Hearing Voices Network

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Hearing Voices Networks, closely related to the Hearing Voices Movement, are peer-focused national organisations for people who hear voices (commonly referred in western culture as auditory hallucinations) and supporting family members, activists and mental health practitioners. Members may or may not have a psychiatric diagnosis. Networks promote an alternative approach, where voices are not necessarily seen as signs of mental illness. Networks regard hearing voices as a meaningful and understandable, although unusual, human variation.[1] In themselves voices are not seen as the problem. Rather it is the relationship the person has with their voices that is regarded as the main issue.[2]


In the past twenty years twenty-nine national Hearing Voices Networks have been established in the world. There are also regional networks in Australia (Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and southwest Australia), Quebec, UK (Greater London, southwest England) and the United States. The National and Regional Networks are affiliated to the international umbrella organisation known as INTERVOICE (The International Network for Training Education and Research into Hearing Voices) and often referred to as the Hearing Voices Movement. Within these international networks, the combined experience of voice-hearers and professionals have overseen the development of ways of working with people who hear voices that draw on the value of peer support and which help people to live peacefully and positively with their experiences.


The principal roles of Hearing Voices Networks are as follows:

  1. To support and develop local Hearing Voices Support Groups
  2. Raise awareness of the hearing voices approach
  3. To campaign for human rights and social justice for people who hear voices
  4. To provide information, advice and support to people who hear voices, their family, friends
  5. To provide training and education for mental health services and practitioners

Description and philosophy[edit]

The first hearing voices network was founded in the Netherlands in 1987 by the Dutch psychiatrist Marius Romme, the science journalist, Sandra Escher and voice hearer, Patsy Hage.[3] This was followed by the founding of the UK network in 1988 based in Manchester, England. Subsequently Networks have been established in 29 countries over the world, including Australia (2005), Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Denmark (2005), England (1988), Finland (1996), France (2011), Hungary (2013), Germany (1998), Greece, Ireland (2005), Italy, Japan, Kenya, Palestine, Malaysia, New Zealand (2007), Netherlands (1987), Norway, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, USA (2010) and Wales (2001).[4] The first 15 years of the development of the global networks is outlined by Adam James in his book "Raising Our Voices" (2001) [5]

These networks provide support to voice hearers specifically through the establishment of local hearing voices support groups, where people who hear voices are afforded the opportunity in a non-medical setting to share their experiences, coping mechanisms and explanatory frameworks. These groups are run in different ways and some are exclusive to individuals who hear voices, whilst others are supported by mental health workers.[6]

National networks have developed considerably over the years and host websites, publish newsletters, guides to the voice hearing experience and workbooks where individuals can record and explore their own experiences with voice hearing.[7]

Dutch psychiatrist Marius Romme, the co-author of Accepting Voices,[8] has provided an intellectual basis for these group. He advocates a view that the hearing of voices is not necessarily an indication of mental illness, and that patients should be encouraged to explore their voices and negotiate with them.

Hearing Voices Groups[edit]

The development of peer support groups for voice-hearers, known as “hearing voices groups” (HVGs), are an essential part of the work of Hearing Voices Networks throughout the world. For instance there are over 180 groups in England, 60 in Australia and growing numbers of groups in the USA. World Map of Hearing Voices Groups The groups are based in a range of settings including community centres, libraries, pubs, churches, child and adolescent mental health services, prisons and inpatient units.

Hearing Voices Groups are based on an ethos of self-help, mutual respect and empathy. They provide a safe space for people to share their experiences and support one another. They are peer support groups, involving social support and belonging, not therapy or treatment. Hearing Voices Groups are intended to help people to understand and come to terms with their voices and begin to recover their lives.[9]

Members are encouraged to talk about their experiences, to learn what the voices mean for them and how to gain control over their experiences. In voices groups, people are enabled to choose the way they want to manage their experiences. Voices groups assist people to access information and resources so they can make their own choices. Furthermore, voices groups allow people to explore the relationship between their life history and their experience of hearing voices, should they want to do so.[10]

Studies have found that after attending hearing voices groups, members’ hospital bed use decreased. There was also a trend for less formal admissions. People used far more coping strategies and were able to talk to far more people about their voices after attending groups. Learning coping strategies was something people valued about groups and one of the common topics was to explore and experiment with different coping strategies. After attending groups, self-esteem increased. User empowerment also increased. Feeling more empowered is one of the aims of groups particularly valued by voice hearers and may be associated, not only with the voices themselves, but also with other aspects of recovery and getting better. People’s relationships with the voices were mostly improved. They heard the voices less frequently. The voices were perceived as less powerful (omnipotent) relative to them. People felt much better able to cope with their voices, and there were trends towards people feeling less controlled by their voices and feeling less alone. Perhaps most importantly, evaluations show that people improved in relation to what they had identified as their own goals for the group. [11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McCarthy-Jones S (2013) Hearing Voices - The Histories, Causes and Meanings of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp.346-354
  2. ^ Romme M. Escher S. Dillon J. Corstens D. Morris M. (2009) Living with Voices: 50 Stories of Recovery, PCCS Books/Birmingham City University
  3. ^ Escher S. Romme M. The Hearing Voices Movement, Chapter 28 page 385 in “Hallucinations” by Jan Dirk Blom and Iris E.C. Sommer, Editors Springer, New York; Dordrecht; Heidelberg; London (2012).
  4. ^ INTERVOICE World Map https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=206854668906561198640.0004d62ee0abdfd28256e&dg=feature
  5. ^ Adam James, Raising Our Voices: An Account of the Hearing Voices Movement, Handsell Publishing (2001)
  6. ^ Bracken, Pat; Thomas, P (24 March 2001). "Postpsychiatry: a new direction for mental health". British Medical Journal 322 (7288): 726. doi:10.1136/bmj.322.7288.724. PMC 1119907. PMID 11264215. 
  7. ^ Martin, P.J. (2000). "Hearing voices and listening to those that hear them". Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 7 (2): 136. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2850.2000.00276.x. 
  8. ^ Romme, M. A. J. , Escher A. D. M. A. C. (Eds.). (1993). Accepting voices. London: Mind
  9. ^ Downs J. (Ed), (2001) Starting and Supporting Voices Groups: A Guide to setting up and running support groups for people who hear voices, see visions or experience tactile or other sensations. Hearing Voices Network, Manchester, England
  10. ^ Casstevens, Willa J.; Coker, Joy; Sanders, Tia D. (2012) Mentored Self-Help: A Promising Approach to Exploring Voices, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 14, Number 2, pp. 110-124(15)
  11. ^ Meddings S, Walley L, Collins T, Tullett F, McEwan B. (2006) The voices don't like it. Mental Health Today. Sep:26-30.
  12. ^ A Ruddle, O Mason, T Wykes (2011) A review of Hearing voices groups: Evidence and mechanisms of change, Clinical psychology review


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  • Baker, P. (1995, 2011), The Voice Inside, P&P Publications
  • Romme M. Escher S. (1996) (Eds) Understanding voices: coping with auditory hallucinations and confusing realities, Rijksuniversitiet Maastricht, Limburg, Holland and English edition, Handsell Publications
  • Coleman R. Smith M. (1997, 2005) Working with Voices II: Victim to Victor, P&P Publications
  • Watkins J. (1998, 2008) Hearing Voices: A Common Human Experience, Michelle Anderson Publishing
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  • Leudar I. Thomas P. (2000) Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity: Studies of Verbal Hallucinations, Routledge
  • Blackman L., Hearing Voices, Embodiment and Experience (2001), Free Association Books, London
  • Downs J. (Ed), (2001) Starting and Supporting Voices Groups, A Guide to setting up and running support groups for people who hear voices, see visions or experience tactile or other sensations. * * * * Hearing Voices Network, Manchester, England
  • Downs J. (Ed), (2001), Coping with Voices And Visions, A guide to helping people who Experience hearing voices, seeing visions, tactile or other Sensations, Hearing Voices Network, Manchester, England
  • James A. (2001), Raising our Voices: An Account of the Hearing Voices Movement, Handsell Publishing
  • Romme M. Escher S. Dillon, J. Corstens D. Morris M. eds (2009) "Living with Voices: 50 Stories of Recovery", PCCS Books/Birmingham City University
  • Romme, M and Escher, S. eds. (2011) Accepting and Making Sense of Voices In Psychosis as a personal crisis: an experienced based approach, Routledge
  • Simon McCarthy-Jones (2013), Hearing Voices: The Histories, Causes and Meanings of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
  • Eleanor Longden (2013), Learning from the Voices in My Head, TED Books

Articles, Chapters and Pamphlets[edit]

  • Christine A. (1990), Heard but not seen, Independent on Sunday
  • Baker P.K (1990), I hear voices and I’m glad to!, Critical Public Health, No. 4, 1990, pp 21–27
  • Baker P.K (1995) Accepting the Inner Voices, Nursing Times, Vol. 91, No 31, 1995, pp 59–61
  • Baker P.K (1996) Can you hear me, a research and practice summary, Handsell UK
  • Barret T.R and Etheridge J.B (1992) Verbal hallucinations in Normals I: People who hear voices Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 6, pp. 379–387
  • Benthall R.P (1990) The illusion of Reality: a review and integration of psychological research into psychotic hallucinations, Psychological Bulletin, no. 107, pp. 82–95
  • Bentall R.P., Claridge G.S. & Slade P.D (1988), Abandoning the Concept of “Schizophrenia”: Some Implications of Validity Arguments for Psychological Research into Psychotic Phenomena British Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol.27, pp. 303–324
  • Bentall R.P., Claridge G.S. Slade P.D (1989), The Multidimensional Nature of Schizotypal traits: A factor analytic study with normal subjects British Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol.?
  • Benthall R.P., Haddock G. Slade P.D (1994), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for persistent auditory hallucinations: from theory to therapy, Behavioral Psychotherapy No. 25, pp. 51–56
  • Bentall R.P., Jackson H.J Pilgrim D. (1988), Abandoning the concept of “schizophrenia: Some implications of validity arguments for psychological research into psychotic phenomena, British Journal of Clinical Psychology, No. 27, pp. 303 – 324
  • Bentall R.P. Kaney S. Dewey. M (1991), Paranoia and Social Reasoning: An Attribution Theory Analysis, British Journal of Clinical Psychology, No. 30, pp. 13–23
  • Benthall R.P Slade P.D. (1995) Reliability of a scale for measuring disposition towards hallucinations: a brief report, Person. Individ. Diff. Vol 6, No. 4, pp. 527–529
  • Bentall R. Haddock G. Cognitive behaviour therapy for persistent auditory hallucinations, (1990) Behaviour Therapy 25: 51 – 66;
  • Chadwick P.D.J. and Birchwood M.J, (1994), Challenging the omnipotence of voices: A cognitive approach to auditory hallucinations, British Journal of Psychiatry, No. 164, pp. 190–201
  • Cullberg J., (1991) Recovered versus non-recovered schizophrenic patients among those who have had intensive psychotherapy, Acta Psychiatr Scand. Vol. 84, pp. 242–245
  • Ensink B. (1993) Confusing Realities: A study of child sexual abuse and psychiatric symptoms Amsterdam, VU University Press (1992) and also Trauma: A study of child abuse and hallucinations, in Accepting Voices Eds M. Romme and S. Escher
  • Eaton W.W., Romanoski A., Anthony J.C., Nestadt G. (1991) Screening for psychosis in the general population with a self-report interview, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, No. 179, pp 689–693
  • Falloon I.R.H. and Talbot R.E. (1981) Persistent auditory hallucinations: coping mechanisms and implications for management, Psychological Medicine, No.11, pp. 329–339
  • Freedland J. (1995), Hearing is believing, The Guardian (UK Newspaper), April 22
  • Grierson, M. (1991), A Report on the Manchester Hearing Voices Conference November 1990 Hearing Voices Network
  • Haddock G., Benthall R.P and Slade P. (1996), Psychological treatments for auditory hallucinations, focussing or distraction? pp. 45–71 in Cognitive, Behavioural Interventions with Psychotic Disorders * Routledge, London Therapy, Eds. Haddock G. and Slade P
  • Haddock G., Bentall R.P and Slade, P.D: Psychological treatmment of chronic auditory hallucinations: two case studies (1993) Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapy 21: 335 – 46;
  • Haddock G Slade P. Empowering people who hear voices in cognitive behavioral interventions with psychotic disorders, Routledge, London (1996)
  • Heery M. W. (1989), Inner Voice Experiences: an exploratory study of 30 cases Journal of Transpersonal Psychiatry, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 73–82
  • Holmes D. (1999) Hearing Voices: Hillary, Angels, and O.J. to the Voice-Producing Brain Shenandoah Psychology Press
  • Leudar I. Thomas P. Guidelines for Establishing Pragmatic Aspects of Voices – Voice Hearer Talk (1994) Manchester: Department of Psychology, University of Manchester
  • Leudar, P Thomas and M. Johnston: Self Repair for in dialogues of schizophrenics: effects of hallucinations and negative symptoms, (1992) Brain and Language 43: 487 – 511
  • Leudar P. Thomas and M. Johnston: Self monitoring in speech production: effects of verbal hallucinations and negative symptoms (1994) Psychological Medicine
  • Leudar I. Thomas P. McNally D. Glinsky A. What can voices do with words? Pragmatics of verbal hallucinations (1997)Psychological Medicine
  • Lineham, T., (1993), Hearing is Believing, New Satatesman and Society, 26.3.93, pp. 18–19
  • Lockhart A. R. (1975), Mary’s Dog is an Ear Mother: Listening to the Voices of Psychosis, Psychological Perspectives Vol. 6, No 2, pp. 144–160
  • Miller L. J. O’Connor R.N. DiPasquale T. (1993), Patients’ Attitudes Toward Hallucinations American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 150, no.4, pp. 584–588
  • Posey T.B. and Losch M.E. (1984), Auditory hallucinations of hearing voices in 375 normal subjects Imagination, Cognition and Personality, vol 3, no.2, pp. 99–113
  • Rector and Seeman (1992) Auditory Hallucinations in Women and Men, Schizophrenia Research, vol 7, pp. 233– 236
  • T.R. Sarbin (1990), Towards the Obsolescence of the Schizophrenia Hypothesis, The Journal of Mind and Behaviour, vol. 11. No.3/4, pp. 259–283
  • Sidgewick H.A. (1894) Report on the census of hallucinations, Proceedings of the Society of Psychical Research, No. 26, pp. 25–394, Siegel R. eds. (1992), Fire in the Brain: Clinical Tales of Hallucination, Dutton Books New York
  • Slade P.D. (1993) Models of Hallucination: from theory to practice in David, A..S and Cutting, J. (Eds.) The Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia; Earlbaum, London
  • Slade P.D Bentall R.P. (1988) Sensory Deception; towards a scientific analysis of hallucinations Croom Helm, London
  • Stephens G. L. Graham G.(2000) When Self-Consciousness Breaks: Alien Voices and Inserted Thoughts, Philosophical Pychopathology Series, Bradford Books
  • Tarrier N. Harwood S. Yusupoff L. Beckett R. & Baker A. (1990), Coping Strategy Enhancement (CSE): Method of Treating Residual Schizophrenic Symptoms Behavioural Psychotherapy, No.18, pp. 283–293
  • Tien A.Y. (1991) Distributions of hallucinations in the population Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, No.26, pp. 287–292
  • Tiihonen, Hari, Naukkarinen, Rimon, Jousimaki, Kajola (1992) Modified Activity of Human Auditory Cortex during Auditory Hallucinations, American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 149, No.2, pp. 225–257
  • Yusopoff L. Tarrier N. (1996) Coping strategy enhancement for persistent hallucinations and delusions, pp. 86–103, in Cognitive, Behavioural Interventions with Psychotic Disorders, Routledge, London Therapy, Eds. Haddock G. and Slade

External links[edit]