Television news

The Voices In My Head

BBC Three from Tuesday 22nd May

Around 1 in 10 adults hear voices in their heads as a result of one of a number of mental illnesses, including Schizophrenia. The Voices In My Head is a ground breaking documentary taking viewers in to their world, following the lives of 3 voice hearers through a hybrid of observational documentary and audio reconstruction. The film follows:

Kyle, 26, started hearing a voice in his head less than a year ago after he lost his job, house and girlfriend in quick succession. Soon after he started hearing voices, Kyle was involved in a violent incident where he tried to silence the voice by slashing his own head with a blade. Police believed he may have killed someone until they realised that his intended victim had been the voice. We see him as he tries to control the voice and comes to terms with the possibility that he may have to get used to life with the voice.

Emmalina, 36, has been hearing a collection of voices since she was a child and has found that by welcoming them in, they can all live relatively peacefully - except when the voice of ‘The Devil’ appears. Emmalina chats away with her voices whilst at home, even laying a place for ‘Katie’ at the table and urging her to help with the housework. She knows the voices are not physically able to help, but after traumatic experiences earlier in her life, the voices have become a source of comfort and companionship. But they have also made her more isolated as ‘Katie’ and ‘Mother’ do not like Emmalina to leave the house, and ‘The Devil’ threatens to harm her. We follow Emmalina as she strives to become more independent.

After 4 years Chaz, 28, is still fighting her voice ‘Victor’, who first appeared when she was at University. Victor keeps up a steady stream of abuse in Chaz’s ear, telling her how worthless she is and telling her that the only way she will be free is to commit suicide. She has jumped off a bridge twice, leaving her reliant on a wheelchair – but still she feels drawn back to a nearby bridge. The film follows her attempts to resist as she looks to poetry as a way to cope.

During filming the production team worked closely with each contributor, making detailed notes of voices they were hearing in order to add them in during the editing process, guided at every step by the contributors. The resulting documentary is a recreation of what it is like to live life as a voice hearer – revealing the often distressing impact of voices intruding on their day to day lives.

This challenging film gives unprecedented insight in to the lives of these three voice hearers, revealing the way they face the voices – some tormentors and others companions – who can be with them from the moment they wake, to the moment they finally manage to get to sleep.