Hearing voices in a non-psychiatric population.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Many people hear voices but do not access psychiatric services and their experiences are largely unknown, not least because of the difficulty in contacting such people. This study investigates the beliefs held about voices, distress experienced, and provides a topographical account of the experience of hearing voices in a sample of individuals who hear voices in a non-psychiatric population. METHOD A quantitative questionnaire internet-based study with a within-subjects and between-subjects design was used. The internet was used to make contact with people who hear voices. One hundred and eighty-four participants in the general population who heard voices completed measures online assessing anxiety, depression, and beliefs about their dominant voice. RESULTS Participants reported a broad range of experiences associated with hearing voices, some in keeping with the previous research on clinical populations. CONCLUSION The use of the internet to recruit and research non-clinical samples of people who hear voices is supported. This study provides details regarding demographic information and the experience of voice hearing from a fairly large sample of people who hear voices in a non-psychiatric population. It lends support to the idea that voice hearing occurs on a continuum, with evidence that many people hear voices in the general population and are not distressed by the experience.

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