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Voice-hearing and emotion: an empirical study

AUSTIN, ROSALIND,VICTORIA (2018) Voice-hearing and emotion: an empirical study. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (PhD Thesis) - Accepted Version


This survivor‒researcher-led project investigates emotional aspects of the experience of hearing voices in the general English adult population. Although voice-hearing is strongly associated with distress in clinical as well as everyday contexts, surprisingly little is known about the complexity and variety of emotions experienced by voice-hearers and the significance of space and spatial metaphors in making sense of them.
This thesis was inspired by the Maastricht approach to working with voices developed by the Dutch social psychiatrist Marius Romme and the researcher Sandra Escher. Romme and Escher’s analysis of the links between voice-hearing, people’s experiences of trauma and their emotions informed my choice of qualitative and creative methods to explore the emotional aspects of hearing voices. This empirical investigation is supported by an analysis of clinical and cultural accounts of the relations between voice-hearing, emotions and trauma, drawing on sources from the past and the present.
I conducted thirty semi-structured interviews with people who hear voices, recruited largely through two community mental health centres in different geographical locations over a period of twenty months. Data were thematically analysed. My findings build on existing research, which shows that the emotions associated with hearing voices relate to the kind and quality of relationship that participants have with their voices and the significance of these relationships within an individual’s life context. Particular attention was paid in this study to voice-hearers’ use of creative and embodied practices in managing the relationships with their voices, and the importance of acknowledging the effects of cultural dislocation as well as trauma in shaping voice-hearing experiences. My thesis shows that participants used a variety of techniques in order to assert real or imaginary boundaries in their interior and exterior worlds, with varying degrees of success. Drawing on work in cultural and emotional geography, this thesis makes an original contribution to the growing interdisciplinary literature about voice-hearing by demonstrating the significance of space and spatial metaphors in voice-hearers’ relationships with their voices.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Voice-hearing; auditory verbal hallucinations; emotions; trauma; spatial metaphors; cultural and emotional geography
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Sep 2018 16:53

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