Many people who hear voices actually hear multiple different voices with distinctive qualities, and experience different effects from them, according to a study in The Lancet Psychiatry.
Led by Durham University researchers, the study collected answers from 153 people who completed an on-line questionnaire.
“Less than half the participants reported hearing purely auditory voices with 45 per cent reporting either thought-like or ‘inbetween’ voices with some thought-like and some acoustic qualities,” stated a press release about the study. “This finding challenges the view that hearing voices is always a perceptual or acoustic phenomenon, and may have implications for future neuroscientific studies of what is happening in the brain when people ‘hear’ voices.”
Many people felt bodily sensations “such as feeling hot or tingling sensations in their hands and feet,” stated the press release, and could experience either negative or positive emotions.
“It is crucial to study mental health and human experiences such as voice-hearing from a variety of different perspectives to truly find out what people are experiencing, not just what we think they must be experiencing because they have a particular diagnosis,” the lead researcher stated. “We hope this approach can help inform the development of future clinical interventions.”
Voices in people’s heads more complex than previously thought (Durham University press release on ScienceDaily, March 10, 2015)
Woods, Angela, Nev Jones, Ben Alderson-Day, Felicity Callard, and Charles Fernyhough. “Experiences of Hearing Voices: Analysis of a Novel Phenomenological Survey.” The Lancet Psychiatry. Accessed March 12, 2015. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00006-1. (Abstract)