Contributor corner: Chris Chapman

Chris ChapmanChris’s media career began after gaining a spot of work experience on illustrious daytime game show Supermarket Sweep. He has subsequently worked for several indie production companies, design agency Red Bee Media and the BBC, and has produced educational films for the young people’s charity YouthNet. He now produces films for the Wellcome Trust.

Twitter: @chimpy

Chris has produced and narrated Mosaic’s first audio documentary.

What’s your documentary about?

It’s an audio story about the phenomenon of voice hearing. We all have an inner voice, but for some people they have a much more pronounced experience. Voice hearing is often associated with conditions such as schizophrenia or psychosis. But some voice hearers often don’t share the view that they have a ‘brain disorder’– they believe the voices they hear are rooted in significant and sometimes traumatic events in their lives. By gradually exploring these events they believe they can begin to understand what their voices represent.

The story also covers clinical perspectives and features a new therapeutic technique called ‘avatar therapy’, which is helping voice hearers manage the distress their persistent voices can cause. It involves the creation of a visual representation of their voice using computer software. The voice hearer – with the aid of their therapist – enters into a dialogue with this avatar into order to increase their self-esteem and limit the power of the voice.

What did you learn that you didn't expect?

That most of us will experience voice hearing at some point in our lives. For some, it may only happen once or twice. For others, the experience can become more prolonged, perhaps even problematic.

I was also encouraged to learn that clinical approaches to voice hearing are now listening to the experiences of voice hearers themselves as a way to guide their understanding of symptoms.

I also learnt quickly how to be decisive in the edit suite. I had so much interesting material, it was very difficult to decide what to leave out. In order to keep the story under an hour I had to remove a number of segments, including one about Joan of Arc (who once threw herself from a tower at Château Beaulieu-les-Fontaines, apparently as a result of the voices she heard) and a segment about a 16th century hallucinating monk. One segment featuring Professor Paul Fletcher I did keep as a standalone Extra, as he provided a really interesting perspective on how our brains can in fact be unknowingly deceitful. 

Listen to Chris’s documentary in Mosaic, publishing 9 December 2014. A sneak preview below: