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Articles    H3'ed 9/1/13

Avatars and Hearing Voices Therapy

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Here is another example from Dr. Leff's work:


An example of this is D, the patient with the longest duration of hearing voices: over 30 years. As a child he lived with his mother and two older brothers who bullied him. Their mother went to the pub every evening leaving her sons in the care of an alcoholic man. D heard several different voices, but as we could only work with one voice as an avatar, we asked patients which voice was dominant, or if none was, which voice they would rather be without. D chose the voice of a woman who made sarcastic, unhelpful comments, such as "Playing you and you've been really ill. Insane at least because you're totally out of your skull as well as out of your face'". D said that he believed that the sentences came from thoughts in his head, indicating a considerable degree of insight. Dr. Leff focussed on this during the sessions.


   This reminded me of a woman with whom I worked who had a disembodied voice telling her that she was "a worthless piece of sh*t" and that she should "kill herself so as to stop taking up oxygen and space" that she didn't deserve.   We made a mask for this voice and worked in the way I previously described.   At some point, she had the insight that this voice was that of an aunt who cared for her after her mother died and was very abusive.   She found photographs of her aunt and we revised the mask to look accordingly and began to dialogue with her aunt and no longer a disembodied voice.   This was effective and that particular disembodied voice no longer troubled her as much.   When it did try to turn, she would challenge her aunt to get out of her head.

   All this is very exciting.   Dr. Leff gives us another important tool for working with mean, persecutory voices.   I hope I get to use his software soon.


   During the weekend of September 13-15, I will be at Rowe Conference Center, Rowe, Massachusetts, for a workshop that will be mostly singing, drumming, dancing.   The weekend of October 18-20, we will be teaching Cherokee Bodywork in Hartford, Connecticut.   For details, see and .

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)
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