Auditory Hallucinations: Psychotic Symptom or Dissociative Experience?

Andrew Moskowitz, Dirk Corstens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    While auditory hallucinations are considered a core psychotic symptom, central to the diagnosis of schizophrenia, it has long been recognized that persons who are not psychotic may also hear voices. There is an entrenched clinical belief that distinctions can be made between these groups, typically, on the basis of the perceived location or the ‘third-person’ perspective of the voices. While it is generally believed that such characteristics of voices have significant clinical implications, and are important in the differential diagnosis between dissociative and psychotic disorders, there is no research evidence in support of this. Voices heard by persons diagnosed schizophrenic appear to be indistinguishable, on the basis of their experienced characteristics, from voices heard by persons with dissociative disorders or by persons with no mental disorder at all. On this and other bases outlined in this article, we argue that hearing voices should be considered a dissociative experience, which under some conditions may have pathological consequences. In other words, we believe that, while voices may occur in the context of a psychotic disorder, they should not be considered a psychotic symptom.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-63
    Number of pages29
    JournalJournal of Psychological Trauma
    Volume6
    Issue number2-3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Keywords

    • auditory hallucinations
    • dissociation
    • psychosis
    • diagnosis

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