[News release] Voices in people’s heads more complex than previously thought
Voices in people’s heads are far more varied and complex than previously thought, according to new research by Durham and Stanford universities, published in The Lancet Psychiatry today.
One of the largest and most detailed studies to date on the experience of auditory hallucinations, commonly referred to as voice hearing, found that the majority of voice-hearers hear multiple voices with distinct character-like qualities, with many also experiencing physical effects on their bodies.
The study also confirmed that both people with and without psychiatric diagnoses hear voices.
The findings question some of the current assumptions about the nature of hearing voices and suggest there is a greater variation in the way voices are experienced than is typically recognised.
The researchers say this variation means different types of therapies could be needed for voice-hearers, such as tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) geared towards distinct voice sub-types or patterns of voice hearing.
Current common approaches to help with voices include medication, CBT, voice dialogue techniques and other forms of therapy and self-help.
Auditory hallucinations are a common feature of many psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but are also experienced by people without psychiatric conditions. It is estimated that between five and 15 per cent of adults will experience auditory hallucinations during their lifetimes.
This is one of the first studies to shed light on the nature of voice-hearing both inside and outside schizophrenia, across many different mental health diagnoses.
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