Romme and Escher (1989) reported that 70% of voice hearers began to hear voices following a traumatic event. This study was therefore designed to examine the effects of trauma on predisposition to auditory and visual hallucinations in the general population. The study also examined the role of beliefs about voices and metacognitive beliefs about thoughts in predisposition to hallucinations, and tested the specific hypothesis that dissociative experiences would predict predisposition to auditory hallucinations. Sixty-four non-clinical subjects were asked to complete questionnaires assessing interpretations of voices, predisposition to hallucinations, metacognitive beliefs, PTSD symptomatology, experience of trauma, trauma-related cognitions and dissociative experiences. The study found an association between trauma-related measures (negative cognitions about the world and all dissociation variables) and predisposition to both auditory and visual hallucinations. It was found that participants who had experienced certain specific life events scored significantly higher on predisposition to auditory hallucinations (bereavement, physical assault and emotional abuse) and on predisposition to visual hallucinations (bullying). Multiple regression analyses demonstrated that both metacognitive beliefs and dissociative processes explained significant proportions of the variance in predisposition to both auditory and visual hallucinations. These results suggest an association between trauma and predisposition to auditory hallucinations. The theoretical and clinical implications of the findings are discussed.
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