This month in voices: Autumn 2016

Thanks to some encouraging words from someone who will remain semi-mysteriously known as simply TML, This Month In Voices returns with a round up of the research that fell across my desk in the fall.

It has a new format, due to time continually contracting around me, and I will be grouping the research into themes, offering some brief words, and letting you follow-up anything that interests you.

Some free things first!



My colleagues and I recently published a free ebook on hallucinations.

It is comprised of a number of journal articles on hallucinations, which cover aspects such as trauma, the self, sleep, psychological therapies, neurostimulation, and philosophical perspectives.

Hopefully there is something for everyone in here.




I’d also like to mention the fabulous (and free!) hearing voices exhibition running until the 26th of Feb 2017 at Durham University in the UK.

Charles, Angela, the rest of the Hearing the Voice team, and their collaborators have done an amazing job and I’d highly recommend a visit.




Finally, if you’re interested in voice-hearing in the Ancient World, you might find my latest blog post Silence of the Ancients to be of interest.



Anyway, now onto the research!

What does Voice-Hearing Signify?

Back in the day it was thought that if you had a certain type of hallucination, such as hearing voices conversing or offering a running commentary on you, then this was indicative of schizophrenia. A review by Flavie Waters and Charles Fernyhough found that there was no evidence that any particular property of a hallucination (e.g., its content or form) was specifically associated with schizophrenia. The only aspect of hallucinations that were associated with schizophrenia were that they began in late adolescence.

Hearing Voices and Trauma

The quest continues to find out exactly how trauma leads to hallucinations. Gibson and colleagues reviewed potential mechanisms. Geddes and colleagues, in a new empirical study, examined what predicted whether someone went on to have hallucinations after being assaulted. They found that the way the person processed the trauma at the time (a lack of self-referential processing, and dissociation), the way they processed the trauma afterwards (thought suppression, rumination, and numbing), and factors such as self-blame, predicted the emergence of hallucinations. You may also be interested in an Iranian single case study documenting a relation between physical abuse and hallucinations in a child, and the authors’ discussion of this.

Voice-Hearing Without Need for Care

A really interesting study looked at voice-hearing in clairaudient psychics, a systematic review was published on healthy voice-hearing (although the use of this term is becoming increasingly problematic), and a study from Iris Sommer’s group looked in more detail at children who are seeking help for voice-hearing.

Coping with Voices

One study found that (in both clinical and non-clinical voice-hearers), greater levels of neuroticism (a personality trait characterized by emotional instability and proneness to experiencing anxiety, fear, and sadness) were associated with more maladaptive reactions to voices (e.g., being more distressed). Another study, involving Salvador Perona-Garcelán, Mark Hayward and colleagues, found that greater levels of mindfulness were associated with having a better relationship with your voices.

Other bits and bobs

De Sousa and colleagues marched into the debate on inner speech and hallucinations, and an interesting study looked at psychosis and help-seeking in KwaZulu Natal.

And finally…

cherise-nev-sarahI’d like to pass thanks on again to the superstars that are Nev Jones, Cherise Rosen, and Sarah Keedy for organizing a great meeting of the International Consortium on Hallucinations Research in Chicago in September, and for being wonderful hosts.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again in Lille in 2017!

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1 Response to This month in voices: Autumn 2016

  1. T.M. Luhrmann says:

    🙂 thank you!!! I love your posts …

    Sent from my iPhone

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