Six to fifteen per cent of all people hear voices at some point in their lives. Many of those who hear voices even live with their invisible companions all their lives.
Well over half of these people are mentally healthy and live a totally normal life. And yet people who hear voices are still stigmatised. For this reason, only few of
them speak openly about their experiences. The historical period in which hearing voices was not culturally recognised was relatively short, however: Hildegard von Bingen
stated that all of her knowledge about healing came from visionary voices; Joan of Arc, Giordano Bruno, Rainer Maria Rilke, Winston Churchill,
Virginia Woolf and Andy Warhol all heard voices.
What explanation does science have for this phenomenon of hearing voices? Where do the voices come from? While hearing voices was, especially in the last centuries, considered a symptom of a malfunction of the brain, researchers today are shedding new light on this old phenomenon – and unearthing some amazing facts: brain scanners reveal that hearing voices is not a product of the “imagination”; those who hear voices are really “hearing” something. And in many cases the content of what is heard is a lot more significant than previously supposed.
Three people who hear voices and have broken their silence prove that experiences are very varied: Inner voices can be perceived as agonising or as a gift, inspiration and bliss. Sound engineer Jennifer Siedler was shown a way out of a personal crisis by the voices she heard; actor Rolf Fahrenkrog-Petersen found that his voices helped him process a traumatised childhood; Dr Eleanor Longden now even researches the hearing of voices at the University of Liverpool. She’s been hearing voices for the last 10 years, and is involved with “Intervoice”, a worldwide network of people who hear voices, as well as therapists and researchers from 26 countries on five continents.
Documentary / XD CAM HD / 52 min. / 16:9 / English and German with English subtitles / Radio Bremen / ARTE 2016Special thanks to:
Weltvertrieb: Global Screen
Dr Eleanor Longden has spoken about her experiences publicly for several years.
Sound engineer Jennifer Siedler was shown a way out of a personal crisis by the voices she heard; here she is trying Neurofeedback.
Brain scans reveal that hearing voices is not a product of the “imagination”; those who hear voices are really “hearing” something.
With experts Prof Dr phil Peter Brugger, neuropsychologist, and Dr Marco Piccirelli, physicist, UniversitätsSpital Zürich …
… and Prof Dr Dorothea von Haebler, psychiatrist; IPU und Charité Berlin.
Actor Rolf Fahrenkrog-Petersen found that his voices helped him process a traumatised childhood – here he is staging his voices:
Prof Dr Peter Kinderman, psychologist, University of Liverpool
Prof Dr Richard Bentall, psychologist, with Dr Eleanor Longden, University of Liverpool
Dr Dr Walter von der Lucadou, physicist and psychologist, Parapsychologische Beratungsstelle Freiburg
Dr Charles Heriot-Maitland, psychologist, King’s College London, with Dr Eleanor Longden, University of Liverpool
Susanne Schmid-Grether, dipl. Neurofeedbacktherapist, Zurich
Science Journalists Award, WORLD HEALTH SUMMIT 2016
DGPPN Medienpreis für Wissenschaftsjournalismus 2016
Documentary / XD CAM HD / 52 min. / 16:9 / English and German with English subtitles / Radio Bremen / ARTE 2016
Producer, director and screenwriter: A. Krug-Metzinger
camera: Benno Soukup, Bernd Meiners
sound: Ruth Reeh-Georgi, Janine Jembere
film editing: Birgit Hemmerling
music: André Feldhaus
design: Markus Holzum
executive editor: Mechtild Lehning
A production of Bremedia Produktion GmbH On behalf of Radio Bremen In cooperation with ARTE
world distribution: Global Screen