Alternative approaches to mental illness

These types of experiences are not necessarily symptoms of a psychotic illness. A large number of people have heard voices, or hold beliefs that others might consider unusual, but are not distressed by them. This usually means that other people remain unaware of them and these people do not need help from mental health services.

The general view in Europe and North America is that psychotic experiences are caused by mental illness and must be treated by doctors. Other societies may have very different interpretations of these experiences and different ways of dealing with them, such as relating them to past lives, or ancestral spirits. They may help people through them using ceremonies and rituals.

A research study has shown that the majority of people who hear voices are not in need of psychiatric help.