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Hearing the Voice

 Hearing the Voice

Hearing the Voice is an ambitious, interdisciplinary research project that aims to provide a better understanding of the experience of hearing voices in the absence of any external stimuli (termed ‘auditory verbal hallucinations’ in a medical context). Usually associated with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, voice-hearing is also an important aspect of many ordinary people’s lives. The experience has been richly described across cultures and historical eras, and raises profound questions about the neural foundations of language, the nature of thought and the unity of the self.

The project has four key interrelated objectives:

  1. To achieve a better understanding of the phenomenology of hearing voices. (What is the experience actually like?)
  2. To address the hermeneutics of voice-hearing. (How do we interpret the experience, and what does it mean?)
  3. To use the results of the first two areas of investigation to inform our understanding of hearing voices at the level of cognitive neuroscience
  4. To explore how the results of these three overlapping areas of research can inform the therapeutic management of the experience in cases where clinical help is sought.

To achieve these aims, we will utilise an interdisciplinary approach. Our research team, led by Professor Charles Fernyhough (PI) and Dr Angela Woods, includes academics from cognitive neuroscience, cultural studies, English literature, medical humanities, philosophy, psychiatry, psychology, theology and arts-in-health. It involves researchers from all three faculties of Durham University, along with clinicians, academics and ‘experts-by-experience’ from national and international partner institutions, including University College London, the University of Liverpool, and the University of Groningen.

The project team also includes an international Advisory Board.

Hearing the Voice is supported by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award in the Medical Humanities.



Our Work Packages



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Contact Details

Hearing the Voice
c/o School of Education
Durham University
Leazes Road
Durham
DH1 1SZ

Tel: +44 (0)191 3348163