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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Hearing the Voice 2011/12

This page relates to Hearing the Voice events during 2011/12 - if you would like to know up to date information please visit:


Dr Charles Fernyhough (Psychology)

Professor Jane Macnaughton (Centre for Medical Humanities, School of Medicine & Health)

Professor Matthew Ratcliffe (Philosophy)

Professor Corinne Saunders (English Studies)

Professor Pat Waugh (English Studies)

Dr Angela Woods (School of Medicine & Health)

Professor Chris Cook (Theology)

Dr Simon McCarthy-Jones (Psychology)

Dr Susanne Weis (Psychology)

Hearing the Voice is a multidisciplinary project aiming to achieve a better understanding of the experience of hearing voices in the absence of any external stimuli (termed auditory verbal hallucinations in a medical context). The project has four key interrelated aims. The first is to achieve a better understanding of the phenomenology of hearing voices (what is the experience actually like?). The second is to address the hermeneutics of voice-hearing (how do we interpret the experience, and what does it mean?). Third, the project aims to use results from the first two areas of investigation to inform our understanding of hearing voices at the level of cognitive neuroscience. Finally, the study aims 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 a unique interdisciplinary approach. The team (PI: Charles Fernyhough) includes members from the departments of English Studies, Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology and Religion, as well as the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health. All team members are members or affiliates of the Centre for Medical Humanities. The team are supported by an international Advisory Board consisting of leading thinkers and experts by experience.

IAS support for Hearing the Voice in the Futures II theme includes the award of fellowships to the internationally renowned founders of the Hearing Voices Movement, Prof Marius Romme and Dr Sandra Escher. The Hearing Voices Movement has profoundly altered how the experience of hearing voices is perceived, severing its necessary links to pathology, and giving voice-hearers a platform to speak of their experiences. A second IAS Fellowship has been awarded to the psychologist Prof Gail Hornstein, whose work on the meaning of voices provides a natural fit with Hearing the Voice. In addition to public engagement activities, talks and seminars, a conference on voice-hearing will also be held with support of the IAS. This will take place on 24-25 November 2011 at Durham University and will be by invitation. For further details please contact Dr Charles Fernyhough.

The conference is supported by the Wellcome Trust.