Friend or Foe?

Continuing education classes continue even during a pandemic. Everything is online of course. I do miss the in-person classes, especially the visual art form of Abstract Hostess Etiquette displayed on a long table near the door. I always like to see what someone came up with. They might have a continental breakfast, with the row of hospitality-sized coffee pots, labeled “coffee”, “decaf”, and “hot water”, a bowl of ice with creamer dropped in the middle of it, those little paper cups, and a tray of crumbly cookies that will litter your top and lap.

don’t eat the cookies; they’re dangerous. Photo by Jason Jarrach on Unsplash

These are classes many jobs require workers to take to help keep folks up to date and skills sharpened. Goodtherapy.com says, ‘As continuing education supports lifelong learning, it helps ensure mental health professionals remain curious and critical thinkers who are well-equipped to provide quality care for their clients.’

I’m currently learning about caregiving for individuals with behavioral health issues such as psychotic, bipolar, addictive and personality disorders, PTSD, alcoholism, and suicidality. While processing the material one afternoon, my brain began to think about the condition of diagnosed Schizophrenia. It is considered a psychotic disorder characterized by delusion and/or hallucinations. The psychosis can also be caused by bipolar disorder, depression, trauma, and drugs, usually temporary. Here is the important part—-> It is generally considered Schizophrenia if the voices or hallucinations are benevolent or encourage violent thoughts or action.

A delusion is a belief that does not fit reality. They tend to be unshakable, unarguable, and unchangeable by the person experiencing them. A hallucination is a disturbance in perception, such as seeing and hearing things that others don’t see or hear.

What caught my attention are recent studies about brain activity during an auditory hallucination episode. Brain imaging shows that both Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area (speech production and hearing) are active during auditory hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations are real. Limited to being heard only inside the person’s head. It is not their imagination. The same activity is present when we are having a conversation with a real person. It is a brain defect possibly caused by the overproduction of dopamine or the insufficient supply of glutamate signaling. With time and counseling, a person with Schizophrenia can learn to tell if a voice is someone in the room or being generated inside their brain. The training on this condition ended with a note, “It is the person’s discomfort that should guide the treatment, and whether or not the voices are helpful or harmful.

Custom Fit Spirits

It’s interesting to me that there are classes and books to help people find certain desirable voices, such as, well the Voice of God. If you’re going to add a voice why not go big, right? Christians, for example, may attend a class to learn how to identify the voice of the Holy Spirit. I’ll give you a hint, it never tells you to do anything that is not in the bible. Easy right?

Learning how to recognize the voice of your Spirit Guide is important to some people. An article, “How to Connect with Your Spirit Guides”, in Goop came up with these helpful hints that involve leaving your body and jumping up to the astral plane to visit them.

Spirit guides exist in the realm of infinite possibilities and are not confined by time or space. There is no limit to what they can do for us. In fact, the more they help us, the more they ascend. I encourage my students to assign at least three tasks to their guides before parting ways. Spirit guides can help with anything big—divorce, health concerns. Or small—like parking spaces, or motivation to do the dishes or go to work.

Then there are some people who do not have an internal monologue. NO VOICE inside their head. This is difficult for me to comprehend, but apparently, it’s true. There is no “middle-man” between thought and choice of action/no action. “…Additionally, not everyone has a verbal internal monologue. The looser flow of thoughts and experiences, verbal or not, is called a stream of consciousness, which can also refer to a related technique in literature.” (Wikipedia)

It seems there are some people who have voices in their minds that don’t want them, others who seek out new voices and then a few that have no conversation going on at all between the ears. This little study of internal dialogue has been interesting. I have no answers, but I do have new insights. Violent voices, self talk that brings you down should not be given energy to form into action. If you have a friend who mentions troublesome voices they should connect with their doctor about it. In the meantime, you can say, “that must be difficult. I’m here if you need someone to talk to.” In this time of social distancing, we can all listen and talk with each other. Support yourself and your friends with helpful conversation.

Here is my current mood expressed in a meme. Take care -Shannon


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735817300946#:~:text=Negative%20voices%20were%20reported%20by,influence%20the%20need%20for%20care.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_monologue#:~:text=Additionally%2C%20not%20everyone%20has%20a,a%20related%20technique%20in%20literature.

cover Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Published by

Shannon Laws

Like my writing? Want to hear me read my poetry? Of course, you do. Please visit https://chickadeeproductions.bandcamp.com/releases and download some today. Only $1.00 a poem! Shannon Laws is a Pacific Northwest poet, voice-over talent, and podcast producer. She is the author of four poetry books, the most recent “Fallen” published by Independent Writer’s Studio Press. Shannon has received two Mayor’s Arts Awards and the Community Champion Award. She makes her home in Bellingham, Washington, USA.

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