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Hearing voices and other extraordinary experiences

This is a small repository of resources relating to voice hearing including articles, handouts and web links.


Easy test Creator

I wrote Easy Test Creator (ETC) to assist in the creation, administration and analysis of computerised and on-line tests, surveys or questionnaires. In the community mental health team I worked in we often employed various questionnaires and tests. This helped save time with entry, scoring and tracking change over time. ETC is particularly useful for researchers, clinicians, or those who simply wish to add a more sophisticated questionnaire to their web page. Some people may use this software to collate routine outcome data in clinical practice.

I placed the following scales on-line:
Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS)
Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)
Beliefs About Voices Questionnaire (BAVQ) - Amended
Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS)
CES-D Major Depressive Disorder Scale
Edinburgh postnatal major depressive disorder scale (EPDS)
Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) - Short Version
Health of the Nation Outcomes Scales (HoNOS)
Life Skills Profile (LSP)
Self-defeating Beliefs Questionnaire


Coping with voices

This is a handout that I sometimes give out during 'hearing voices' workshops. It provides some practical 'evidence based' guidance on some things that may help people control aspects of the voice hearing experience or give some relief to particularly intrusive voices. The sense that people can exert some control over the voice hearing experience is exceptionally important.

Journal Articles

Lakeman, R., & Cutcliffe, J. (2016). Diagnostic Sedition: Re-Considering the Ascension and Hegemony of Contemporary Psychiatric Diagnosis. Issues in Nursing, 37(2), 125-130

Historically, the publication of each edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM) has been accompanied by controversy. The publication of the latest edition (the DSM-5) has led to unprecedented critical commentary from authoritative voices from within psychiatry. Whereas, critical comment by mental health nurses has been negligible. This paper attempts to address this imbalance. It explores the history of diagnosis in psychiatry and drawing on recent critical commentary, and the rejection of the DSM by the National Institute of Health in future research endeavours, argues that the DSM-5 represents the latest in a long line of failed attempts to develop a valid, coherent and unifying taxonomy of mental illness. The implications for mental health nursing are briefly explored.

Lakeman, R. (2001). Making sense of the voices. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 38(5), 523-531.

Hearing voices is a common occurrence, and an experience of many people in psychiatric/mental health care. Nurses are challenged to provide care, which is empowering and helps people who hear voices. Nursing practice undertaken in partnership with the voice hearer and informed by a working explanatory model of hallucinations offers greater helping potential. This paper uses Slade's (1976. The British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 15, 415-423.) explanatory model as a framework for exploring interventions which may assist people in exerting some control over the experience and which might be used alongside pharmacological interventions. Principles and practical ideas for how nurses might assist people to cope with and make sense of the experience are explored.

Conference Presentations

Lakeman, R. (2000, 10 - 11 June 2001). Helping and hearing voices. Paper presented at the The North Queensland Sub-branch of the Australian and New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses Winter Symposium, Arcadia Resort, Magnetic Island, AU.

This paper uses Slade's (1976) explanatory model as a framework for explaining hallucinations and considering helping interventions, which may be used alongside pharmacological interventions. Principles and practical ideas for how nurses might assist people to cope with and make sense of the experience are explored.

Lakeman, R. (2000, 3-7 September). Coping with voices: An explanatory pilot study. Paper presented at the Mental Health Nurses for a Changing World: Not just Surviving,, Broadbeach, Queensland.

Hearing voices is an experience common to many people in psychiatric care but meaningful help in coping with the experience is less common. This paper presents a model of coping behaviour specific to hearing voices. It proposes that coping with voices includes hallucinatory control, emotion and problem focused coping and is a function of context, the features of voices, and beliefs about voices. Results from a pilot study exploring coping with voices are presented. A questionnaire which combined previously tested scales including voice topography (Hustig & Häfner, 1990), beliefs about voices (Chadwick & Birchwood, 1995a) and general coping behaviour (Carver, Weintraub & Sheier, 1989) was administered to 10 consumers of a mental health service with a recent history of hearing voices. The instruments were found to be reliable and easy to complete. Results are discussed in relation to the theoretical framework and suggest that people engage in a wide range of purposeful coping behaviour in response to voices that do not fit comfortably into arbitrary coping categories. Consideration of 'coping with' rather than 'amelioration' of voices ought to be a key focus of nursing, and the model of coping presented may be useful in making sense of, and facilitating coping behaviour.

Lakeman, R. (1999, 2 - 3rd February). When the voices say more than 'thud'. Paper presented at the New and Evolving Roles for Psychiatric / Mental Health Nurses, Eastern Institute of Technology, Taradale, New Zealand.

A review of helping interventions for nursing the person who hears voices.

Lakeman, R. (1998, 27 - 29 November). Bridging social and clinical conceptions of hearing voices. Paper presented at the Centres and Margins, Eastern Institute of Technology, Taradale, New Zealand.

One cannot begin to make sense of coping experience without an understanding of the person's social world and how this informs and interacts with perceptions, and the attribution of personal meaning to the experience. The 1990s have been called the 'decade of the brain’. Today a person’s experience can be manipulated in a myriad of ways through the use of pharmacological agents. Because it is possible to completely ameliorate voices does not mean that we should. More than ever we need to extend our understanding of the voice hearing experience and bridge social and clinical conceptions.