To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. Then one day as she was leaving a seminar she heard a voice in her head for the first time. “She’s leaving!” It said. The voice had arrived and her nightmare began. Soon she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, and discarded. She began to believe that the voice in her head was the problem and she began to fight them. The problem only grew worse and the number of voices multiplied.
It was only with the support of her mother and a few supportive doctors who expressed confidence in her ability to recover that Eleanor began her journey to recovery. A key insight was accepting that the voices were a meaningful response to traumatic life events. The voices were not her enemies, but a source of insight into solvable emotional problems. Soon she was able to get off medication and complete her college education. She has now gone on to complete her Masters in psychology and is working towards her PhD.
In many ways Eleanor is the face of the over-medicalization of mental illness. Psychiatry in recent decades increasingly views mental illness through the lens of brain chemistry. Consequently most treatment is reduced to pushing medication. Eleanor on the other hand is advocating a new approach that goes from asking, “What’s wrong with you?” to “What’s happened to you?”
She is now advocating for people who hear voices in their head and directs them to intevoices.org where they can find help and support. Please pass this along as there are millions of people who suffer from this.