Report on the 2nd Meeting of the International Consortium on Hallucinations Research

The second biannual meeting of the ICHR (International Consortium on Hallucinations Research) was held at Durham University in September 2013. A full report on the meeting by organisers Flavie Waters, Angela Woods and Charles Fernyhough has just been published in Schizophrenia Bulletin. The report, which can be accessed in full here, summarises the presentations of each of the twelve working groups and identifies ten ‘hot spots’ for future hallucinations research.

AbstractThis article presents a report on the 2nd meeting of the International Consortium on Hallucination Research, held on September 12th and 13th 2013 at Durham University, UK. Twelve working groups involving specialists in each area presented their findings and sought to summarize the available knowledge, inconsistencies in the field, and ways to progress. The 12 working groups reported on the following domains of investigation: cortical organisation of hallucinations, nonclinical hallucinations, interdisciplinary approaches to phenomenology, culture and hallucinations, subtypes of auditory verbal hallucinations, a Psychotic Symptoms Rating Scale multisite study, visual hallucinations in the psychosis spectrum, hallucinations in children and adolescents, Research Domain Criteria behavioral constructs and hallucinations, new methods of assessment, psychological therapies, and the Hearing Voices Movement approach to understanding and working with voices. This report presents a summary of this meeting and outlines 10 hot spots for hallucination research, which include the in-depth examination of (1) the social determinants of hallucinations, (2) translation of basic neuroscience into targeted therapies, (3) different modalities of hallucination, (4) domain convergence in cross-diagnostic studies, (5) improved methods for assessing hallucinations in nonclinical samples, (6) using humanities and social science methodologies to recontextualize hallucinatory experiences, (7) developmental approaches to better understand hallucinations, (8) changing the memory or meaning of past trauma to help recovery, (9) hallucinations in the context of sleep and sleep disorders, and (10) subtypes of hallucinations in a therapeutic context.

  1. My mother is 82 she has been having hallucinations for over two years. She lives alone, her sister and her son live very near by. We have recently increased her social activity by going out each day and most evenings, this has had a number of beneficial effects.

    When mum is out of the house she ceases to see the hallucinations. It is when she is in her own home that the ” visitors” are there. They are very real and she will often talk to the ” visitors” although there is no verbal return. The images are always ” frozen” her front room is the school or staff room. There are children there and teachers, often described as characters, who have some connection with “types” she was familiar with when, my mum was a teacher for 20 years. a job she loved.

    When my mum is outside, she reverts back to her former self, before the hallucinations. It is however, becoming an increasing concern for us because, the “visitors” inhibit my mum from daily activities. She will not eat in the front room, because the children are there. she is worried that the children do not go near the fire, therefore, the fire is turned off. Things go missing like her keys, her glasses, etc. mum believes the children have taken them and hidden the items somewhere !

    At one level, usually outside the house, she recognises the hallucinations as hers, and understands we do not see them. In the house however, she finds it difficult that we do not see the visitors.

    Mum is very reluctant to visit the GP because she is worried she will not be believed or seen as “sick” she is concerned about taking any mind altering medication.

    Mum is aware of the research programme and is interested, as are we, her family, awaiting for further insights from your findings. Mum is on medication for ” eye condition” macular degeneration, she takes, blood pressure and cholesterol medication. She is generally in good health, although is getting increasingly confused.

    • Hi Joe,

      Thanks for getting in touch and for sharing your mother’s experiences.

      Voice-hearing is fairly common and is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, if the voices are interfering with her daily activities and relationships or causing her significant distress, then she should seek the advice of her family doctor or GP.

      We’re not clinicians and so unfortunately we cannot offer clinical advice. However, we have found that the sources of information collected on our ‘Looking for Support?’ page often prove useful to people who are seeking information and advice about their experiences.

      For example, in the UK, the Hearing Voices Network offers information, support and understanding to people who hear voices and those who care for and about them.

      Your mother (and family and carers) might also find it useful to engage with other people who hear voices. If you live in Scotland or the North-East of England, you might find our map of peer support groups in the region helpful. If you are based elsewhere, there is a world map of hearing voices groups that can help you to find a group in your area that is available here:

      We hope you and your mother find this information helpful. Please do stay in touch with us – if you would like more regular updates about the progress of our research into voice-hearing, you can subscribe to our mailing list here.

      With best wishes,
      Hearing the Voice