Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: In dimensional understanding of psychosis, auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are unitary phenomena present on a continuum from non-clinical voice hearing to severe mental illness. There is mixed evidence for this approach and a relative absence of research into subjective experience of AVH in early psychosis. AIMS: To conduct primary research into the nature of subjective experience of AVH in first-episode psychosis. METHOD: A phenomenological study using diary and photo-elicitation qualitative techniques investigating the subjective experience of AVH in 25 young people with first-episode psychosis. RESULTS: AVH are characterised by: (a) entity, as though from a living being with complex social interchange; and (b) control, exerting authority with ability to influence. AVH are also received with passivity, often accompanied by sensation in other modalities. CONCLUSIONS: A modern detailed phenomenological investigation, without presupposition, gives results that echo known descriptive psychopathology. However, novel findings also emerge that may be features of AVH in psychosis not currently captured with standardised measures. DECLARATION OF INTEREST: None. COPYRIGHT AND USAGE: © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2016. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Non-Commercial, No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) licence.

Original publication




Journal article


BJPsych Open

Publication Date





88 - 95