Case Study: Eliminating Schizophrenic 'Voices' by Healing Prenatal Trauma
© 2007 by Dr. Grant McFetridge of The Institute for the Study of Peak States
"This Case Study was originally published in Positive Health (PH) magazine, Issue 138 August 2007 - www.positivehealth.com."
This article briefly describes a radical, new psychological treatment (the Silent Mind Technique™) that eliminates the most common type of 'voices' that many schizophrenics suffer from. The treatment also eliminates most ordinary 'mind chatter' in healthy, average population groups.
Dry recital of fact and technique do not carry the emotional impact of the suffering that the 'hearing voices' problem causes people, nor the change that occurs when it is eliminated. Below is a description of what happened to Gina Chick in Australia when she used the Silent Mind Technique™ on herself on a Peak States Therapist training course. She wrote the following description about a year after she underwent the treatment:
"So you’re wondering about the silent mind process?
"Before I had the process done, the inside of my mind was noisier than my 1988 university lodgings. Imagine about thirty drunk students camped out in the lounge room of your mind, yelling at each other while watching bad daytime TV, with the stereo blaring at the same time. Oh yeah, and they’re all chewing pizza with their mouths open. Loudly. Imagine trying to study, work, live, love, relate and sleep in the middle of that.
"Welcome to the first thirty-six years of my life.
"Getting to sleep was torment. I‘ve been an insomniac since I was a small child. My mind would race, churn and wind back, chattering to itself all the way. It would talk itself into countless loops. I’d eventually drift into a broken half-sleep and wake heavy, listless and unrested.
"I am a bodyworker, and anyone in the healing arts will tell you that being present is an important part of the healing process. But for me being present meant hanging out with the noisy students in their non stop party. So I developed an ability to split the awareness of my mind and body so my mind could chatter away to itself while my body got on with doing the work. I am still amazed my clients achieved any results, considering I was barely there most of the time.
"An intensive healing search brought me to a Peak States Therapist workshop in Jan 2006, where I underwent the Silent Mind Technique™.
"The process worked.
"I cannot even begin to convey what it was like to lie there with my mind echoing to a beautiful cathedral-like silence. For the first time in my life, I could hear the radiant emptiness of peace. I wept. ‘They’re gone. They’re gone.’ I wept some more.
"I didn’t want to believe it at first in case it was a cruel trick, but no matter how hard I searched the corners of my mind, there were no voices. The students had been evicted. All that was left were a few empty pizza boxes.
"I walked around in wonder, listening to the silence outside, the leaves whispering against each other, so distinct, so clear. I reckoned if I listened long enough I could hear the moon.
"I haven’t stopped smiling, and it was a year ago.
"The quality of my life has completely transformed. I am unrecognizable. I sleep. Oh, goodness, how blissful is it to say that and mean it. I sleep.
"The healing work I’ve been doing has changed profoundly; not only have I incorporated some of the Peak States therapy techniques, but the level of presence I bring to each session now is solid and silent. Clients are achieving results I couldn’t dream of a year ago.
"Thank you for the precious gift of silence."
Textbooks will tell you that schizophrenia affects roughly 1% of the total population. Although there are a number of identifying symptoms in diagnostic manuals, researchers do not know if the symptoms are from one disease, related diseases, or totally unrelated causes. However, they do know that one symptom stands out - the majority of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia "hear voices". In fact, many and perhaps most of the people who hear voices have no other sign of mental incapacity. Essentially, aside from the distraction and frustration of being forced to listen to the equivalent of non-stop daytime soap operas, these people are otherwise perfectly normal. In the UK, the 'Hearing Voices Network' provides support for people who are in this situation.1
Empirically, we've found that there are several unrelated causes for the 'hearing voices' phenomenon. Surprisingly, the most common and disruptive of the underlying mechanisms for this problem in schizophrenics is also found in virtually everyone2. However, it goes unrecognized in the general population, and is simply thought of as 'thinking', or 'mind chatter'. It can be easily noticed during meditation as the distracting thoughts that come up as one is trying to focus on the practice. Thus, the difference between most people who hear 'voices' and a typical, average person is only one of degree, not of kind. The typical person can suppress or ignore his mind chatter - a schizophrenic who 'hears voices' cannot.
In practice, we focus on eliminating the most disruptive and common aspect of the mind chatter problem, which we call 'autonomous' mind chatter. In our training, our therapy students are required to heal this issue in themselves as practice before going on for further training. After working with well over 100 students, we have yet to see anyone who doesn't have this issue to at least some degree. This is very fortunate; because the therapists can run the process on themselves and experience the same change that their clients will have, and know from personal experience that the theoretical model we use actually works. When finished, the person who has used the process finds that his or her mind is very quiet, with the sensation that one is standing on an empty, silent stage. Although quite noticeable at first, this silence becomes 'normal' and unnoticed, typically within a few weeks to a few months. Meditators are particularly pleased with this new and permanent absence of distracting thoughts.
Underlying Prenatal Biological Mechanisms
In work done over a decade ago, we discovered that the 'autonomous' mind chatter problem was caused by a certain type of prenatal trauma. This discovery was considered extremely controversial and rejected by the organizations that we contacted because they believed that schizophrenia was caused by a strictly biochemical problem. Recently, the field has started to change - several key studies of schizophrenics have now also shown that the disease has its basis in prenatal trauma.3
Although effective, our initial process for eliminating mind chatter was difficult and time consuming to implement, and required significant training in the people undergoing the process. Clearly, this was not optimum for a schizophrenic client base. About five years ago, we made another breakthrough and came up with a far simpler and faster technique, which worked with a single, far earlier developmental trauma to eliminate the problem. Fortunately, this new process can be easily used with schizophrenic client populations.
Available Treatment Centers
As of this writing, we have a treatment center at our main office in British Columbia, Canada. We hope to have therapists trained in our Silent Mind Technique™ in the UK, Australia, Germany and Poland within the next year. We are also pioneering a fairly radical new treatment model - our certified therapists only charge for results, so there is no charge if the treatment isn't successful.
About the author
Grant McFetridge is author of Peak States of Consciousness: Theory and Applications, and founder of the Institute for the Study of Peak States (ISPS). His work on the relationship between prenatal stages and exceptional states of consciousness has resulted in new approaches for schizophrenia, addictions, multiple sclerosis and autistic spectrum disorders. For further information visit www.peakstastes.com.
- "Hearing Voices Network" in the UK at www.hearing-voices.org.
- Verdoux H and van Os J. Psychotic symptoms in non-clinical populations and the continuum of psychosis. Schizophrenia Research 54:1-2, pp. 59-65. March 2002.
- van Os J and Selten JP. Prenatal exposure to maternal stress and subsequent schizophrenia: The May 1940 invasion of the Netherlands. British Journal of Psychiatry 172:324-326. 1998.
© Copyright 2007 by Grant McFetridge