The form and the content of chronic auditory hallucinations were compared in three cohorts, namely patients with schizophrenia, patients with a dissociative disorder, and nonpatient voice-hearers. The form of the hallucinatory experiences was not significantly different between the three groups. The subjects in the nonpatient group, unlike those in the patient groups, perceived their voices as predominantly positive: they were not alarmed or upset by their voices and felt in control of the experience. In most patients, the onset of auditory hallucinations was preceded by either a traumatic event or an event that activated the memory of earlier trauma. The significance of this study is that it presents evidence that the form of the hallucinations experienced by both patient and nonpatient groups is similar, irrespective of diagnosis. Differences between groups were predominantly related to the content, emotional quality, and locus of control of the voices. In this study the disability incurred by hearing voices is associated with (the reactivation of) previous trauma and abuse.
1 Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, Academic Hospital Maastricht, P.O. Box 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, The Netherlands. Send reprint requests to Dr. Honig.
2 Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.