Is the content of delusions and hallucinations important?

Authors


  • Yasmin Aschebrock

    PhD candidate, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland and Assistant Psychologist with the Adult Psychology Service, Northland Health, Kaitaia, New Zealand.

    Nicola Gavey

    Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

    Tim McCreanor

    Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

    Lynette Tippett

    Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Yasmin Aschebrock, 29 Henderson Bay Road, Henderson Bay, RD 4, Kaitaia, New Zealand. Email: yasmin@ihug.co.nz

Abstract

Objective: To explore the level of interest among researchers and clinicians in the content of delusions and hallucinations.

Methods: A survey of 58 mental health practitioners and researchers was conducted. The questionnaire included closed and open-ended questions about participants’ views concerning the value of attending to the content of delusions and hallucinations.

Results: Participants identified benefits (e.g. heightened understanding of clients’ difficulties, enhanced therapeutic relationship, improved risk assessment) and drawbacks (e.g. waste of time, exacerbation of clients’ distress, reinforcement of content, blurred distinction between reality and non-reality) associated with attending to content. Half of the participants suggested that their work would be enhanced, while approximately one-fifth felt that their work would be affected adversely, should they attend to content.

Conclusions: Taken together, the data suggest that there is ambivalence towards the practice of attending to content. Participants identified deterrents to this practice that were not only pragmatic but were also related to the customary way in which delusions and hallucinations are conceptualized in the mental health field.

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