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A Dangerous Game

Last night’s Cowley Deanery Synod meeting focused on the topic of mental health and the invited speaker, Polly Falconer, gave a brilliant lesson drawn from her years of experience working in the area. One of the activities was designed to help us think about the experience of those who regularly hear additional voices in their head.

In threes, one person spoke to the second member of the group on a topic of interest to them while the third listened and whispered words of discouragement into the ear of the speaker. Each person took a turn in each role, for a minute at a time and I think it got the point home.

Indeed, I’m glad each run was only a minute. Being the listener was quite easy but being the speaker was hard and the role of whisperer was perhaps hardest of all. You wanted to play the part but were conscious of human fragility; what if you happened upon the mistletoe dart that would pierce the defences?

The exercise was successful both in giving imaginative insight into what the affliction of hearing voices (which could affect anywhere from about 10% – 25% of the UK population) might be like and stirring up the empathy that comes from realising your shoes are not that different. However, I’d be very careful about playing that game; it’s not one I plan to introduce to the Youth Group.

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