Six Questions about Voice and Voicelessness

  • What is "voice?"

"Voice" is the sense of agency that makes a child confident that he or she will be heard, and that he or she will impact his or her environment.

  • Why is "voice" important?

"Voice" is essential to the emotional well being of children and adults. The absence of "voice" contributes to many mental "disorders:" depression, narcissism, anxiety, relationship difficulties, etc. If you, or anyone you know, suffers from any of these problems, it is important to understand "voice." If you are raising young children, fostering voice is critical.

  • What is your evidence that "voice" is important?

Over and over again, my work with clients has confirmed the importance of "voice." While childhood love and attention were important, by themselves they were not sufficient to inoculate my clients against depression, narcissism, relationship problems, etc. For example, every chronically depressed person I have treated has suffered from "voicelessness." Of course, my own personal experience as child, stepparent, and parent has taught me a great deal about voice.

  • "Voicelessness" sounds a lot like Seligman's "learned helplessness." How are the two related?

Voicelessness is an interpersonal learned helplessness. "Voicelessness" is not the result of a single trauma. The "learning" begins early in life and continues throughout childhood. If a child's voice repeatedly has little impact on his or her parent's world, helplessness is engendered. A child will do anything he or she can to escape this feeling of helplessness and the concomitant anxiety and depression. As I describe in the essays, children's unconscious "solutions" to voicelessness are often self-destructive.

  • Where can I read about "voice?"

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival (see link below) is a good starting place. In these essays, I discuss many of the disorders mentioned above from the perspective of voice. When I find work directly relevant to "voice," I will post it on the Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board (see the link below). Of course, all recommendations are welcome. Don't feel limited to psychology or the social sciences--some of the best depictions of voicelessness can be found in fiction. Feel free to use the Voicelessness and Emotional Survival message board to post your favorite resources.


  • How can I give my child the gift of voice?

Ah, I thought you'd never ask! Time to move on to the essay: Giving Your Child "Voice"

About the author: Dr. Grossman is a clinical psychologist and author of the Voicelessness and Emotional Survival web site.

next: Voicelessness: Narcissism

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 10). Six Questions about Voice and Voicelessness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: July 14, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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