Stop Arguing with the Voices

Although the title of this post can be made hysterical by implications, I’m actually referring to voices *not* related to multiplicity.  I’m referring to those haunting disembodied voices that tend to frequent my psychotic periods.  They have been most problematic lately, and my therapist suggested a seemingly simple technique that has actually worked:  stop arguing.

No, really.  Think about the physiological concept of arguing.  When you argue, your temper tends to flare.  This leads to racing pulse, shallow breathing, dilated eyes, increased muscle tension, et c.  In other words, it brings about the fight-or-flight response.  This directs your entire focus to the voice(es), which become more and more real.  You begin to argue with the voices, as any good opponent in a strange debate would do, thereby justifying their position in your life at that time.  Your focus is on those disembodied voices by then.  You’re listening for them acutely and readying your defence.  You’re in a state of panic, on edge and waiting for the next comment that will need refuting.

So what happens if you simply do not argue?  In my recent experience, the voices stop, even if only for a moment.  My disembodied voices tend to bring up horrific images and assert that I *will* have to see or do the things they are explaining.  This reads directly in to my trauma background, of course, but it is a symptom unto itself, as well.  After a somewhat heated therapy session yesterday, I came away with the idea of thanking the psychotic voice for bringing my attention to a concern and then reality testing.  A somewhat innocuous example:

External Person:  Wow, the weather has been terrible lately!

Disembodied Voice:  See?  The weather is becoming more violent.  You’re gonna see that violence.  The whole world is becoming violent, and you’re gonna see all the death and destruction.

Me (silently):  Thank you for drawing my attention to this connection that I’m making.  I can cope with the violent weather.  If I see violence in the world, I might feel bad about it for a while, but I won’t be responsible, and I’ll get past whatever I see.

Voice: Bollocks.  She got me again.

Ok, I’m only imagining the last line.  I do hope, however, that the voice leaves with a little indignation.  What’s a psychotic argument without a little whimsy?

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