Toronto’s hearing voices cafe has now been running for eight months, attended by over 100 different people.

You might think that if a person hears voices then they must have a broken brain or wobbly brain chemicals or …
Its time to think again.

Hearing voices has become a taboo in our culturee and society, yet most of us will hear a voice others don’t at least once – typically around times of stress, loss of loved one’s etc. Why don we hear abnout that? well, where would you talk about it without fear?

Research shows that about three in four of us will have at least one such experience of hearing a voice others don’t – in one study 48% of married people said they heard, saw, otherwise sensed the presence of their deceased spouse; in another even 38% of medical students said they had heard a voice others hadn’t.

The majority of people who hear voices are fine with their experience – either not troubled by it or have even come to regard it as valuable.

In some cultures it is those who don’t hear voices who are cause for concern. Even in our culture there are many successful people who hear voices.

Yes, some people do suffer and research shows that individuals who have endured adverse experiences, and especially in early years, and who have then been left to deal with it by themselves are many times more likely to suffer than those who had different experience.

In general about 10% of us will have some kind of voice-hearing experience – that’s about 700,000,000 people.

Put another way, that’s about as common as left handedness which, until not too long ago was also regarded as a problem to be eradicated.

Hearing voices is not an illness, it’s an experience. You might be surprised who does hear voices – or did. By far the majority of people who hear voices are fine with their experience – even if they think it a bit odd, and keep it secret.

Yes, some people do struggle, maybe that’s in part because as a society we’ve done such a great job training each other to believe that it is exclusive result of broken brain and an untreatable illness.

Maybe, just maybe if we had places to talk about taboo experiences like hearing voices, visions, other experiences we’re afraid of, then more people who do struggle would be able to make sense of their experiences and more would find it easier to connect with the support they need.

What limits our freedom is the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell each other. It’s high time we had a new story. That’s the why behind the  Hearing Voices Cafe.

Come join us, join a different conversation today at 6pm at the Coffee And All That Jazz in 72 Howard Park Avenue Toronto Roncesvalles / Howard Park Ave. Streetcars: 506 College, 501 King, 505 Dundas.

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