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Mental health: working with people who hear voices

24 October 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 19

Hearing voices can be described as the experience of hearing one or more voices in the absence of anyone in the immediate physical environment to whom the voice belongs (Hayward and May, 2007; Chadwick and Hemingway, 2017). Often referred to as auditory hallucinations, hearing voices is traditionally associated with diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or affective psychoses (Chadwick et al, 1996). However, it is important to note that voice hearing itself is not an illness (Kingdon and Turkington 1994).

Traditionally, based on a biomedical model of disease, such experiences have been understood as symptoms of psychiatric illness requiring treatment (Payne et al, 2017).

However, a variety of frameworks have been used to describe voice-hearing experiences, with a growing interest in psychological explanations (Hayward and May, 2007). Traumatic life experiences, for example bereavement or sexual abuse, have been identified as triggers to voice hearing experiences, particularly in children.

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