Experiencing Voices

Baker P.K (1990): I hear voices and I’m glad to! Critical Public Health, No. 4, 1990, pp 21 27

Baker P.K (1995): Accepting the Inner Voices, Nursing Times, Vol. 91, No 31, 1995, pp 59 61

Batty DM (1997): “I still hear the priest occasionally but he’s only a minor voice now”, The Independent, July 1

Bauer S (1970): The function of hallucinations: an enquiry into the relationship of hallucinatory experience to create thought, Origin and Mechanisms of Hallucinations, Keup W (ed), New York, Plenum

Bentall R.P and Slade P.D. (1995), Reliability of a scale for measuring disposition towards hallucinations: a brief report, Person. Individ. Diff. Vol 6, No. 4, pp. 527 529

M. Birchwood; A Meaden; P. Trower; P. Gilbert; J. Plaistow; (2000): The power and omnipotence of voices: subordination and entrapment by voices and significant others. Psychological Medicine. Vol 30 (2), 337-344

Background. A preliminary report by the authors suggested that the range of affect generated by voices (anger, fear, elation) was linked not to the form, content or topography of voice activity, but to the beliefs patients held about them, in particular their supposed power and authority. We argued that this conformed to a cognitive model; that is, voice beliefs represent an attempt to understand the experience of voices, and cannot be understood by reference to the form/content of voices alone. This study puts this cognitive model to empirical test.

Methods. Sixty-two voice hearers conforming to ICD-10 schizophrenia or schizoaffective diagnoses were interviewed and completed standardized measures of voice activity; beliefs about voices and supporting evidence, coping behaviour; affect and depression.

M. Birchwood; A Meaden; P. Trower; P. Gilbert; J. Plaistow; (2000): The power and omnipotence of voices: subordination and entrapment by voices and significant others. Psychological Medicine. Vol 30 (2), 337-344

Background. A preliminary report by the authors suggested that the range of affect generated by voices (anger, fear, elation) was linked not to the form, content or topography of voice activity, but to the beliefs patients held about them, in particular their supposed power and authority. We argued that this conformed to a cognitive model; that is, voice beliefs represent an attempt to understand the experience of voices, and cannot be understood by reference to the form/content of voices alone. This study puts this cognitive model to empirical test.

Methods. Sixty-two voice hearers conforming to ICD-10 schizophrenia or schizoaffective diagnoses were interviewed and completed standardized measures of voice activity; beliefs about voices and supporting evidence, coping behaviour; affect and depression.

Results. Beliefs about the power and meaning of voices showed a close relationship with coping behaviour and affect (malevolent voices were associated with fear and anger and were resisted; benevolent voices were associated with positive effect and were engaged) and accounted for the high rate of depression in the sample (53%). Measures of voice form and topography did not show any link with behaviour or affect and in only one-quarter of cases did neutral observers rate voice beliefs as following directly from voice content.

Conclusion. The study found support for our cognitive model and therapeutic approach. Factors governing the genesis of these key beliefs remain unknown. A number of hypotheses are discussed, which centre around the possibility that voice beliefs develop as part of an adaptive process to the experience of voices, and are underpinned by core beliefs about the individuals self-worth and interpersonal schemata.

Lisa Blackman (2001): Hearing voices, embodiment and experience , Free Association Books, London, ISBN 1 85343 3

Paul Chadwick, Susan Lees and Max Birchwood (2000), The revised beliefs about voices questionnaire, British Journal Psychiatry no 177, pp 229-232

Chadwick PDJ, Birchwood MJ (1995): The omnipotence of voices II: the beliefs about voices questionnaire, British Journal of Psychiatry, no 166, pp 773-776

Graham Cockshutt (2004), Choices for voices: A voice hearer’s perspective on hearing voices, Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, Volume 9, Issue 1 & 2 February 2004 , pages 9 – 11

Davies, Peggy; Thomas, Philip; Leudar, Ivan (1999): Dialogical engagement with voices: A single case study. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 72, 179-187

Julie Downs, (Ed), (2001), Coping with Voices And Visions, A guide to helping people who Experience hearing voices, seeing visions, tactile or other Sensations, Hearing Voices Network, Manchester, England

Johnson F.H. (1978): The Anatomy of Hallucinations, Nelson Hall, Chicago

Jung C. G. (1969): Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Pantheon Books, Random House, New York

Martin P. J. (2000): Hearing voices and listening to those that hear them. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 7 (2), 135–141

Sanjuan J, Gonzalez JC, Aguilar EJ, Leal C and Os J; Pleasurable auditory hallucinations Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 2004; 110 (4); 273-278

One response to “Experiencing Voices”

  1. Laura O'Halloran

    Does anyone know whether any research has been done which looks at how talking about hearing voices (with others who hear voices/carers/family) effects the experience or understanding of hearing voices?

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