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Hear Today, Not gone Tomorrow? An Exploratory Longitudinal Study of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations (Hearing Voices)

  • Nicky Hartigan (a1), Simon McCarthy-Jones (a2) and Mark Hayward (a3)


Background: Despite an increasing volume of cross-sectional work on auditory verbal hallucinations (hearing voices), there remains a paucity of work on how the experience may change over time. Aims: The first aim of this study was to attempt replication of a previous finding that beliefs about voices are enduring and stable, irrespective of changes in the severity of voices, and do not change without a specific intervention. The second aim was to examine whether voice-hearers’ interrelations with their voices change over time, without a specific intervention. Method: A 12-month longitudinal examination of these aspects of voices was undertaken with hearers in routine clinical treatment (N = 18). Results: We found beliefs about voices’ omnipotence and malevolence were stable over a 12-month period, as were styles of interrelating between voice and hearer, despite trends towards reductions in voice-related distress and disruption. However, there was a trend for beliefs about the benevolence of voices to decrease over time. Conclusions: Styles of interrelating between voice and hearer appear relatively stable and enduring, as are beliefs about the voices’ malevolent intent and power. Although there was some evidence that beliefs about benevolence may reduce over time, the reasons for this were not clear. Our exploratory study was limited by only being powered to detect large effect sizes. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to Simon McCarthy-Jones, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia. E-mail:


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Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
  • ISSN: 1352-4658
  • EISSN: 1469-1833
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Hear Today, Not gone Tomorrow? An Exploratory Longitudinal Study of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations (Hearing Voices)

  • Nicky Hartigan (a1), Simon McCarthy-Jones (a2) and Mark Hayward (a3)
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