The following article discusses the phenomenon of auditory hallucinations in those who do not suffer from schizophrenia. Research has shown the occurrence of auditory hallucinations in the general population to such an extent that they cannot be said to be pathognomonic of psychiatric illness. In addition, it has long been known that certain hallucinatory experiences occur in health, such as hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. However, there are fundamental differences in the characteristics of these experiences. In the psychiatric population, these tend to be frequent, intrusive, and distressing. In contrast, in the nonclinical population, these are often predominantly positive and nonthreatening. The exact mechanism for the occurrence of auditory hallucinations is not yet known, but it is hoped that through the study of those in health, the mechanisms that underpin pathophysiologic processes in clinical conditions also can be elucidated.
"Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are sensory experiences that take place in the absence of any external stimulation while in a fully conscious state (Beck & Rector, 2003). The phenomenon has mainly been associated with psychosis (Pierre, 2010), and schizophrenia (Larøi, 2012), but can also occur in other conditions such as affective disorder, personality disorder (Choong, Hunter & Woodruff, 2007), neurological disorders (Larøi, Sommer, Blom et al., 2012) and in healthy individuals (Beavan, Read & Cartwright, 2011). The factors and phenomenological experiences associated with AVH have, however, most frequently been investigated in patients with schizophrenia. "
"By contrast, hallucinations experienced in the general population are likely to be brief, not unpleasant and not experienced frequently.14 Depending on the way the question is asked, 10%–15% or more of the population report them.15 "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A number of studies have explored hallucinations as complex experiences involving interactions between psychological, biological, and environmental factors and mechanisms. Nevertheless, relatively little attention has focused on the role of culture in shaping hallucinations. This article reviews the published research, drawing on the expertise of both anthropologists and psychologists. We argue that the extant body of work suggests that culture does indeed have a significant impact on the experience, understanding, and labeling of hallucinations and that there may be important theoretical and clinical consequences of that observation. We find that culture can affect what is identified as a hallucination, that there are different patterns of hallucination among the clinical and nonclinical populations, that hallucinations are often culturally meaningful, that hallucinations occur at different rates in different settings; that culture affects the meaning and characteristics of hallucinations associated with psychosis, and that the cultural variations of psychotic hallucinations may have implications for the clinical outcome of those who struggle with psychosis. We conclude that a clinician should never assume that the mere report of what seems to be a hallucination is necessarily a symptom of pathology and that the patient's cultural background needs to be taken into account when assessing and treating hallucinations.
"In healthy subjects, the presence of AVHs is frequently associated with subclinical levels of other schizotypal phenomena, plus an increased family loading for psychosis and axis I disorders and a higher prevalence of childhood trauma, but these subjects do not meet the criteria for schizotypal, schizoid, or paranoid disorders . Furthermore, a crucial difference between the emotional content of AVHs in healthy individuals and patients with schizophrenia has been observed [28, 29]: while in schizophrenia AVHs are characterized by a negative emotional content leading to perceived distress and to a lower global functioning, voices of the healthy subjects mainly have a positive emotional content and are often not disturbing. This difference in the emotional content could distinguish between benign hallucinations and psychopathology. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) are known as a core symptom of schizophrenia, but also occur in a number of other conditions, not least in neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia. In the last decades, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) emerged as a valuable therapeutic approach towards several neurological and psychiatric diseases, including AVHs. Herein we report a case of a seventy-six-years-old woman with vascular-degenerative brain disease, complaining of threatening AVHs. The patient was treated with a high-frequency temporoparietal (T3P3) rTMS protocol for fifteen days. A considerable reduction of AVHs in frequency and content (no more threatening) was observed. Although further research is needed, this seems an encouraging result.
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