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Type: Theses
Title: Voices are what they say: a study of language in the experience of hearing voices
Author: Smith, Keith Lindsay
Issue Date: 2016
School/Discipline: School of Medicine
Abstract: Studies of people’s experiences of hearing voices (auditory verbal hallucinations) have traditionally focused on such areas as number, type, frequency, severity and auditory features. In the last two decades, cognitive-behavioural therapy research has emphasised the role of what hearers believe about their voices. More recent qualitative studies recognise the importance of their relationship to their voices, and the meaning of these experiences in their lives. However, the verbatim verbal behaviour of voices has received minimal attention. On the whole, descriptions of voices are included as illustrative ‘soundbites’ and rarely form the main content of discussion. Moreover, these studies do not focus on the detail of individual hearer’s experiences of their voices. The present study addresses the current gap in the literature by describing how hearers represent what their voices say. The design of the study drew on qualitative methods. Seven people with a clinical history of hearing voices participated in a series of open-ended interviews, with the addition in three cases of parents or partners, and two treating psychiatrists. Transcripts of recorded interviews were coded for how hearers referred to their experiences, and voice content analysed in terms of their pragmatic function to demonstrate how voices interacted with hearers. In addition, the tools of systemic functional linguistics were applied to map how voices use language to represent and evaluate the hearer’s world. Four main findings provide evidence for the individual nature of hearers’ representations of their voices. The first finding is that hearers use a wide variety of terms to designate their experiences, including metaphors and descriptive phrases that often refer to their voices as acts of communication. Second, voices draw on a range of common communicative functions beyond ‘commands’ and ‘commentary’, which distinctively characterise their verbal behaviour as both positive and negative forms of social interaction. Third, the content of voices features a number of grammatical patterns in which voices are represented as both compelling agents in a material world and interpreters of its underlying meaning. Fourth, the evaluative language that voices use concentrates on appraisals relating to hearers’ competency, value and moral integrity. Together these findings provide the first systematic account of how different hearers use language in representing the verbal behaviour of voices. The main recommendation of the study is to include a linguistic perspective in future phenomenological research, with the ultimate aim that such an approach could lead to a contribution to therapeutic approaches which aim to improve hearers’ relationships with their voices.
Advisor: Goldney, Robert Donald
Barrett, Robert John
Crichton, Jonathan
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Medicine, 2016.
Keywords: hearing voices
auditory hallucinations
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/58b8fc37007fe
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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