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National Empowerment Center - Articles

Intervoice Letter to Parents of Children who Hear Voices

Open letter to Oprah Winfrey in response to her program about “The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic"
From: Paul Baker - Coordinator of INTERVOICE, Spain -
10/19/2009

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We write this letter primarily for parents and care givers, in the hope that it will enable them to develop a new and more empowering way of thinking about their children’s experiences, and that it will help them to find ways to help those children with their emotional development and with recovering from being overwhelmed by hearing voices. Please sign on to this letter to express your support by emailing your name, location, and organization to admin@intervoiceonline.org.

Dear Oprah

We are writing this letter in response to your program about “The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic”. This concerned Jani, a child who hears voices, and was broadcast on the 6th October 2009.

We do so in the hope we can provide a more hopeful and positive alternative to the generally pessimistic picture offered by the members of the mental health community featured in the program, and in the accompanying article on your website.

What upset us most and moved us to write the letter, is that, as a result of the program, parents of children who have similar experiences to Jani will be left with the impression that they are powerless and will not be able to do anything constructive to help their children to come to terms with their experience of hearing voices.

For it is simply not true that nothing can be done.

We say this because we have been researching and working with adults and children like Jani and their parents for the last twenty years, and in doing so have reached very different conclusions from the ones reported on your program.

We write this letter primarily for parents and care givers, in the hope that it will enable them to develop a new and more empowering way of thinking about their children's experiences, and that it will help them to find ways to help those children with their emotional development and with recovering from being overwhelmed by hearing voices.

Unfortunately, there is very little practical advice available about children who hear voices which addresses the needs of parents or other members of the family. This is a shame because they are the most important form of support to such children. So, we want you to know that there are some simple commonsense things that parents can do to help children who hear voices - even children in seemingly hopeless situations, like Jani. [Read full letter with signatures from 136 people in 16 countries]