Category Archives: projects

Schreber Live! A Celebration of Memoirs of My Nervous Illness

“In what circumstances can a person considered insane be detained in an Asylum against his declared will?”

-Daniel Paul Schreber, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness

This past weekend, Hearing Voices New York City, along with the International Society for the Psychological & Social Approaches to Psychosis and Das Unbehagen, staged an event called “Schreber Live!” which celebrated Daniel Paul Schreber’s first person account of “madness”, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. The event took place at the Jefferson Market Library and featured lectures, performances, visual art, poetry, and dance. One of the main features of the event was people scattered through-out the building, reading passages from the text. The purpose of the event was stated during the introduction:

“Schreber’s book–which is at once a memoir, a historical document, and a judicial treatise in support of his release from the asylum– is one of the most widely-known and cited first-person accounts of what is commonly called “madness”. Like the book, the Jefferson Market Library, is not only a location for literary pursuits, but once served as a court-house during the 1800s. In the garden behind the building stood a women’s house of detention, demolished in 1973. The brick-arched basement, served as a holding cell for prisoners on their way to jail or trial. In more recent times, the library was also the site of first community-based non-clinical peer-support group for voice-hearers in New York City.  Today, as we celebrate Daniel Paul Schreber’s book within this courthouse-turned-library, there is a sense of redemption, of his words being taken seriously, given their rightful place not only within a literary institution, but also within a lawful one.”

The event brought well-over 150 people, many of which stated the power of reading Schreber’s words inside an old courthouse:

“It was amazing to be in that space and in those strange and tragic and wondrous discursive spaces, modern and old.”

“It was quite powerful for me to read Schreber to all who passed by and some who stopped to listen a bit.  I loved hearing other readers and dropping in on whatever section they happened to be reading.  The whole event was really great.  Schreber would have been, and was, at home.”

“…it was a powerful experience. It truly felt like Schreber’s life, work, and experience, and the representation of those of others who have had similar experiences , were honored via this event.”

Images of the devices Schreber’s father created for child-rearing
Participants in a one-act play of Chapter 21 of the Memoirs
Gregory Shankland speaking on his own experiences of voices


New Project for People Who Hear Positive Voices


young woman listening

A new project is being started to establish an online discussion forum for people who hear voices and have always been able to cope well with them. Below is a letter written by the project staff (Marius Romme, Sandra Escher, Paul Baker, & Will Hall) seeking voice-hearers with supportive voices:

As you know the general population surveys have shown that in our society about 4% of people are hearing voices on a more a less regular basis. Most of these people hear voices that are supportive and inspiring and who function well with them.

Therefore there are about 250 million people across the world who have this experience and are not able to openly talk about it. This is because of the prevailing negative attitudes in society that regard this human experience as abnormal.

To date we have mainly focused on the people who hear voices and have become psychiatric patients. We have done this by assisting them to accept their voices as their reality, to make sense of the experience and to learn to live with their voices and their emotions.

This is important and necessary work but it has meant that we have neglected the largest group of voice hearers. The Hearing Voices Movement has learnt that hearing voices is a common human variation but society does not share this understanding. Therefore we think this is the time to influence society and that the most effective way to do this is by identifying the voice hearers who live well with their voices and to encourage them to speak out.

To realize this we need to begin a process that creates safe spaces for these people to share their experiences. Therefore we are looking for people who would be willing to participate in a private and moderated online forum, where members can adopt an avatar to protect their identity if they so wish.

We think the benefits of the forum for participants would be the opportunity:

We are asking for your help to identify people who hear voices, who we could invite to become members of this forum:

  • to get a better understanding of the voice hearing experience
  • to help change social attitudes and promote the freedom of minds
  • to share stories and experiences

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes

Marius Romme & Sandra Escher (Research and correspondence )

Paul Baker (Moderator)

Will Hall (Consultant)

To find out more about the project, or to get involved as a promoter, you can contact Dr. Romme here:

a.romme.escher – at –