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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 58 (2016) 2, 122 - 129

Review article

Auditory verbal hallucinations in patients with borderline personality disorder

C. Zonnenberg, M.B.A. Niemantsverdriet, J.D. Blom, C.W. Slotema

background Traditionally, auditory verbal hallucinations (avh) experienced by patients with a borderline personality disorder (bpd) are considered to be rare, to have a ‘pseudo’-quality, and to cause little distress.
aim To provide an overview of studies of the prevalence and phenomenological characteristics of avhs in patients with a bpd, and of the ensuing degree of suffering.
method We performed a systematic literature search using PubMed and the Ovid database.
results 27% of patients with a bpd experience avh. Phenomenologically, these percepts are indistinguishable from those experienced by patients with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Hallucinations in several modalities were present in 50% of the patients with bpd. The mean time-span in which avh were experienced was 17 years, the mean frequency was several minutes per day. The degree of suffering was high and the patient’s life was interrupted to a moderate degree.
conclusion avh and other hallucinations are common in bpd. We advise clinicians to inquire directly whether patients experience them and to provide treatment whenever possible. However, one of the problems is, that evidence-based treatment methods such as antipsychotics, cognitive-behavioural therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation have not yet been studied systematically for this specific patient group.

keywords degree of suffering, hearing voices, prevalence, pseudo-hallucination, self-esteem