Can we change the content of the voices in people’s heads?

Occasionally something appears on the zeitgeist that is novel.

This is paradigm shifting work from T. M. Luhrman, an anthropologist from Stanford University. The work is particularly important today as we are struggling as a society to deal with the aftermath of so many incidents involving mass violence and mental illness. Luhrman is finding a correlation between one’s culture and the types of voices people with schizophrenia report hearing. She found a difference in the content of auditory hallucinations between people from India and the United States.

“in our sample of 20 comparable cases from each country, the voices heard by patients in Chennai are considerably less violent than those heard by patients in San Mateo, Calif. These observations suggest that local culture may shape the way people with schizophrenia pay attention to the complex auditory phenomena generated by the disorder.”

OK, this is a small sample but the premise makes intuitive sense to me.

My conclusion – If we can create a more peaceful culture we can change the types of voices people hear.  Our focus should be less about fixing individual pathology through therapies and psychotropic medications and more about changing the culture in order to cultivate less violent and more hopeful expressions.


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