Applications of Jaynes' Theory to Help Voice Hearers?

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's second hypothesis - the bicameral mind, specifically the subtopic of schizophrenia and schizophrenia as a vestige of the bicameral mind.
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Applications of Jaynes' Theory to Help Voice Hearers?

Post by Iuval »

Is anyone aware of such applications? My partner is a voice hearer and I would like to help her. So here are some other questions fleshing out the first one:

1. What are the possible specific physiological differences in her brain that are responsible for her voices? Corpus Collossum abnormalities? Whatever the-anterior-Wernicke-connecting-region-is-called abnormalities? Right brain hyperactivity (she is very intuitive, sensitive and artistic)?

2. Are there non-invasive tests to see which of these are responsible?

3. Can they be treated (without compromising her artistic sensitivity)?

Of course the question is more general than about my partner, as there are many voice hearers apparently (I had no idea till I met her).

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Re: applications of Jaynes' theory to help voice hearers?

Post by Moderator »

The short answer unfortunately is no. I do have some detailed ideas for a Jaynesian-inspired intervention for auditory hallucinations but currently don't have the funding to develop it.

To answer your other questions:

1. Based on everything I've read, I can say that most likely what is happening is an activation of the language areas of the non-dominant hemisphere. (For example, see Chapter 11, "Auditory Verbal Hallucinations and Langauge Lateralization" by Kelly Diederen and Iris E.C. Sommer in Language Lateralization and Psychosis.)

2. The non invasive test would be an fMRI scan while she was experiencing an auditory hallucination.

3. It depends on what you mean by treatment. The pharmaceutical interventions are pretty crude and generally come with a lot of undesirable side effects. Depending on the frequency and obtrusiveness of the voices, and whether or not there are other issues (delusions, paranoia, etc.), many people find they are better off managing them on their own. See for example the Auditory Hallucinations playlist on the Julian Jaynes Society YouTube channel: ... 0B299E7207, in particular the first video, called "Voices Matter."

The more voice hearers I've spoken with, and the more I've read about auditory hallucinations in particular, mental illness in general, as well as brain chemistry/biology, and overall health and nutrition, the more I've come to feel that in some cases the symptoms can be at least somewhat mitigated or even adequately managed without pharmaceuticals. This is not to say that this would necessarily be the case for everyone, or even the majority of people. Some voice hearers, while they aren't necessarily able to entirely get rid of their voices, are able to develop a more harmonious relationship with them, in some cases even coming to see them as a valuable source of insight.

The state of treatment for auditory hallucinations is still frustratingly crude. But if your partner is not the type of person that is content to take a passive approach, I think there are some things she can do. Short of developing the protocol I alluded to above, for what it's worth, this is the five part plan I would adopt if I were experiencing intrusive auditory hallucinations (Please note: none of this should be construed as medical advice):

1. Optimize Nutrition. Adopt a primarily plant-based diet high in a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Limit animal protein, dairy products, refined carbohydrates (white flour, candy, added sugars, sugary drinks, diet sodas, etc.), and processed food. Take a high quality omega-3 supplement and multivitamin daily. Work with a doctor to explore possible vitamin deficiencies. Take high quality probiotics - cutting edge research suggests a gut-brain connection and successful treatment of mental illnesses by optimizing healthy gut bacteria. Make unsweetened green tea your primary drink.

For some it may sound impossible, but if you make one change per week, it's surprising how fast one can adopt healthier habits. For more specifics see The Ultra Mind Solution by Mark Hyman, The End of Dieting by Joel Furhman, Power Foods for the Brain by Neal Barnard, The Spectrum by Dean Ornish, etc.

2. Limit Stress. We know stress hormones are implicated in voice hearing, and while it's easier said than done, over time one can often find ways to greatly reduce stress by saying no to new obligations, adjusting living and work situations, etc. Take up yoga and make a habit of meditating daily.

3. Get Plenty of Sleep. It sounds almost cliché, but most people aren't getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep per night, which in turn negatively affects stress hormone levels. Make quality sleep a priority.

4. Get Active. Get a pedometer and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Walking 2-3 times a day for 20-30 minutes is usually enough (preferably outside, to increase Vitamin D levels), but more is better. See Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey.

5. Join A Local Support Group. Look up the Hearing Voices Network. If there is not a local chapter, consider starting one. Social support can be highly beneficial. The Hearing Voices Network advocates accepting one's voices, and offers strategies for developing a more harmonious relationship with them, as completely getting rid of the voices is often not a realistic goal.

I believe this gets oneself back in line with how our bodies and brains evolved to operate. I think the dramatic increases in mental and physical illnesses we're seeing in Western countries are in large part due to poor diet, high stress, inadequate sleep, lack of physical activity/a sedentary lifestyle, and in some cases lack of social connections.

In any case, that’s what I would do, or basically what I'm currently doing, but for more general health/longevity reasons. It certainly can’t hurt and will have a wide range of health benefits. The cumulative effect could help reduce the voices, as we've seen at least anecdotal evidence of a reduction in hallucinations accompanying reduced stress (many articles on this), addressing nutritional ("Nutrition and schizophrenia: beyond omega-3 fatty acids") and vitamin deficiencies (for example Abram Hoffer's "Orthomolecular Treatment," etc.), greater physical activity ("Exercise therapy for schizophrenia"), etc.

I hope that helps. Please keep us posted on how things are going.
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Re: Applications of Jaynes' Theory to Help Voice Hearers?

Post by Iuval »

Thanks. I will pass this on to her. She is already doing part of it. She is also peri-menopausal and having insomnia, and is trying to figure out how to deal with that. We might try estrogen supplements (or patches).
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