Frequently Asked Questions
Who are we and what do we do?
What is the goal of Hearing the Voice?
How important is it to carry out research on this subject?
How many people are involved and from which fields of experience?
What is your relationship to the Hearing Voices Movement, which views voice-hearing as a meaningful human experience?
Who funds us?
What is voice hearing? How common is it?
Typically, what do people hear when they hear voices? How often do people hear voices?
Do people actually hear voices or is it a hallucination?
What happens to people when they hear voices?
Are the voices identifiable to them? Can they be people who are or were in their lives?
Are voice-hearing experiences always auditory experiences?
How many people in Britain hear voices?
Which notable figures in history heard voices?
Voices aren’t just a symptom of psychosis
What disorders are hearing voices associated with? It is associated with schizophrenia but how accurate is this association?
What about those people who hear voices but do not have a psychiatric diagnosis? What is their experience like?
To read more about this study, please see Dein, S. and Littlewood, R. ‘The Voice of God’ (2007). Anthropology and Medicine 14 vol. 2, 213-228.
Many writers also report experiencing the presence, agency and voices of the characters they create in their work. For more information about what their experience is like, please see our Writers’ Inner Voices project.
Research into voice-hearing in people without a psychiatric diagnosis is at a very early stage, and we need to know much more about these experiences before we can draw any conclusions about whether they are the same or different to the voices experienced in clinical cases.
Can hearing voices be a positive thing?
Voices: Explanations and Interpretations
What are the reasons for people hearing voices?
What is the difference between someone hearing their own inner voice and hearing a different voice?
Do we know what happens to the brain when someone is hearing a voice?
What kind of help is out there for people who hear voices? What advice would you give to them?
Voice hearing experiences are fairly common and are not in themselves necessarily a cause for concern. If you find that these experiences continue to cause significant distress or interfere with your relationships or daily activities, you should seek the advice of your GP or family doctor and seek other sources of sympathetic support. In the UK, the Hearing Voices Network offers information, support and understanding to people who hear voices and those who support them. Voice Collective in London also provides some excellent online resources aimed at young people experiencing voices and visions. You might also find it helpful to engage with other people who hear voices. If you live in the North-East of England, and are looking for a support group in the region, you may find our map of Hearing Voices groups helpful. This can be found on our ‘Looking for Support?’ page.
What is the role of medication in helping people cope with distressing voices?
People who find their voices distressing and seek clinical help may be prescribed anti-psychotic medication in order to help them cope. The medication does not necessarily make the voices go away, but it can make them seem more distant and less noticeable. Some anti-psychotics have serious side effects, such as movement disorders (e.g limb stiffness, tardive dyskinesia) and weight gain, which can lead to other health problems like diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Many people who experience distressing or disruptive voices find taking medication helpful, while others find that ‘talking therapies’ and attending a peer support group are more beneficial. If you have been prescribed medication to help you cope with distressing voices, it is important not to stop taking this without the help of your care team. Stopping medication suddenly can be dangerous and can make you feel worse – for example, by leading to withdrawal symptoms or ‘rebound psychosis’. If you do wish to stop taking your medication, you should talk to your care team about devising a programme of gradual withdrawal. Useful reading: Allen J. Francis, ‘Hearing Voices: A Dialogue with Eleanor Longden’ , Psychology Today, September 2013 Joanna Moncrieff, ‘Models of Drug Action’, November 2013.