Finding meaning in voices

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People have lots of different ways of understanding or making sense of voices. Some people are happy to view their voices as symptoms of an illness; others see them as meaningful experiences that have their roots in unresolved emotional problems and traumatic or problematic life events. For others still, voices are an important part of spiritual or religious experience, or linked to creative processes such as writing, making music or other artistic pursuits.

People do not always feel free to choose what voices mean to them. The process of making sense of voices can be long, complex and involve other people, including other voice-hearers, family members, friends and clinicians.

Eleanor Longden: ‘The voices in my head’

Dr Eleanor Longden, a research psychologist at the Psychosis Research Unit (PRU) in Manchester is an articulate and impassioned speaker on the experience of hearing voices. In this TED talk from February 2013, she provides an account of her own voice-hearing experiences and explains how she came to view her voices as ‘a sane reaction to insane circumstances’.

If you’d like to find out more about the different ways people make sense of voice-hearing, or have understood their experiences, you might find the following sections of this website useful:

Voices and spirituality
Voices and creativity
A history of voices


There are many different reasons why people might hear voices. This part of the site explores some of the theories that dominate current psychological and neuroscientific research.

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