Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice What Your Patient is Thinking

Learning to live with hearing voices

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 31 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2018
  1. Emily Knoll

Emily Knoll discusses the therapeutic interventions that have helped her come to terms with hearing voices

It was after undergoing spinal surgery, and when I felt that I was going down a black hole with my doctorate, that I began to hear distressing voices that seemed to come from outside my head. I was embarrassed by the things that the voices were saying to me, so I didn’t tell anyone. I also thought that if I told a doctor, I would be sent to a psychiatric hospital. So, instead of seeking help, I dropped out of university.

Two years later I experienced what I now understand to have been a psychotic breakdown. Sometimes it felt as if two men and a spiteful woman were actually there, in my room. I held my breath and listened.

“Emily is waiting for us to disappear,” said the woman cruelly.

“We’re not going away,” the man with the brittle …

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