5-10% of people have had a voice in their head other than their own.
If at least one out of every twenty people has had a voice in their head other than their own… why don’t we ever hear about it from friends or family? Probably because people are afraid of being labeled insane. Contrary to what we see in movies, most people who hear voices aren’t being told to kill or set things on fire. Often times the voices just narrate or comment on whatever the person happens to be doing. All too often these people are forced into hospitals after telling someone about the voices, given excessive medication, and put under such stressful conditions that even additional voices, including demonic voices, can develop as a result (read about Eleanor Londgen’s story).
A more modern approach to treating schizophrenia is to allow the person (and even psychiatrist) to acknowledge and interact with the voices. Instead of trying to avoid them, they face them, understand them, and try to negotiate a more positive relationship with them. Since voices may be a manifestation of a troubled subconscious, it makes sense that allowing them to be heard and dealt with can help someone overcome deeply rooted personal issues.
Side note: I heard on a “Stuff You Should Know” podcast last month that recent studies have shown minor doses of drugs such as LSD and ecstasy can be extremely affective in treating schizophrenia patients. These drugs were often used in therapy in the 1950s and 60s before they were regulated. In one study, half of chronic alcoholics given a single dose of LSD treatment were able to cure their alcoholism. Heroin addicts were also successful at curing their addictions through LSD treatment. Scientists still don’t fully understand the affect of these drugs on the brain, but many of the dangers associated with certain drugs have been shown to be gross exaggerations. It doesn’t surprise me that they may be less harmful (and more effective) at treating certain psychological disorders than medications being used today.