When a person has a voice that tells one to kill oneself or others, or to do other irrational or horrible things, it is easy to decide that the voice, and whatever is producing the voice, is “sick” and needs to be somehow eliminated. This naturally leads to things like an emphasis on fighting with and trying to destroy the voice, or “running away” from it through distraction, or attempting to drug it into oblivion by taking more and more medications. Unfortunately, all such methods tend to be destructive to the person who hears the voice, and are usually not successful in facilitating long term recovery. What might work better?
A very different perspective is one that sees the voice as representing a part of oneself which may be important and valuable, even though it is currently advocating some “bad ideas.” From this perspective, the goal is to resist giving in to the “bad ideas” while at the same time working to make friends with that part of oneself, and to integrate what that part of the self has to offer.
It is common for example for parts of the self that want radical change in one’s life to represent that wish in thoughts about suicide, or killing one’s existing self: a person who recognizes this can make friends with the urge for radical change, and explore various ideas for change, while resisting the idea of destroying one’s whole life. It is also common, especially for people who are not skilled in balanced assertiveness, to experience a desire to “kill” others, when one is not good at setting boundaries with them: but once this is recognized, one can make friends with these aggressive impulses and re-channel them into assertive boundary setting. There are many other possible examples.
One story I like is about a woman who finds that part of herself seems to be a serial killer. With help however, she learns to not freak out about this part of herself, and finds that underneath, it is a good and protective part of herself, which can be retrained to focus on liking ice cream and cartoons instead of mass murder. (OK, I know it sounds like a weird shift, but read the story yourself: it’s called “Making friends with voices: hearing voices and dissociation.”)