Angels at our Tables: A summary of the findings from a 3-year research project into New Zealanders’ Experiences of Hearing Voices
Vanessa Beavan 1, John Read 2, and Claire Cartwright 3
In 2003, researchers at the University of Auckland began developing a project to investigate the experience of hearing voices in the general New Zealand population. The idea for the project was based on international research suggesting that hearing voices is a relatively common experience, reported by approximately 5 to 10% of the general population. Findings from these international studies also demonstrated that voices could be experienced in many different ways, from positive and enriching to negative and distressing.
Rationale and objectives of the research:
The New Zealand study had 4 main objectives:
- To map the range of hearing voices experiences in the general population. This included investigating topographical characteristics such as content, form and identity of voices, as well as the impact the experience has on people’s lives.
- To explore voice-hearers’ own explanatory models and analyse how these relate to the ways in which their voices are experienced.
- To increase knowledge about effective ways of managing voices. This included identifying coping strategies that voice-hearers use and evaluating their effectiveness, as well as exploring voice-hearers’ experiences with mental health agencies and other support services.
- To seek out and describe the essential structure of the phenomenon of hearing voices, in an attempt to provide a definition of this phenomenon that will fit across the range of different voice-hearing experiences.
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