’ whose sole purpose in their interaction is to give support and create harmony.

Why not become ‘Ruth’ for a short while?  ‘Ruth’, mid-thirties, has heard voices and experienced physical presence within herself for a number of years.  About two years ago, she was invaded by a strong dominating presence that declared itself to be ‘God’.  So here you are, emotionally alone and unable to shut out this persistent, analytical, dominating presence that goes on and on; scrutinising your every thought and action; deriding your futile attempts to escape from this ‘Divine’ analysis; telling you that you are the lowest of the low, no better than shit; unfit to live and continue polluting the Earth with your vile presence; an Earth that would be so much cleaner without you.

“SO GO!”  “There’s that bus, that lorry.  Go on – JUMP!”  But you quail at the sight of the thundering wheels and step back.  But ‘GOD’ is still there.  “RIGHT – there’s the river – you are on the bridge – NOW JUMP!”

Would you jump?  
Could you, standing alone and, subject to such threats, resist? 

Ruth jumped.

Fortunately, you survive the jump and swim to the steep tidal muddy bank.  You struggle and crawl up it, losing your shoes and all of your lower clothes.  And almost out of your mind, covered in mud from head to toe and naked from the waist down, you struggle to reach the door of someone living nearby whom you know, to be taken in and cared for.

Would you agree with your – i.e. Ruth’s – psychiatrist that you have a chemical imbalance in your brain?

There is an opinion that hearing voices is similar to having a ruminative, reflective ‘conversation’ in one’s mind.  Having reached your friend’s house, been taken in, bathed and looked after, would you be eager to talk about the interesting ruminative conversation that you had just had?

But how is it possible that your mind could have been taken over and you become dominated by this ‘thing’ that calls itself ‘God’?  After all, you are not ill – mentally or otherwise.  
Here you are – you are no longer Ruth, but yourself.  You are in prime health and eager to join your friends as you all go to hear the great evangelical preacher – the one and only Billy Graham, or another and similarly well known spiritual orator.  Maybe you are seeking the ‘God’ experience?  Many people did at the time of the so-called ‘charismatic movements’.  Groups got together – some individuals ‘speaking in tongues’; others full of deep fervour - and much more.  So, the much-vaunted ‘evangelist’ has come to town, together with the whole of his entourage.

The atmosphere, the build-up, the electrically charged environment.  The early ‘warm-up’ speakers are full of zeal; the choir sings ecstatically, while all around arms are raised Heaven-ward in adoration.

  And then, the ‘charismatic one’.  

What can I say?  You will have seen on TV much that is similar.  And then he begins to call individuals by name, and you begin to tremble in hope or fear that your name will be called.  And it is – and eager hands usher you down to join the others at the front, where you stand as the ‘evangelist’ moves along the line – speaking to this one, touching that one – and he touches you lightly on the chest.  But a light touch is not what you experience.  A firm and completely irresistible pressure is there, forcing you back into the receptive arms of the stewards, who lay you carefully on the ground.  You have been ‘Slain by the Spirit’!

And you feel ‘chosen’.  And it does not seem at all surprising that you feel all around or within you, some sort of ‘presence’; nor that you appear to be spoken to in your mind?  And the voice and presence continue – become part of your life – yet it seems so natural, to have such warm companions who appear to generate around you an ambience of spirituality.

“Companions”?  Yes.  Plural?  Yes.  It has been hinted, gradually, that you may be invited to be part of a spiritual fraternity – obviously at a very junior level; a neophyte, no less.  You will be assessed in the friendliest sort of way, but the ‘higher’ spirits will have to be assured that you are at a satisfactory level of spiritual ‘cleanliness’ to be able to work with them now, and then join them as a team when the time has come for you to ‘pass on’.

And so begins a process that I can only show in the most brief summary, during which you might find yourself engaged in a rigorous prayer life – even getting up in the middle of the night to ‘join’ in prayer.  You will be encouraged to ‘assess’ your friends one by one, and faults will be found, and you will be urged to discard the friends.  You might be urged to adopt an abstemious life-style and diet.  You will be encouraged to delve into your past life and expose past defects, peccadilloes, events that even now bring a feeling of shame.  It may be suggested that someone, already dead, may want to come to you and apologise for past wrongs – which then has you trawling your memory and ‘accepting’ the apology, or conversely re-igniting the anger and hurt
Your mind is being ‘trawled’ skilfully in such a way that everything is revealed – or, surprisingly, appears to be known already.  Gradually the ‘catechism’ becomes critical, almost condemnatory; some of your ‘hidden’ shameful acts are played back to you…

No matter what you do, you are always being watched, analysed, commented upon.

It is extremely difficult to find analogies that would enable someone to imagine themselves in such a situation.  The nearest that I can find that will give some inkling derives from the time shortly after I had moved into my present house in 1971.  It was the first dwelling that was actually ‘mine’ and not rented.  It has four acres of land and the potential use as a small-holding.  It is beautifully situated and living here can bring on a state of deep relaxation.  

In this relaxed state, I met and married a widow who had two teenage children, all with a common interest in horses and smallholding life.  It seemed ideal and I saw no problems.  However, K. was ahead of me.  She and her late husband, an architect, had already developed some run-down property.  Mine was not in any way run down, but K. soon had ideas for ‘development’.  I had been about to begin to develop my DIY skills; K’s were already ahead of mine.  I began to experience the ‘critical watching’ – “I wouldn’t have done it that way.”  “The person who taught me…”

The Mother and children were already a unit with established instant inter-communication.  I would be observed, reported on and discussed during their journeys together to and from school.  Thing were decided by this ‘committee’ during the drive.  Even casual remarks were seized on a reported back by the children… 

Have you had enough?  I soon did, and although it took me a total of three years, the day actually arrived when I could go around, savouring the space, my space; touching things; reclaiming my domain…

Surprisingly, this is exactly how I felt and behaved at the time when I realised that, almost completely, I had regained control of my own mind, in spite of the ploys and stratagems of the intruding entities.

And you?  How will you hold on to your mind, your ‘space’ while under this constant surveillance, dominance and ‘running commentary’ from your unseen and erstwhile spiritual ‘friends’?  How will you react to the presence that even though it is not there, is still there?  You will find that you are listening, constantly listening – listening to the voices when they are there, and listening to the silence when they are not – waiting for them to return at any moment.

Listening.  Constantly listening.  You are not hearing voices; you are listening to them.  And the constant listening is the greatest undermining influence in the whole of this sorry process.  And remember, within the midst of all that is going on there is one factor, a most important factor, which is never considered in all of the commentaries and analyses.  You are still a mammal.  Yes, the body that you inhabit is that of a mammal, and it retains all of the self-protection systems that have brought it through aeons of evolution.  And it retains them absolutely intact and functioning.

Hearing is part of our early warning system – probably one of the prime elements, for it is the one that would be most important after dark.  If, in our wild state, we heard an unusual or threatening sound, normally we would shift into ‘listening’ mode.  And our breathing would become shallow – might almost cease as we concentrated.  But more than that, for additionally we suspend a number of vital body functions.  Usually described simply as ‘flight/fight’ responses, there is a complex interaction that we do well to study if we are to understand the ways in which the constant listener is undermined – physically as well as mentally.

        In my book, I try to be specific about the variety of inner responses that may take place.  For example, there is a complex tensing of the genitals, and the bladder and anal sphincters.  These together have a close response into the base of the throat; while the sacrum and coccyx – our residual tail – react in such a way that would depress and clamp down the tail – if we still had one.  At the same time, arms, shoulders, buttocks and legs are preparing for the action for which the ‘listening’ is preparing us.  Except that there is no flight/fight situation.  The listening goes on and on, and the various tensions and resultant inner reactions also go on and on.

        One of the prime objectives of the complex inner readjustments is the diversion of blood away from unnecessary functions into those that will be fully committed to the life-saving responses implied by ‘flight/fight’.  Thus the ‘locking’ of the throat will result in diminution of the blood supply to the brain, with what consequences to the permanent ‘listener’ one can only guess.  The tensions within the genitals may cause functional problems such as impotence, lack of sensitivity and frigidity; those in the sphincters may be the cause of such unwelcome by-products as haemorrhoids, or a dysfunctional prostate.  Permanent stresses within muscles and joints may be the source of constant pain, of no known cause.

If you, the permanent listener, develop any of these physical problems, you may be absolutely sure that the constant malign presences will claim that they have created them.  If you are in pain, they will claim to be the source of the pain, and that is punishment for your moral back-sliding.  If you are a man, and impotence becomes your lot – they will deride you for it and add further anxiety to that already resulting from the condition…         

I could go on, and on – but in doing so, I would be re-writing my book.  Yes, I have actually been there.  Not in the manner that I have just described, which shows a route on which anyone might find themselves.  My ‘journey’ into this sort of hell also began ‘innocently’ as I followed up an interest in dowsing or divining using a pendulum, and if this is the only part of my story that you want to read, you will find it told in Chapter 6. 

 But if that is all that you read, you will be robbing yourself.  

The remainder of the book from Chapter 6 onward shows how my life developed in the light of this knowledge; these experiences.  And it is written – as is the whole book – to try to bring greater understanding of the whole ‘voice hearing’ experience.  And not only will you be robbing yourself, but also those for whom the knowledge is intended – the inarticulate ones whose life really can be come a hell as they cope with all that the ‘intrusions’ can inflict upon them, and the hell that their journey into ‘psychiatry’ may make of their lives as they become suppressed, zombified by modern anti-psychotic drugs.

I have already described how I have identified a number of ‘ploys’ used by intruding entities, whom I always refer to as they – there being no certainty as to whether there is one or more of them.  As well as appearing in context in my narrative, they are grouped together in Chapter 16 of the book on the Internet.  As an example, here are two that are relevant to what I have just written.

19    Sometimes very vivid dreams are followed on waking by a deliberately fragmented ‘conversation’, often with the suggestion that one’s mind is being taken over at a deeper level.  If one is gullible, one can be convinced that one is losing one’s mind, or that it is part of a process by which one will become integrated into the ‘spirit mind’.

20    The moment of waking, or the time of gradually emerging awareness after sleep is most crucial, for one is then at one’s most vulnerable.  One’s first thoughts at these times are ‘answered’; indeed, it might seem that one is already in a conversation.  It is exceedingly difficult to avoid responding, and a dialogue can ensue from which it is hard to break free.  There can be a feeling created on waking, a sense of being with very gentle spiritual people, warm, welcoming and caring.  It is so easy to slip into this ambience, particularly if the rest of one’s life is bleak or fraught.

        But, as one is starting to feel ‘cosy’ and cared for, they start to imply that there are one or two, oh-so-teeny, defects that need correcting before one can be truly accepted and enjoy this ambience and ultimately be accepted into it after death.  Gradually the emphasis shifts becoming more needling and ultimately threatening.  One’s defects become grossly magnified, one’s sense of unworthiness exaggerated, and all the earlier warmth totally disappears.

        Sometimes an intrusion can be of such a cold, inhuman presence that one can feel oneself to be totally devoid of humanity, of love, of caring.  One could become either very ill or very evil. It is virtually impossible for anyone in this state to convey to another the sense of threat or terror that can be experienced at these times.  This inability to communicate can so increase a person’s sense of loneliness, of total isolation, that they can easily try to seek oblivion in drink or drugs or suicide - indeed, it is quite possible that in their mind they will be actively encouraged down some desperate or diabolical route.

 Moving on - you may have been invited out by some new-found friends – clubbing or whatever – and you find that almost everyone is looking for some sort of ‘high’, and never before having used any sort of drug, you find yourself smoking a ‘joint’.  Only you know the extent of your strange experiences.  You don’t know if they are good or bad.  You don’t know if it is normal to feel as if ‘someone’ has moved into your body and mind – is this part of the ‘trip’?  You feel withdrawn – alienated almost.  Your ‘friends’ ignore you and move on, and you are left to wander off home alone – or not alone?

It is very unlikely that you will ever have had cause to read about the shamans of other cultures – many ethnic groups world-wide have had shamans or similar ‘medicine’ men and women in their midst.  Almost all, it seems, used cannabis, peyote, ‘mushrooms’ or other hypnotics in the process that prepared them for the entry of their ‘familiar spirit’, and many also used incessant drumming for the same purpose.  Undoubtedly, all would have been trained from their early years in the use of the ‘substance’ and the ways of coping with the ‘other’ within themselves.
And you?  You have had no training or preparation; no foreknowledge of the possibility of being ‘entered’ – and only you will know how the story unfolds from now on…

I have found yet another rôle for you!  You are now Sara-Jane; you are in your early forties and are in a plane high above the Med.  You are returning from an absolutely blissful holiday in the Greek Islands, and to where you will return in a year’s time to marry Tom, your partner, who is beside you, lightly dozing.  Your mind is so full – the holiday just ended – already planning what you will wear next year.  Not a negative thought in your mind; nothing but happiness.

Then suddenly, all of the other people on the plane are talking about you, criticising you, condemning you, pulling you to pieces – your clothes; your morals – on and on.  As you cower in your seat, Tom wakes and you pour out the reasons for your distress – “They’re all talking about me!  They’re all talking about me!”  Tom stands up and looks around, and persuades you to do the same.  Not a single person shows any interest in you.

Somehow, you manage to keep things together while you land and travel home, where the dam bursts and the malign voices continue their castigation.  You have time off work, ostensibly with stress, and you struggle to cope.  Only with the strong support and care from Tom and your twin sister do you manage to avoid being ‘sectioned’.  Yet you have determination that this ‘thing’ is not going to beat you, and you struggle with the minimum of drug intake and try to find the real explanation of what has happened to you.

You scour the Internet, looking for articles, books – anything that might help.  You find one, a book, that seems to draw you, and you read it avidly, non-stop.  And at last, you have an explanation that seems to fit your own incredible experiences.  “I must write to this man and tell him”, you say to Tom.  And you do…
And here alongside me as I write is the letter from Sara-Jane, and she begins: “I want to say thanks for writing on the Internet about your experiences.  I found it to be the only true version of what I feel happened to myself last year.  I had been looking for books to read on the subject but I found nothing useful until I came across your account…”

She and Tom came to stay with me, and we were able to reach an even greater understanding of her experiences.  The year elapsed – and produced on my computer two wedding photographs of very happy people – Sara-Jane, looking absolutely exquisite, alongside a beaming Tom; and the second, with twin sister, equally looking radiant.

Sara-Jane can count herself fortunate, in that her experiences appear to have had a beginning and an end – or if not an actual ‘end’, but a finite analysis that shows that control is made possible by ‘awareness’ and knowledge.

Not so the ‘closet’ voice hearer such as Joyce, for whom the agony went on and on throughout almost the whole of her adult life.      
I first came to be acquainted with Joyce in her rôle as local Librarian, and this is how I saw her for a number of years until, following her retirement, our paths crossed in a different setting, and we began to learn more about each other.  In time, she learned of the account of my experiences that I was writing, and which eventually became my book.  It was then that her own remarkable story began to unfold, and while retaining her anonymity, she wrote it in its entirety for me to use in any manner that would inform and help anyone who suffers from the plague of inner voices and presences similar that which had been her lot for many years.  I reproduce it in its entirety as ‘J’s Story’ in Chapter 16 of my book on the Internet, and in my Blog in the post headed “SANE: HEARING VOICES”.

It would be difficult for me to fit you into Joyce’s life history – it covers a period too long for rôle playing.  She grew up in a quiet and caring family in rural Gloucestershire – an imaginative child having experiences of a spiritual nature that suffused her life with happiness.  Successful at school, she entered University to work towards her ultimate goal of Librarianship.  She writes:
        “At age nineteen, while studying at University, under great pressure trying to get accustomed to living alone in ‘digs’ – although I had a very kind landlady; never free of persistent catarrh causing dull headaches; anxious about keeping ahead of work commitments; having very little leisure time and depressed by the failure of two developing, but platonic friendships, I said to myself one day in utter despair “There is no meaning in anything.  It’s all just words, words, words”.

  At that moment something in my head just snapped, causing complete chaos inside.  I could hear voices uttering unspeakable blasphemies.  Whenever I lay down to sleep at night, shapes, colours, people’s faces churned round and round endlessly.  For the first three nights after my breakdown, I cannot remember sleeping at all.  This went on ceaselessly; day and night; utter torment; complete hell.  At this point I must state categorically that the ‘still small voice’ heard in that garden in Oxford, was totally different from these demonic ones.

        Outwardly, although it may seem hard to believe, I seemed normal, if somewhat withdrawn.  I could still talk to people; do my work, although with considerable difficulty in concentration.  I could shop, eat, do chores, cycle to lectures.  My mother, whom I only saw occasionally in those days, since I was living away from home, remarked during one visit that I seemed “hag ridden”.  How apt that phrase was!  I did not tell her or anyone, except by letter to the University psychiatrist describing what had happened, but never received an answer.  However, I think the psychiatrist must have asked one of my Tutors to keep an eye on me, because she started inviting me to her home and taking me to the cinema.

        I was like a zombie, my mind that had one time been so clear, now darkened.  I remember staring at myself in the mirror, my body feeling dead, but yet something in me still aware of all that was happening.  At no time did I contemplate suicide, but I desperately searched my memory for something that would alleviate the horror of my inner turmoil.  I remembered having been given a palm cross one Palm Sunday, when I was only seven or eight.  The recollection of that lovely day, the joy of that time, surrounded by loving people, the sun shining brilliantly outside the church, was calming and consoling.  For years, during every waking moment, I tried to keep the thought and picture of that cross in my inner vision.  I read the bible voraciously, copied whole chapters into a notebook, kept a crucifix under my pillow.  I also tried to visualise in the inner darkness, the colour and shape of the ‘inner’ sun, moon, and stars that were once so natural to see.

        After leaving University, doing a year’s practical library work and obtaining my Diploma in Librarianship, I started full time work.  I met and married a very considerate and loving husband.  We had no family.  The ‘voices’ did not abate even during the period of our marriage, but although he knew that I was suffering from some mental struggle, he did not know the details.  He was vegetarian, just not liking meat from boyhood.  He never tried to convert me, but gradually I became vegetarian myself, for several reasons, and have never wanted to revert to meat eating.  He died in 1982.

        I have had several good, satisfying jobs in libraries; made very many friends; have all sorts of hobbies – walking, reading, listening to music, embroidery, knitting, attending evening classes and study tours abroad.  I do voluntary committee and community work since taking early retirement; do gardening and have a pet cat.
        Through being a vegetarian, I was led to a guesthouse in Glastonbury, which turned out also to be a spiritual centre.  I had remained through all the years a staunch Christian, attending church, if not really regularly, at least at all the main festivals, but this was something, at Ramala as it is called, which began at long last to draw me out of the darkness.  The Christ light is worshipped there as living reality.  Their teaching and associated art work reawakened my visions.  I don’t mean by that that I experienced them as I had done in childhood, but I knew that they were being expressed through the work of Ramala.  It led me on to an even more wonderful realisation, connected with the former glory, which has restored life, light hope, joy.”

        At the outset, I wrote of my unshakeable and absolute certainty – certainty that there exist the infinitely opposite of the malign, destroying ‘presences’.

Infinitely opposite - the benign ‘entities’

whose sole purpose in their presence and interaction is to give support and create harmony   In doing so, I am entering another area where the choice of language and metaphor is as difficult as finding the language and analogies required to describe the malign intruders.  Almost every word or simile has already become embedded in the language of religion.

  Deliberately, at every stage and in every piece of my writing, I have been at great pains to dissociate myself with any and all religions, for I have tried to reach individuals of all religions or none.  I have described my own spiritual progress as it has impacted on my narrative, but in every other respect, I retain an inner privacy.  Throughout my book, and in context you will find many concrete examples of how I have experienced support and practical help – and yes, love, from the world of the ‘benign.

If ‘religion’ and all that the word implies – if religion is to have any impact on the lives of the individuals such as those that I write about, it is most likely to have its influence through the lives and beliefs of those who, professionally or privately, seek to understand and care for those who are in need of support and caring.  As I found when in the depths of a seemingly intractable depression, one can be spiritually ‘dead’.  Help, if it is to come at all, has to come from others, although compassion and understanding are not the sole prerogative of the ‘religions’.  But an understanding of the existence and rôle of the spiritual in the care of the mentally disturbed is at the disposal of all.

        How does the ‘spiritual’ reach the lives of the many whose minds have been invaded as the result, for example, of having been ‘abused’, possibly from childhood?  A Psychiatrist, the late Dr. Kenneth McAll, believed that he had found an answer in an understanding that ‘abuse’ in its various forms came down through successive generations.  Based on experiences gained when working in China, and during internment by the Japanese during World War 2, he became convinced that many mental problems resulted from the attachment of disturbed or malign spirits, and that in many instances these were ‘family’ attachments.  

        Through the Family Tree Ministry, which has been closed since his death, he showed how, by analysing the family tree, it might be possible to decide at which level of ancestry the original disturbance began.  Dr McAll’s book Healing the Family Tree describes how those who practised this Ministry, used prayer to attempt to persuade the sources of the disturbances and attachments to allow themselves to be led onward in a  spiritual sense.

        Even though my Librarian friend, Joyce, had had her own inner religious convictions, it seems that on her own, in her lonely furrow, she may not have sought help actively or specifically, whereas her support and eventual release came through the intervention and support of others who were firm in their religious practice and in its practical application in the care of others.

Many individuals instantly are put off by the very word, ‘spiritual’, because, immediately, it suggests ‘religion’ – and many are put of by religion.  From the outset, I have tried to separate the two, and yet to show that knowledge and understanding of the existence of the spiritual world that is ‘parallel’ to ours, will reveal the pathways that will lead to the wiser treatment of voice-hearers, and hopefully to the realisation that prescribed drugs will never actually cure ‘schizophrenia’.  

At best, drugs will suppress an individual’s mind to such an extent that intrusive entities can no longer exert influence.  And hopefully will come the further realisation that when the drug intake ceases, the mind will gradually clear, and the opening may yet exist for the intrusions to return – i.e. ‘the patient has a relapse’, and may be treated with even stronger anti-psychotic drugs – which can have side-effects that may be far worse than many a ‘conventional’ illness.
In the final pages of my book, I tried to summarise what I saw as the great need for simple understanding of the world of the voice hearer, and the realisation that comprehending the meaning of ‘spiritual’ in its widest sense would shed light into the darkness surrounding many other intractable mental health problems.  This is what I wrote:

“Satellite television has brought to me a fascinating window on a wider world and the opportunities to observe and try to understand, people from a vast range of cultures - people whom one saw previously, if one saw them at all, as ‘performers’ in documentaries or devised programmes, and subject to the presentation and interpretation of the programmes’ compilers.  Now I can watch them completely untainted by the intervening ‘editor interpreter’.  I watch them in their own dramas, chat shows, news bulletins and a variety of presentations and versions of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’  

I look at faces and expressions, moods and reactions, but ‘look’ and ‘watch’ are the two operative words, for apart from sensing the general mood of the piece I have not the slightest idea of what is being said.  When I watch Chinese television there are subtitles – but they also are in Chinese.  I would dearly like to know what Dunia and the people whom she interviews on Abu Dhabi television are discussing, because it appears to be serious and intelligent, but apart from words that sound vaguely like ‘Iraq’ and ‘Arabia’, there is nothing to guide me.  Worse still is a news bulletin when the person being interviewed is speaking English, but is then being talked over and the screen has rolling subtitles all in Arabic.

                The world and outlook of those who are locked into their inner voices is something like this.

  They have their own transmission received inside their head that no one else can hear or comprehend, while, viewed on the screen of life that is going on outside them, they see people, faces expressions, actions, moods and reactions, and try to interpret something that is far off.  Something that is almost unreachable from within a mind and body that are often numbed by the drugs that are meant to make life more bearable (but which often are there solely to ‘contain’ them).  A world with which they find it increasingly difficult to communicate, to such an extent that attempts to do so may be abandoned altogether, especially when the inner world can appear warm and friendly.

                Is it easiest simply to abandon them to their inner world and the companions that frequent it?  An inner world that can be welcoming, friendly, comforting – an inner world that suddenly can spawn terror and threat; create immeasurable anxiety; propose devilish and obscene compacts – compacts that if accepted can bring down an even heavier rain of threat and castigation from the unseen tormentors.  One can go on and on in seemingly endless speculation, and offer insights and advice that may or may not have relevance to an individual – if indeed one knew that the torment was actually there behind the closed door that a life and the face fronting it have become.

                It would be difficult to forget the time when my stable was being re-roofed.  Right to the fore of the action were the two Geordies – Big Derek and Brian.  They came and worked - and worked hard - for ‘readies’, and stayed until about one o’clock when they went off to the King’s Head for a liquid lunch, and then possibly an afternoon fishing off the beach.  

        One morning they came and they were immensely subdued, in fact, for such a big man, it was odd that Derek seemed close to tears.  “Clarry’s topped his self,” said Brian eventually.  Work was pointless, and they went off to the King’s Head for more appropriate solace.  Clarry – or Clarence to give him his Sunday name – had farmed with brother Ronnie, until they had given up the farm.  But farmers never retire, and one met them here and there, as they helped out on other farms - hedging, dykeing, dry-stone walling, hay-timing - or working in people’s gardens.

                Clarry had retired to a cottage beside the main road and I saw him frequently as he worked around a friend’s premises.  This particular morning his daughter had come downstairs, to a fire newly laid in the grate, a cup of tea part drunk and still warm, a sandwich half eaten, and, puzzled, had gone outside to find Clarry hanging.  And no one knew why!  It was over ten years ago, and I don’t think anyone knows to this day.  There in his inner world something had thrown a switch – but he had not been ill that anyone knew about – certainly not mentally.  What was it that Clarry couldn’t talk to anyone about – confide - consult?

                I thought of him in happier times, as for instance, when the local Shepherds’ Meet and a meet of the Black Combe hunt had coincided, and the Brown Cow had been open all day – and Clarry hadn’t wasted a minute.  There he was, well into the evening, a huge turkey drumstick in his hand, beating time to the choruses of the hunting songs, and swaying perilously to and fro, and the picture of him swaying gently at the end of a rope is one that even now I find unbearable.

                I have difficulty revisiting the time when I desperately wanted to die and escape from all that plagued my mind and from the situation that I couldn’t understand but from which I frantically wanted to flee.

                          I wasn’t then hearing voices, but had seemingly insurmountable problems.  Why didn’t I just do it?  As I wrote earlier in my book, it had to appear to be an accident, and I couldn’t devise one that I thought would be convincing.  Relevant to my thoughts about Clarry – I couldn’t talk to anyone, because I couldn’t put my inner agony into words.  I vaguely remember once saying to the Consultant as I attempted to broach the subject, something such as “I wish I had a terminal illness” – thinking that that would be a way out that would not create problems for anyone.  “I suppose you want cancer” he said – and said it with a sneer; nothing else will describe his tone.  I never tried to speak to anyone about it ever again, and I have only recalled the painful times for the purpose of writing to you to help you to understand the torment in the unseen world behind the façade of a face, and a life that is seemingly being ‘lived’ successfully.

‘Writing to you’ – I began to write, it seems, such a long time ago.  Some has come easy; some with the pain of unhappiness and disaster revisited.  I hope that it has been worthwhile in that it may help someone.  I began with the words of the diminutive Brazilian bishop, Dom Helder Camera, from which I get the title of my book, and cannot think of any that are more appropriate with which to end.

Don’t get annoyed
If the people coming to see you,
If the people wanting to talk to you
Can’t manage to express
The uproar raging inside them.

Much more important
Than listening to the words
Is imagining the agonies,
Fathoming the mystery,
Listening to the silences.

*“Listening to the silences” –

Paperback -  ISBN 9781847477590

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