Auditory hallucinations as a personal experience: analysis of non-psychiatric voice hearers’ narrations
Article first published online: 15 OCT 2012
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Volume 20, Issue 9, pages 761–767, November 2013
How to Cite
Faccio, E., Romaioli, D., Dagani, J. and Cipolletta, S. (2013), Auditory hallucinations as a personal experience: analysis of non-psychiatric voice hearers’ narrations. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 20: 761–767. doi: 10.1111/jpm.12008
- Issue published online: 4 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 15 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 SEP 2012
- auditory hallucinations;
- mental health problems;
- qualitative methodology
- Auditory hallucinations are voices heard speaking with the hearer or discussing his or her thoughts or behaviours.
- They are common also among non-psychiatric population and may be a positive experience.
- These hallucinations cannot be considered merely as symptoms because they may have an adaptive function.
- We should avoid trying to helping voice hearers to eliminate or deny voices, and rather we should help them to feel allowed to preserve their voices.
This exploratory research investigates the phenomenon of non-psychiatric auditory hallucinations from the perspective of the voice hearer, evaluating the possibility that this experience can contribute the maintenance and adaptation of the hearer's personal identity system. A semi-structured interview was administered to 10 Italian voice hearers, six men and four women, aged 18–65 years, who had never been in contact with any mental health services because of the voices, even though some of them had been hearing voices for decades. Participants were not distressed or worried about the voices; on the contrary they developed their own understanding, personal coping resources and beliefs in relation to the positive functions of the voices. These results indicate that voices cannot be considered merely as symptoms, but may be seen also as adaptation systems. Consequently, we should avoid trying to helping voice hearers to eliminate or deny voices, and rather we should help them to feel allowed to preserve them.