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Content matters, a qualitative analysis of verbal hallucinations

Nienke Moernaut (UGent) , Stijn Vanheule (UGent) and Jasper Feyaerts (UGent)
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Abstract
Auditory verbal hallucinations have traditionally especially been researched from a formbased approach, with content getting much less attention. In this article, we argue for the importance of looking at content to get a fuller understanding of the hallucinatory experience. Guided by Lacanian psychoanalysis, we conducted a thematic and a narrative analysis on interviews with 10 schizophrenic patients about their hallucinations. We discerned five themes in the data, which were based on Lacanian theory and had to do with existential questions: parenthood and authority, sexuality and relationships, gender identity, life in the light of death, and what does the other want? Furthermore, we added a theme for unclassified content. Narratively, we found that participants constructed a story of four steps about their hallucinatory experiences. These steps were disturbing events in the past posing an existential question, triggering event, period of confusion, and hearing voices that allude to existential themes. Participants succeed in different degrees in integrating their hallucinatory experiences in their own life history. These stories can be situated on a continuum by making use of three prototypical narrating styles: the meta-delusional, delusional, and chaotic narrative type. Overall, our analysis shows that hallucinations can both be thematically and narratively organized, by making use of a theoretical framework like Lacanian psychoanalysis. Our research demonstrates that hallucinatory contents are not random but are about existential issues imbedded in a life narrative. Future research would benefit of integrating content and form-based approaches.
Keywords
auditory verbal hallucinations, AVHs, psychoanalysis, interviews, thematic analysis, narrative analysis, psychosis, schizophrenia

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Moernaut, Nienke, Stijn Vanheule, and Jasper Feyaerts. “Content Matters, a Qualitative Analysis of Verbal Hallucinations.” FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 9 (2018): n. pag. Print.
APA
Moernaut, N., Vanheule, S., & Feyaerts, J. (2018). Content matters, a qualitative analysis of verbal hallucinations. FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, 9.
Chicago author-date
Moernaut, Nienke, Stijn Vanheule, and Jasper Feyaerts. 2018. “Content Matters, a Qualitative Analysis of Verbal Hallucinations.” Frontiers in Psychology 9.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Moernaut, Nienke, Stijn Vanheule, and Jasper Feyaerts. 2018. “Content Matters, a Qualitative Analysis of Verbal Hallucinations.” Frontiers in Psychology 9.
Vancouver
1.
Moernaut N, Vanheule S, Feyaerts J. Content matters, a qualitative analysis of verbal hallucinations. FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY. Frontiers Media SA; 2018;9.
IEEE
[1]
N. Moernaut, S. Vanheule, and J. Feyaerts, “Content matters, a qualitative analysis of verbal hallucinations,” FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 9, 2018.
@article{8578575,
  abstract     = {Auditory verbal hallucinations have traditionally especially been researched from a formbased
approach, with content getting much less attention. In this article, we argue for
the importance of looking at content to get a fuller understanding of the hallucinatory
experience. Guided by Lacanian psychoanalysis, we conducted a thematic and a
narrative analysis on interviews with 10 schizophrenic patients about their hallucinations.
We discerned five themes in the data, which were based on Lacanian theory and had
to do with existential questions: parenthood and authority, sexuality and relationships,
gender identity, life in the light of death, and what does the other want? Furthermore,
we added a theme for unclassified content. Narratively, we found that participants
constructed a story of four steps about their hallucinatory experiences. These steps
were disturbing events in the past posing an existential question, triggering event, period
of confusion, and hearing voices that allude to existential themes. Participants succeed
in different degrees in integrating their hallucinatory experiences in their own life history.
These stories can be situated on a continuum by making use of three prototypical
narrating styles: the meta-delusional, delusional, and chaotic narrative type. Overall, our
analysis shows that hallucinations can both be thematically and narratively organized,
by making use of a theoretical framework like Lacanian psychoanalysis. Our research
demonstrates that hallucinatory contents are not random but are about existential issues
imbedded in a life narrative. Future research would benefit of integrating content and
form-based approaches.},
  articleno    = {1958},
  author       = {Moernaut, Nienke and Vanheule, Stijn and Feyaerts, Jasper},
  issn         = {1664-1078},
  journal      = {FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY},
  keywords     = {auditory verbal hallucinations,AVHs,psychoanalysis,interviews,thematic analysis,narrative analysis,psychosis,schizophrenia},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Frontiers Media SA},
  title        = {Content matters, a qualitative analysis of verbal hallucinations},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01958},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2018},
}

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