Understanding the experiences of hearing voices and sounds others do not hear

Qual Health Res. 2013 Nov;23(11):1470-80. doi: 10.1177/1049732313507502. Epub 2013 Oct 11.


In this article, we aim to contribute to the understanding of how people with mental illness experience hearing voices and sounds that others do not hear in daily life. We conducted in-depth interviews with 14 people and analyzed the interviews using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. The themes we arrived at included the following: hearing someone else or myself, am I losing my mind?, and daily life recurrently dominated by opposing voices. Our overall understanding of how the voices and sounds were experienced in daily life was that the intentions of others resounded intrusively in the participants and disrupted their lives. The tones and contents of these perplexing perceptions echoed and amplified past, present, and future experiences and concerns. The results elucidate the value that exploring and attempting to understand people's daily life experiences of hearing voices and sounds might have for the voice hearer, his or her family, and health care providers.

Keywords: hermeneutics; interviews; lived experience; mental health and illness; mental health nursing; phenomenology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Voice