Interview: Flame Vine Arent (Oct 2017)

Jill-Elizabeth with Charles Porter

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Jill-Elizabeth Arent interviewed Charles about his books in The Hearing Voices Series


Interview with Charles Porter


Today I am beyond pleased to bring you some thoughts from author Charles Porter on schizophrenia and hearing voices. Porter is the author of the books Shallcross and Flame Vine – which together comprise his Hearing Voices series. The books are Porter’s fictional take on a very serious, utterly non-fictional, issue: auditory and visual hallucinations. I have not had the chance to read the books yet, but wanted to introduce the author and his books to you – as well as offer him the opportunity to share some of his insights about the hearing voices community. I have a long-standing interest in mental health – there is nothing more precious to me than my mind and my sense of self; the thought that a physical or emotional issue could subvert those qualities that are so essential to the idea of me as me is horrifying and yet somehow also darkly compelling (perhaps because I hope that understanding will help thwart the possibility of it ever happening to me, even though I know full well that this doesn’t make any sense at all).


My two cents: I have worked in health care, in trade organizations, law firms, and commercial enterprises representing hospitals, physicians, health insurers, and pharmaceuticals, and have continually been amazed at the disparate treatment that mental health – as opposed to physical health – conditions receive.


I asked Mr. Porter to weigh in on the normalization of mental health treatment and understanding, particularly in light of so many ongoing research developments discovering how many of these “mental” conditions do in fact have underlying physical/physiological causes (or at least major causal elements). His response below helps explain why he has written these books, and what he hopes to gain from them. I hope you find it enlightening, and that it provides an incentive for those of you who are interested in the topic, to seek out his books.


"Approximately 1.5% of the world’s population is estimated to have what medicine calls schizophrenia. In the United States certain funds are directed toward research, say for example, AIDS. AIDS receives on average of $2,500.00 per person. Schizophrenia receives around $80.00 per person.


As far as underlying causes: Here is where I depart from convention, and it is all over my books in dialogue between the main character, Aubrey Shallcross and his other voice, Triple Suiter. The separate truth is that we, and I did say we, in the hearing voices community don’t think schizophrenia is an illness. We think that the 1.5% of people in the population, and it is many, many, more I’m sure, inherited this ability of the right hemisphere of the brain to talk to the left hemisphere from our early ancestors who all had what is known in anthropology as, bicameral minds. The best compilation of thesis on this is a book written in 1974, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes, a famous psychological anthropologist who taught at Princeton.


I dedicate my books to The Hearing Voices Network, a worldwide organization that is something like AA. Dr. Jaynes’s book is our Bible and doesn’t treat us as if we are lower forms of human beings. It is only now, through improvements in modern science and understanding, that other people are starting to realize that to have these so called “schizoid traits” is not any more unusual than it is to carry the western population’s ubiquitous gene of our relatives, the Neanderthals. If you tell someone they might go mad, then it only makes them worse and increases the possibility they could withdraw into that kind of state. In the various tribes and certain societies around the world a voice hearer is usually considered gifted, someone who can speak to the spiritual world, and it is that world that I believe is the real land of Leal we call “the other side” and religion.


I hope my books and stories will bring comfort and joy to voice hearers and that the books will also help other non-voice hearers understand us. Thank you for considering my work."



Illustration Flame Vine