Hear today, not gone tomorrow? An exploratory longitudinal study of auditory verbal hallucinations (hearing voices)

Nicky Hartigan, Simon McCarthy-Jones*, Mark Hayward

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Despite an increasing volume of cross-sectional work on auditory verbal hallucinations (hearing voices), there remains a paucity of work on how the experience may change over time. Aims: The first aim of this study was to attempt replication of a previous finding that beliefs about voices are enduring and stable, irrespective of changes in the severity of voices, and do not change without a specific intervention. The second aim was to examine whether voice-hearers' interrelations with their voices change over time, without a specific intervention. Method: A 12-month longitudinal examination of these aspects of voices was undertaken with hearers in routine clinical treatment (N = 18). Results: We found beliefs about voices' omnipotence and malevolence were stable over a 12-month period, as were styles of interrelating between voice and hearer, despite trends towards reductions in voice-related distress and disruption. However, there was a trend for beliefs about the benevolence of voices to decrease over time. Conclusions: Styles of interrelating between voice and hearer appear relatively stable and enduring, as are beliefs about the voices' malevolent intent and power. Although there was some evidence that beliefs about benevolence may reduce over time, the reasons for this were not clear. Our exploratory study was limited by only being powered to detect large effect sizes. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)117-123
    Number of pages7
    JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


    • Psychosis
    • Schizophrenia
    • Voice-hearing


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