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What do “voices” and “disordered thinking” have in common?

Posted Dec 30 2010 12:00am

I was at a seminar recently where Ron Coleman asserted that the experience of hearing voices may commonly be the cause of what seems to be disordered thinking, so that in fact there may be nothing wrong with a person’s ability to think in an orderly way, it is just that the experience of hearing voices is temporarily disrupting the order of the thinking.   I started wondering if something similar might be going on in the cases of  people who have disordered thinking, but who do not report hearing  voices. (For example, as a young guy, I heard voices only on a few days
 total, but engaged in a lot of “disordered thinking!”)
 
 It occurred to me that one explanation could be that it is having  multiple perspectives that intrude into each other that results in  disordered thinking. These perspectives can manifest just as intrusive  thoughts, or as voices that are heard. 

Of course, an intrusive  perspective is at least metaphorically a “voice” even if it doesn’t have  an auditory component. So the two experiences are not completely  different, just on a continuum. And any human who is confused about an
 issue and is experiencing contradictory perspectives on something may  have some level of “disordered thinking” till it is sorted out. 

I think this way of looking at it normalizes both voices and disordered thinking and offers a suggestion for a way to move toward healing.  That is, as the person becomes more capable of accepting that there is something of value in each perspective, and as the person develops a meta-perspective that incorporates the various contradictory perspectives, the apparent “disorder” may fade away, and the various voices may integrate into smooth functioning.

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