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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 49 (2007) 11, 803 - 812

New research

Positive and negative auditory vocal hallucinations

S. Rutten, J. Beuckens, N. Boonstra, J.A. Jenner

Modern psychiatry emphasises the negative aspects of hearing voices. However, experience shows that some patients find these voices positive or useful.
aim To describe the life-time prevalence of hearing voices in a group of patients and the course of this phenomenon and to find out whether these patients find the hearing of voices positive and/or useful.
method The study population consisted of patients and former patients of the Voices Outpatient Department of the Groningen University Medical Centre. For this study the Positive and Useful Voices Inquiry, a self-report questionnaire was developed.
results The life-time prevalence of positive voices was 52%, whereas the life-time prevalence of useful voices was 40%. In the majority of patients the number of positive voices decreased and the number of useful remained the same. Positive voices provided protection, reassurance or companionship. Useful voices gave advice, assist with daily activities or decision-making. Thirtytwo percent of the patients wished to continue hearing positive voices, 40% wished to continue hearing useful voices. These wishes were correlated to patients feeling that they have control over these voices.
conclusion The prevalence of positive and useful voices is quite considerable and is therefore therapeutically relevant. A substantial proportion of the patients wishes to continue hearing these types of voices.

keywords auditory hallucinations, positive, psychotic disorder, useful, voice