A new phenomenological survey of auditory hallucinations

evidence for subtypes and implications for theory and practice.

Simon McCarthy-Jones*, Tom Trauer, Andrew MacKinnon, Eliza Sims, Neil Thomas, David L. Copolov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

138 Citations (Scopus)


A comprehensive understanding of the phenomenology of auditory hallucinations (AHs) is essential for developing accurate models of their causes. Yet, only 1 detailed study of the phenomenology of AHs with a sample size of N ≥ 100 has been published. The potential for overreliance on these findings, coupled with a lack of phenomenological research into many aspects of AHs relevant to contemporary neurocognitive models and the proposed (but largely untested) existence of AH subtypes, necessitates further research in this area. We undertook the most comprehensive phenomenological study of AHs to date in a psychiatric population (N = 199; 81% people diagnosed with schizophrenia), using a structured interview schedule. Previous phenomenological findings were only partially replicated. New findings included that 39% of participants reported that their voices seemed in some way to be replays of memories of previous conversations they had experienced; 45% reported that the general theme or content of what the voices said was always the same; and 55% said new voices had the same content/theme as previous voices. Cluster analysis, by variable, suggested the existence of 4 AH subtypes. We propose that there are likely to be different neurocognitive processes underpinning these experiences, necessitating revised AH models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-235
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • auditory verbal hallucinations
  • memory
  • schizophrenia

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