Submission by: Dr. Annie Pohlman
Amak Dahniar has heard voices, and sometimes seen people, that others cannot since she was in her early 20s. A few years ago, when Amak was in her early 70s, a psychiatrist at the hospital in the city near her home in the mountains of West Sumatra diagnosed her with paranoid schizophrenia. It was a diagnosis that meant very little to Amak; she doesn’t care for the psychiatrist, the hospital, or the medicines that she was given that made her feel sleepy.
For Amak’s children, however, the diagnosis gave a new name to their mother’s interactions with voices, visions and dreams. The voices who speak to their mother are hallucinations, the signs only she can divine that others in the village mean her harm are delusions.
Annie Pohlman and her colleagues from Andalas University in West Sumatra first interviewed Amak Dahniar as part of a project investigating oral histories of trauma in that province. Continue reading “A Lifetime of Hearing Voices: Mental Illness, Trauma, and Oral Histories”