Listening to the Silences


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In a World of Hearing Voices
By Roy Vincent

ISBN: 978-1-84747-472-8
Published: 2007
Pages: 280
Key Themes: hearing voices, “schizophrenia”, spiritual nature, autobiography, self-help, hope



For twenty-eight years, I have been experiencing inner voices and physical presences in ways that would normally induce the label ‘schizophrenic’ – except that I have never been ill from this cause.

This is how it all began:

A ‘presence’ that I could not see, moved from the space in front of me, into me, and immediately my mind was charged with another ‘voice’ or provoker of thoughts, thoughts over which, then, I had no control, and which were not initiated by me. In my head began conversation as between two separate people, one of whom was me.
I began to hear voices.

This book is part autobiography, part DIY Manual, and so…

…if you are being engulfed in the quicksands of your mind, if you are calling for help in the silence of your mind, if you cannot silence the voices that invade your mind, dominate and torment you, if you are caring for someone who is struggling within the morass that their mind has become…

…if you are any of these, then I am writing for you.

About the Author

Born in South Wales, I spent my early years there, apart from four years service in the Royal Navy. In 1950, I graduated from the University of Wales with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and immediately began work at the Sellafield Nuclear Plant, where I spent all of my working life, my most memorable post being as Senior Instrument Engineer in the Calder Hall Nuclear Power Station.

I retired early, and began an entirely new life developing my smallholding, and my interest in horses. Quite by chance, and following a seemingly innocent investigation and an interest in dowsing, a situation developed from which I began to hear voices and experience a wide range of allied phenomena. That was in 1979, and to this day I have never been free from intrusions into my mind, or from intruding presences. YES – INTRUSIONS. Because of what I was doing at the time, and from all that has followed, I have not the smallest shadow of doubt that my experiences result from spiritual intrusion into my mind and body. I have never been ill from this cause, although there have been difficult times.

My purpose in writing is to inform and encourage – yes, to encourage those who are troubled by voices to believe that they can regain control of their minds and thoughts, and to help them to do so.

Book Extract

It was a dark, wet and miserable evening just two days before Christmas, and I was attempting to muck-out the stable that adjoined my house. But just as if I had lived through an episode from one of the tales of the Brothers Grimm, my mind and body had been intruded into, and my actions had been harried and im-peded by malign ‘entities’, ‘spirits’, ‘imps’ – call them what you will. Have no doubt, they were real and not the product of a fevered imagination, nor, yet, the result of drink or drugs, for I use neither. Nevertheless, and in spite of all of that, I finally got my mare, Bokhara, installed in her stable and dried and fed – in the midst of what varied thoughts I cannot remember. Although I have no doubt that I was being forced to concentrate upon aspects of my moral life, and my fitness for a life of improving spirituality. Let me again emphasise, there was nothing in my moral life, past or present, with which I could reproach myself to any signifi-cant extent; but somehow, everything was trawled, examined, and even the most minor peccadillo could, in my then state of mind, be made to seem to be an enormous ‘sin’. Gradually, the whole thrust of the ‘catechism’ and analysis wound around the ‘Christmas story’, and subtly, and by allusion, around all past relation-ships with my late parents. Any misunderstandings, any ‘wish lists’, were ex-tracted within the ‘Holy Family’ context, as if my parents were near at hand and conscious of all that was transpiring. Yet again, the wheel turned and there was being stoked a feeling that I should go to the local church on Christmas Eve, but only to stand outside, not being fit to proceed to join the ‘good’ people inside. It all sounds so ludicrous as I write it down, and I do so solely to show how ones sense of proportion could be made to be so distorted as to accept such domi-nance as reality.

What next I remember, is going into the storeroom side of the stable to get some hay to fill the manger. Before I could start to cut the strings of the bale, I found myself forced down onto it on my knees, and made to stare down-wards. But it was not to look at the assorted feed bags and twine that I would have expected to see. No, I looked into a void, but not a void. Picture the most drear, cold landscape of your imagination. I was in a narrow steep-sided valley, and it was grey, and cold. A white, snow covered landscape has some charm, but not this that I saw. The wind blown, snow blown terrain and scree were so grey and lifeless; not a plant grew; not a creature moved; not a bird flew – and it was soundless. There upon my back was a great weight of ice, as if the whole of a glacier lay there, bearing me down. I was so utterly cold and alone, and I knew inside me that this could go on and on and on for ever. But in spite of that, I could muster the shadow of a wry smile, for I knew that this could in fact be a state that knowingly I had chosen, for, in essence, I was being shown what Hell could be. What I was seeing and feeling would be the equivalent of having once known and experienced the warmth of Divine love, and then of having rejected it deliberately – given it a derisive gesture – in full knowledge of what I was doing; and the remembrance of what I had lost by my rejection would be with me for eternity with no chance of recall.

I have no knowledge of how long my ‘vision’ lasted, though lasted it did, sufficiently to have stayed with me unabated for over twenty-eight years. Nevertheless, gradually the warmth returned and I was eased to my feet as my benumbed knees regained their function. And so, standing comfortably again, I turned and looked out over the half stable door. The clouds had cleared, and the sky was full of stars. So full of stars. And the reality of Christmas, and the limit-less and unique love that it had brought into the world, swept over me.

~ ~ ~

Most people are familiar with the idea of ‘voices’ within the mind – ‘hearing voices’ – but far more insidious, and possibly ever present, is the mute physical ‘overlap’ or intrusion into one’s body. Try to imagine a not quite exact ‘fit’, so that in every movement or reaction one makes there is just the little bit of antici-pation or lag; of speeding up when it is inappropriate; of not being quite in phase on a turn; of causing forward movement when there are obstacles to be negoti-ated – whether by deliberate intent or lack of ‘skill’ it is impossible to say. When the presence is continuous, or frequently in and out, it can become positively loathsome and one longs to be rid of it. If you have a copy, read in the Thousand and One Nights the story of the Old Man of the Sea. Sinbad, shipwrecked and alone as usual, stumbles across an old man who asks for his help to cross a stream. Sinbad, in his kindness, takes the old man on his back, and then, when the stream is crossed, finds himself in a stranglehold; beaten about the head, made to go this way and that, by day and night, at the old man’s whim; be-skittered and be-pissed all down his back and generally befouled. It is only ulti-mately by making some wine from wild grapes and getting the man drunk that Sinbad is finally freed, and one can sense the ultimate release as he crushes the man’s skull with a boulder. Many times have I wished for that boulder!

It is possible from one’s own reactions to these presences to understand how it is that individuals will harm themselves in an effort to get at or get rid of this gross intrusion that is only reachable within their own body.


6 reviews for Listening to the Silences

  1. Annie Borthwick, B.A., Lay Chapl Independent Psychiatric Hospita (verified owner)

    Roy Vincent’s book presents a challenge to all those who would pathologise the surpris-ingly common experience of voice-hearing. He writes an articulate and moving account of the way this phenomenon has affected his life, and offers an alternative model that should make all of us sit up and take note. Leave your prejudices at the door and come into Vincent’s world with an open mind and heart. You won’t be disappointed!
    Annie Borthwick, B.A., Lay Chaplain, Independent Psychiatric Hospital.

  2. Pamela Anita Lyons, Writer, IHolistic Therapist and Outreach (verified owner)

    Speculation, hypothesis and theoretical analysis are as nothing when set against genuine personal experience.
    This book is wholly the product of the Author’s profound experiences and his determination to share them with other voice-hearers and with those who care for them.
    You will find that it is written with the observation and clarity that come from the mind of an engineer, but with the use and love of language that undoubtedly originate in his native Wales.
    Pamela Anita Lyons, Writer, Holistic Therapist and Outreach Sector Teacher.

  3. ‘Hearing Voices Network’ Manchester (verified owner)

    Roy Vincent – ‘Listening to the Silences’
    A courageous and compelling account of how one man lost and found himself again by refusing to accept his experience as schizophrenia. Roy Vincent’s book is a vivid de-scription of his experience of hearing voices. It is a well-written account of his explanation for the startling and unexpected events that began for him 28 years ago.
    He writes: ‘I have never been free from intrusions into my mind, or from intruding presences’, yet also he says ‘I have never been ill from this cause, although there have been difficult times… I open part of my life with reluctance, but with hope that you will benefit… ‘
    The book is fascinating and out of the ordinary; and although it is part autobiography, it is also part DIY Manual. It is a plea for self-acceptance, something that psychiatric ser-vices and the medical model of voice-hearing take away from people far too frequently, thereby rendering them powerless.
    Roy offers this pertinent advice to his readers: ‘My advice to you is to decide for yourself just who you are, and to do all in your power to be yourself. Hold on to your own identity, and strive for your own goals. It took me a long time and much hard work to recover my own life and identity after I had been robbed of them’.
    His purpose in writing is to inform and encourage – to encourage those who are troubled by voices to believe that they can regain control of their minds and thoughts, and to help them to do so.
    From ‘Hearing Voices Network’, Manchester.

  4. Janice Savage, B.A., A.L.A. Ex-Librarian (verified owner)

    This book is a lucid and compelling account of the non-self-induced physical, mental and spiritual suffering undergone by the Author for many years, and its eventual alleviation.
    While deeply involved in the traumas such as invasion by occult ‘entities’, hearing voices and enduring harrowing schizophrenia, he was gradually able to stand aside from the condition and to utilise his active enquiring mind, first-class training as an engineer and experiences in the Second World War, to analyse and describe what had happened to him, and why.
    While working through the lengthy recovery process, he became aware of the effects of natural phenomena such as electric currents, water flow, atmospheric pressure and the effect of the moon and planets on human beings, not in an astrological sense, but as actual, though unseen, forces. Also studied by him were man-made transmitters of radiation and the constituents and effects of prescribed medicinal drugs.
    This book was written both as therapy for himself and as a means of sharing his experi-ences with others who might be similarly affected, offering encouragement and constructive advice. It is a fascinating, enlightening, yet down-to-earth revelation of the human body-mind-spirit relationship and ultimate triumph over adversity.
    Janice Savage, B.A., A.L.A.,

  5. Nick McDermott Community Mental Health Nurse an (verified owner)

    One third of people who hear voices have a diagnosis of a psychotic mental illness, most often schizophrenia. They have received help from mental health services where such experiences have been predominantly viewed as biological in origin. Therefore the mainstay of treatment has been largely drug orientated. More recently, psychosocial models have been developed giving rise to some limited access to talking therapies, al-though still within a medical framework.
    However, this leaves two thirds of voice hearers who cope well with their experiences or even view them as a positive and essential influence on their lives. They have not re-quired professional intervention and never come into contact with mental health services. The vast majority of these people do not view their experiences within biological or psychological frameworks. Research has shown that a significant factor in how well people cope with their voices, is the beliefs they hold about them.
    Roy Vincent’s book, ‘Listening to the Silences’, reminds us that to try to impose psychiatric interpretations on the experiences of voice hearers is not essential and may even be counterproductive. Roy illustrates that the route to recovery may not always lie within the accepted psychiatric doctrine. He emphasizes the importance of finding meaning in voices and a personal understanding of their place within the context of a person’s life.
    Roy firmly believes that voices are spiritual in origin and this book will open up new di-mensions and possibilities for those who share his perspective. However, those who do not subscribe to this view should not be deterred, as it is still highly relevant to all voice hearers, relatives and professionals alike. As well as a spiritual perspective, ‘Listening to the Silences’ provides valuable insights into the phenomenological experience of voice hearing; what it feels like, the behaviours, tricks and ploys of the voices, how they interact and impact on a person’s life and ways to deal with them on a day to day basis. For this reason it has the potential to greatly enhance empathy, providing the foundation to any supportive or helpful relationship.
    This is not a textbook. It does not attempt to dissect and amalgamate human ex-perience for scientific scrutiny. This is a heartfelt unadulterated account of a personal odyssey. Even the casual reader will find this easily accessible and indeed ultimately absorbing. It is wonderfully written providing a fascinating glimpse into what is still one of Western society’s taboos and yet a reality for millions in the UK alone. I believe that ‘Listening to the Silences’ can raise the profile and acceptance of voice hearing; enabling those who struggle with the experience to overcome the isolation, lack of empathy and stigma which impedes their recovery.
    Nick McDermott RMN, BSc (Hons)
    Community Mental Health Nurse and former Honorary Lecturer on Psychosocial Interventions for Psychosis at the University of Manchester

  6. anon anon (verified owner)

    ‘The book is beautifully written’ (television producer): ‘He pours water over many un-helpful myths and writes clearly in a way that will probably save someone’s life’ (con-tributor to a chat line). A carer wrote ‘First of all a warm thank you for making your re-markable book freely available…’, while from a voice-hearer there came ‘I want to say thanks for writing about your experience. I found it to be the only true version of what I feel happened to myself last year. I had been looking for books to read on the subject, but I found nothing useful until I came to your account’. The mother of a voice-hearer completes this brief snapshot as she wrote to an organisation that aims to support suf-ferers – ‘After reading Roy’s book, I was very impressed, and it has helped me to under-stand what is happening to my son at this very moment. He has always said that it is a spiritual thing, not a mental illness. He described it word for word like Roy. At the mo-ment he is in hospital on psychotic drugs which don’t seem to be helping…I need to help my son, and I think Roy’s experience could help me to advise and understand more of what my son is trying to tell me.’

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