Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices

Hearing voices is a very personal experience, differing from person to person in terms of what the voices say and the life events that provoke them.

When analysed properly, the relationship between the voices and the life history can show that the voices make sense when looking at the circumstances in life that provoke them (Romme et. al).

Core Concept of a new approach to Hearing Voices

  • Hearing voices in itself is not a sign of a mental illness, but a sign of a problem.
  • Becoming a patient is due to the inability to cope with voices and underlying problems.

What do we mean by “Hearing Voices”

  • Auditory hallucinations or hearing things others cannot.
  • Typical diagnostic feature of psychosis, most commonly schizophrenia.
  • Has come to include other unusual experiences, seeing or feeling things others cannot.
  • Often associated with “unusual beliefs”.

Voices may be experienced in different ways

  • In the head
  • Outside the body
  • In the ears
  • In some other part of the body

They may be

  • Male
  • Female
  • Both sexes
  • Genderless
  • Known to the voice hearer
  • Unknown to the voice hearer
  • One voice or several

They may be:

  • critical
  • approving
  • instructive
  • guiding
  • advising
  • repetitive thoughts
  • frightening
  • negative
  • unwelcome

‘Voices” include sounds, music and intrusive thoughts.

What is the prevalence of voice hearing in our society?

There has been much research and many studies done, particularly over the past 30 years, on the prevalence of voice hearing.

The most reliable statistics show that:

  • Between 6% and 10% of the population hear voices (regularly and recurring)

Why do people hear voices?

Again, research and studies have determined that:

  • Between 75% and 85% of people who hear voices can attribute the onset of the voices to a traumatic event or events in their life.

Some causes include:

  • Neurological reasons
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional neglect/abuse
  • High levels of stress
  • Being bullied
  • Bereavement
  • Solitary confinement
  • The use of certain drugs
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Adolescent problems
  • Other traumatic experiences

What/Who is the “Hearing Voices Movement”?

  • The international Hearing Voices Movement is a worldwide initiative, consisting of Organisations, Networks, Groups and Individuals that share some common values.
  • The Hearing Voices Movement is represented in over 26 countries across 5 continents.
  • The Hearing Voices Movement “sees voices as a complex, significant and meaningful reaction to life events that should be explored, rather than a symptom of illness to be ignored”.

What are “Hearing Voices Groups”

Hearing voices groups are social/support groups, creating an environment that encourage and promote:

  • Self-empowerment
  • Interdependence, and
  • A view of members as “experts by their own lived experience”.

The groups are not therapy or clinical groups.

Groups provide:

  • Acceptance and a sense that one is not alone.
  • A safe place to talk about voices and other associated experiences.
  • An opportunity to learn what voices mean and how to gain control over the experience.

How can I learn more?

There is a wide range of information on this website to assist you in learning more about hearing voices.

The information is designed for people with lived experience, carers, family and friends, and mental health workers and professionals who work with voices hearers.

These include:

 Youth Hearing Voices

  • Go to Youth Hearing Voices which provides further information specific to “youth” voice hearers.



  • The Foundation runs a variety of training courses and workshops on voice hearing. Go to Training Courses, to see what courses are available and the training schedule.


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