HBM100: Faraway Minds

Anna Klein thinks that tea tastes better on the Faroe Islands.  She thinks the water’s more pure there, and the Northern Lights let the sky be whatever color it wants to be.  She often thinks about moving there.

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Content Note: 
- Violence (momentary)
- Language (fleeting)

But she also worries that her fantasies of running away to the remote corners of the world may be a familial urge to isolate herself, the same way her father did...a tendency that ultimately contributed to his early death.

It was a loving and hurtful relationship that led Anna to retrace her father's life.  From her home in Aarhus, to his dying place of Copenhagen, to his hometown of Skagen, and then back to Aarhus again via the museum at Moesgaard.

Anna Klein produced this episode.  Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton edited.  Nick White is our editor at KCRW, where there are a lot of people we don’t often get the chance to thank, but help us to make this show: including Gary Scott, Juan Bonigno, Adria Kloke, Mia Fernandez, Dustin Milam, Christopher Ho, Caitlin Shamberg, JC Swiatek, and many others.

We’ll be back in the fall with new episodes.  In the meantime, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for updates from the off-season.  Rate us on iTunes and tell a friend too.

Music:  Lucky Dragons ||| The Black Spot

A sandy beach in Skagen, the northernmost town of mainland Denmark

A sandy beach in Skagen, the northernmost town of mainland Denmark

HBM094: The Fatigue of Violence

In the nearly 20 years that Susan Randall’s been working as a private investigator, she’s seen Vermont’s most disadvantaged people struggling to have life’s most basic amenities.  Sometimes her job is to interview people addicted to crack, to help determine whether they’re suitable parents. Sometimes her job is to examine blood spatter at gruesome crime scenes.  She recently helped defend a client who murdered a DCF worker in broad daylight.

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Content Note:

Descriptions of violent crimes

Susan has seen how humanity’s worst instincts become possible where cyclical poverty, incarceration, and drug addiction wreak havoc on communities.

There’s a necessary split screen in Susan’s mind.  One screen shows a home life: dropping her kids off at lacrosse, helping them with school projects.  And another screen shows a work life: prison visitation rooms, run-down trailer parks, the color-shifted skin of a corpse.

Producer Erica Heilman interviewed Susan over the course of three years.  Erica is a private investigator herself, and Susan was her mentor. The two talk about the mechanics of the legal system, poverty and how to survive a job that takes such an emotional toll.

Erica produces the podcast Rumble Strip. Some of the audio on this episode came from here and here.  Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton re-purposed this audio for Here Be Monsters.

Music:  The Black Spot

HBM066: What Jacob Heard [EXPLICIT]

Jacob Sutton loved going to church when he was a little boy. He sang in the choir, and when he got older he led Bible studies and helped teach Sunday school classes. Eventually he learned to speak in tongues. Jacob grew up Pentecostal, the oldest son of a deacon. His father used to work with people who believed they were possessed by demons, and would use prayer and Bible readings to cast the wicked spirits out. All of his life, Jacob knew that demons and The Devil were very real, and that they could possess his body, if he allowed them.

Jacob felt deeply connected to his male friends when he was young.  As a teenager, he realized that what he felt was more than friendship. But Jacob’s church was, like most Pentecostal congregations, staunchly against homosexuality. Jacob’s parents, pastor, and peers all talked about homosexuality as if it was a terrible disease that could only be cured by God. For years Jacob tried to hide his attraction to other boys, and became increasingly involved in his church in the hopes that he could just work through ‘the problem’.

Jacob's senior picture.

Jacob at a school dance.

In his freshman year of high school, Jacob was feeling helpless against his gay attractions. Exasperated, he asked aloud for a demon to come into his body. He figured he was already evil, so he might as well “get something out of it”.

A few months later, just as he was about to fall asleep, he heard a voice in his ear. Jacob was frozen in fear. He could not speak. The voice was dark, gravelly, and spoke a language he’d never heard before. Jacob knew in that moment that it was the demon he’d invited into his body.  It left only once he spoke the word “Jesus.” He woke up his father and they prayed together.

"Father God, my son was visited by a demon tonight. 
We need your protection, so that he can go to sleep...
We ask that you give him the rest of the righteous."

 

The next day, Jacob signed up for “spiritual boot camp”. It was a three day retreat for members of the congregation who hoped to make a life change, led by Jacob’s father. For three days, Jacob joined fellow congregants in prayer and worship, hoping this would be the beginning of his healing from gayness. After the weekend, Jacob didn’t feel “cured”, but he did feel like he was closer to becoming the man God intended him to be.

That was 13 years ago. Jacob has since stopped going to church and believing in God and Satan. He eventually came out to his family once and for all, and this time, he was met with open arms. Today he lives in Seattle and studies fashion design. And as of the time of this episode release, Jacob and his boyfriend have been together for almost three years.

ABC Report on Pentecostalism and speaking in tongues.

This episode was produced by Bethany Denton.

Music: Serocell | | | AHEE

HBM048: Barrie's Mental Tempest [EXPLICIT]

Barrie Wylie has heard voices for as long as he can remember. Growing up on a small island in Scotland, the voices in his head were like secret best friends that he could play with. When he left school to become a fisherman at 15, his voices told him he was a disciple of Jesus.  He believed he could control the weather and prevent harm befalling his boat and his crew.

As Barrie got older, his voices intensified. They became more aggressive, telling him to harm himself and others.

He learned to cope by silencing the voices with alcohol and other drugs.  He wound up in police custody more than once. 

When a family friend died under mysterious circumstances, Barrie was arrested and falsely suspected of murder.  While in custody, he told his doctor about his voices.   An autopsy later revealed that the friend died of natural causes. 

But Barrie spent the next seven years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, all while heavily medicated for paranoid schizophrenia. The voices don't leave him, no matter how much medication he took. They only got worse, until Barrie believed he heard the devil himself inside his brain. 

He tried to kill himself at least twice.  [Please note: this episode contains two descriptions of attempted suicide.] 

It was a social worker from the hospital who first suggested the Hearing Voices Network to Barrie.  HVN takes an unorthodox approach.  They say that hearing voices in and of itself should not yield a diagnosis.  They encourage people to talk to the their voices, treat their voices as if they're real people.  This approach is not universally accepted.

Barrie and Rachel's wedding.

But Barrie said that talking to his voices actively gave him agency he never had before.  He stopped trying to rid himself of his voices and instead learned how to have healthy relationships with them.  He stopped trying to hurt himself.  He stopped believing that his voices could control him. 

He joined Facebook support groups that advocated the Hearing Voices appoach.  And that's where he fell in love with Rachel.  She also heard voices.   Barrie and Rachel are now married and have a young child together.   He says he couldn't be happier. 

Barrie runs a website documenting his story and helping others through theirs. 

This episode was produced by Luke Eldridge.  Luke is an independent producer living in the UK.  

The episode was edited by Bethany Denton, with help from Jeff Emtman, and Nick White. 

Music: Serocell ||| Flowers ||| The Black Spot

Track image: Temptation of Christ, By Dutch-French painter Ary Scheffer, 1854. 

We recently released another (very different) story about mental illness and delusions of Jesus.  It's HBM039: A Goddamn Missionary, in which a man with Bi-polar Disorder learns to control his manic episodes through medication and altruism. 

KCRW is currently in the midst of their fall fund drive.  Support us by supporting them.  Become a member or renew.

HBM039: A Goddamn Missionary

Terry Crowley understands that he is an imperfect hero. But his efforts to help people in crisis are made possible by his ability to speak their language. That's because Terry himself has Bipolar Disorder and has been treated five times for thinking he was Jesus.

But Terry, who splits his time between the small town of Hoquiam, Washington and Seattle, knows that keeping his delusions in check will mean the success of his mission to help his friends and family and the "crazies" on the street that he checks in with.

The simple fact is that people who live on the street are more likely to have mental illnesses. PBS has a good factsheet about the knowns and unknowns of homelessness

In this episode of Here Be Monsters, Terry often refers to Manic Depression, a condition that, per the DSM-5, has been reclassified as Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, memory, concentration, sleep, sex drive, appetite and self esteem.

The causes of Bipolar Disorder are unknown, but it's thought to be hereditary.

Bipolar Disorder can disrupt personal and professional relationships, but it is treatable. Therapy, medication, support networks can help mitigate its negative impacts.

Bipolar Disorder often goes undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or untreated. If you experience symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, or know someone who does, help is available.

More information about Bipolar Disorder from the National Institute of Mental Health

If you're feeling suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US, at 1-800-273-TALK

For help outside of the US, here is a list of suicide prevention hotlines for almost every country


This episode was produced by Jeff Emtman with help from our Producer in Training, Grant Shprintz, and our story editor, Bethany Denton.

Music on the show from: Phantom Fauna ||| The Black Spot ||| Lucky Dragons

Right now, our friends over at NPR's Snap Judgment are running a crowd funding campaign that is critical to the success of great storytelling on the radio. Go ahead and toss them a dollar and tell them HBM sent you. They have some great rewards, too.