A substantial proportion of the population is prey to auditory hallucinations. Among those concerned, there are many who hear voices. At the University of Liège, Professor Frank Larøi has studied this problem in depth. Member of the International Consortium on Hallucinations Research and Related Symptoms created in 2011, he has contributed to four review papers in the past few months(1)(2)(3)(4) concerning hallucinations. At the same time, he is closely monitoring the evolution of a support group for voice hearers, founded jointly by ULg and the not-for-profit association Psy'Cause.
A ghost or an FBI agent?
Whether or not they have a psychiatric past, voice hearers are characterised by the high frequency of their hallucinations. This differentiates them from people who have had random hallucinatory experiences. But as the work of the psychiatrist Iris Sommer from the University of Utrecht tends to show, the hallucinations of non-clinical subjects are different from those of psychotic patients in terms of their content. It is generally benevolent or neutral, and the nature of the alleged voices is more spiritual rather than concrete (the ghost of a grandmother, for instance, rather than a neighbour, an FBI agent or the devil).
(1) Flavie Waters, Daniel Collerton, Dominique H. ffytche, Renaud Jardri, Delphine Pins, Robert Dudley, Jan Dirk Blom, Urs Peter Mosimann, Frank Eperjesi, Stephen Ford and Frank Larøi, Visual hallucinations in the psychosis spectrum and comparative information from neurodegenerative disorders and eye disease, Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40 suppl. no 4, S233-245, 2014.