The politics and power of hearing voices


A lot of voice hearers have voices that are persecutory in nature although it is worth remembering that some people are comfortable with this and some people hear voices without any persecution.

So where does this power come from?  This depends on a number of factors, namely culture, the political climate and the ruling classes, but principally the struggle to use logic to make sense out of something you can’t see.

Sometimes it’s guess work, other times it’s what the voices tell us about who they are, but are they lying?  It’s a logical minefield and takes up a lot of time and energy from the voice hearer.

But generally the voices distinguish themselves as people who have power such as clandestine organisations or people from different dimensions or places like aliens or demons.  And along with these people they have their own way of observing you, the secret service organisations for instance would use physical spyware whereas the demons identify with your consciousness.

This physical “explanation” has not always been around, before the industrial revolution people knew all their neighbours and persecutions would have still been the other dimensional voices but its strange spyware did not exist!  The clandestine organisations would have been the king’s court or clerical in nature.  I don’t know much about voice hearing in medieval times there isn’t much written except perhaps figures like Joan of Arc heard voices.  But that’s another article.

The reason I am writing this for Mad in Ireland is due to a very interesting phenomenon about power figures that exist in Northern Ireland due to violence and bloodshed and real physical persecution.  

A bit of history is needed here.  In the 1960s Roman catholic Irish people were discriminated against and some took up arms to bring about social rights and a united Ireland in the long run.  In response to this two main organisations the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association came about to defend their communities.

There were many murders and all people know someone who was a casualty of this “war.”  Some factions of these groups started to sell drugs and stop others from doing so. Sometimes, they extorted money from businesses and punished people who exhibited anti-social behaviour. And it remains like this to today, these organisations rule their communities with an iron thumb.

Whether these sides were right or wrong is still argued, people don’t tell strangers where they live or what school they went to, people are wary to wander into areas controlled by these people and if you argue or disagree with them they often beat you and sometimes kill you.

This breeds paranoia in most people let alone voice hearers. Suicide rates are around seven a week and makes the mind fertile to hear these people as voices.  

Many voice hearers in Northern Ireland believe they are being stalked by these people as these people exist, in the media and society.  Although these organisations have more influence in lower class areas some of the more well off, voice hearers still believe they are being targeted. They feel they are being followed, bullied and shunned. They hear people outside their houses, and there’s nothing they can do as arguing with them could mean their life.

This activity only exists in Northern Ireland, the war still goes on in people’s minds.  It has hardened and scarred both communities. The mask of a clandestine organisation with no accountability is a very powerful one for the voices to claim – and it exists here today.

Voices are known to be reflections of the culture we grow up in. The border counties around the partitioned six counties that comprise the British jurisdiction in Ireland experienced the sectarian conflict known as ‘the troubles’ from the late 1960’s to the 1990’s, but with less intensity than occurred within the ‘six counties’ or Northern Ireland.  I grew up across the border in County Donegal, in the Irish jurisdiction. We were kept away from the direct ‘troubles’ and from the sectarian hatred and its associated jargon. Though the city of Derry, nine miles as the crow flies from my home village experienced some of the worst of the violence, visitors from there showed us artefacts from the fighting such as rubber and plastic bullets, which the British army used against Derry people from the Republican side, and heard such things as how to make petrol bombs. Though there was a Catholic/Protestant divide in our village, and we went to separate schools for instance, the bitterness between us was never to such an extent as it was across the border.

I started hearing voices/seeing visions in my early twenties. I have experienced these phenomena for 30 years now. Ironically it was only after the conflict ended that the sectarianism started creeping into the make-up of my voices. I sometimes hear the words ‘Hun’ & ‘Taig’. These are derogatory terms for Protestant and Catholic respectively. They are difficult terms to bear, and stressful. I’m not sectarian myself though I hear these voices, and they cause me pain. Since peace came to Ulster the six counties opened up and we travel to the cities of Derry and Belfast more frequently now. It may be that we’ve imbued this cultural sectarianism in the interim. Maybe this process is concomitant with the aftermath of the war, where there is greater interaction between both sides.


  1. I never heard ‘voices’ myself even though the doctor in 1980 tried to make out I did – by representing the normal social thought inside my head, as a ‘hallucination’ outside of my head. This doctor committed suicide in October of 1999.

    I imagine persecutory ‘voices’ to be designed to negatively preoccupy a person. A solution might be to concentrate on the physical effects of the experience – to ‘anchor’ the mind and ‘process’ the feelings.


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