edinburgh-international-book-festival-2014-coverHearing the Voice is delighted to be part of a series of literary and cultural events designed to explore a rich and enigmatic feature of human experience – hearing voices when no one is speaking – at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year.

Conversations with Ourselves places Charles Fernyhough, Angela Woods, Patricia Waugh and Christopher Cook alongside established authors, clinicians and voice-hearers in a series of interviews, panel discussions and story-telling workshops.

The talks and workshops will take place between 9 and 25 August 2014 at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh.

The events provide a unique opportunity to explore a wide range of topics relating to the latest academic research into voice-hearing and other unusual mental states, including psychosis and recovery; voice-hearing and spirituality; the relationship between voice-hearing, inner speech and creativity; and hearing voices in childhood and adolescence.

In order to complement Conversations with Ourselves, Hearing the Voice will be launching the ‘Writers Inner Voices’ project – a qualitative study of literary creativity, designed to explore the complex ways in which writers experience the voices, presence and agency of the characters and people they bring to life in their writing.

Janet Smyth, Children’s and Education Programme Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, says: ‘The Edinburgh International Book Festival has always encouraged writers and audiences to explore all aspects of the literary creative process. We are delighted to be working with Durham University’s Hearing the Voice project, and to have the support of the Wellcome Trust, in presenting a series of talks and workshops examining the medical, spiritual and literary aspects of hearing voices.’

GUEST TICKETS FOR MEMBERS OF THE VOICE-HEARING COMMUNITY

Hearing the Voice and the Edinburgh International Book Festival see Conversations with Ourselves as a unique opportunity to raise public awareness, reduce stigma and discrimination, and challenge preconceived opinions about hearing voices and other usual mental states.

We warmly welcome voice-hearers, ‘experts by experience’ and mental health service users to participate in Conversations with Ourselves and would be delighted to hear your thoughts and opinions on the events in the series.

To this end, we are pleased to announce that ten complimentary tickets for each event have been reserved for members of the voice-hearing community, mental health services users and people with lived experience of psychosis.

The free tickets have been generously provided by the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

So if you have personal experience of hearing voices or other unusual mental states and would like to attend one of the events in Conversations with Ourselves, please complete our online application form, indicating the three events you would most like to attend in order of preference.

We will do our best to accommodate your requests, but please note that priority will be given to people local to the Edinburgh International Book Festival and those living in Scotland and the North-East of England. After this, tickets will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

The deadline for completing the online application form is 15 July 2014, but please do register your interest as soon as possible.

Tickets must be collected from the venue at least one hour before the event starts, and any uncollected tickets will be released for public sale.

THE PROGRAMME

Conversations with Ourselves examines the medical, spiritual and literary aspects of hearing voices. Too often viewed as a sign of psychological illness, this series of events places voice-hearing in a broader context, exploring the effects of inner monologues, imaginary childhood friends and the demands character voices place on a novelist.

The Voices in Our Head
9 August 2014, 5 pm
Scottish Power Foundation Studio

The first sign that a book works is when the characters talk back to their author, and literature can represent our internal voices unlike any other artform. A panel of award-winning novelists, Nathan Filer, Edward Carey and Matthew Quick talk about their relationships with their characters and their inner voices, exploring how a writer hears and channels the creative voice that drives a narrative or character.

Best (Imaginary) Friends Forever
15 August 2014, 5 pm
Scottish Power Foundation Studio  

Remarkably, statistics show that childhood imaginary friends stay with people throughout their lives. Why do youngsters need these friends and where do they go when children grow up? Pip Jones, the author of Squishy McFluff, and Michael Marshall Smith, who has written We Are Here, reflect on the world of imaginary friends with child psychologist, novelist, and director of Durham University’s Hearing the Voice project, Charles Fernyhough.

You Are Not Alone
17 August 2014, 4 pm
Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre      

An established authority on the teenage brain, Nicola Morgan has now written The Teenage Guide to Stress. Dawn McNiff’s novel Little Celeste follows an 11 year old who finds herself with a baby only she can see. In Donna Cooner’s Skinny, an overweight teenager hears a vicious and undermining voice. Together these authors discuss how stress can turn into psychosis, and why talking to someone is a vital first step to coping.

Making Meaning of the Voices
18 August 2014, 5 pm
Scottish Power Foundation Studio

People with severe mental health issues are often stigmatized by society. From drugs to psychiatry, solutions are complex and expensive. Eleanor Longden, a voice hearer and a qualified psychologist joins James Ley, a playwright who explores his bi-polar disorder in his writing, and Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at King’s College London, to discuss how hearing voices and other problems can be ‘creative and ingenious survival strategies’. 

Chaired by Dr Angela Woods, Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities and Co-Director of the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University.

Has Psychiatry Silenced God?
22 August 2014, 2 pm
Scottish Power Foundation Studio

Through history, divine intervention has influenced great artists, thinkers and leaders, and the voice of God is a distinct and separate presence in the minds of many people today. Author and former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, leads a discussion with writer Sara Maitland and psychiatrist and theologian Chris Cook to explore how religious beliefs and creative inspiration define our consciousness.

The Moth
23 August 2014
, 8 pm
Baillie Gifford Main Theatre

To celebrate the UK launch of their first book, which collects together 50 of their best stories, we invited The Moth, the legendary US storytelling organisation, to create a special one-off evening of stories inspired by our strand of events, Conversations with Ourselves. Join an eclectic cast of storytellers from around the world and all walks of life for a uniquely intimate evening of tall tales and surprises.

The full details of the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme and can be found on the  EIBF website. Tickets for the general public are on sale here.

Any queries about the complimentary tickets for members of the voice-hearing community should be directed to Victoria Patton.

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