cover image Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in My Head

Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in My Head

Claire Bien. Jessica Kingsley, $15.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-78592-718-8

In this candid, informative memoir, Bien, a trained facilitator for the Hearing Voices Network, describes experiencing auditory verbal hallucinations throughout much of her adult life. Having eventually learned to manage this condition, she aims to bring hope to others in the same circumstances. Bien details the most difficult and embarrassing periods of her life, including the deaths of close family members and her two troubled marriages, both which ended in divorce. The book chronologically documents Bien's life from her early years, through college, to her struggle to find a vocational calling, alongside the time line of her voices: their first appearance, her first hospitalization, and her subsequent recoveries. Bien's tone is matter-of-fact and often rings flat throughout her comprehensive accounts; the sentences are mostly declarative and devoid of much emotion. Bien is lucid and calm in looking back at her life and battles, displaying an admirably unflinching self-awareness. She's able to understand how she "was primed to hear voices" by biological and life triggers associated with her condition, and her journey will appeal to others struggling to overcome or better understand the same affliction. (June)