In Summary

Psychologists at Swinburne University of Technology are conducting research that will help them to better understand auditory verbal hallucinations in those with bipolar disorder and major depression.

While significant research has been conducted into auditory verbal hallucinations, also known as ‘hearing voices’, the research has almost always focussed on patients with schizophrenia.

Run in conjunction with the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre, Swinburne’s Professor Susan Rossell said that previous studies had eliminated a large group of people, who experience hearing voices.

“The hearing of voices is a common symptom of bipolar disorder and major depression, but there is very little research out there to help us understand why these people hear these voices,” Professor Rossell said.

“Through this new research we hope to understand more about these voices, which will influence how we can better treat what can be extremely distressing experiences for the voice hearers.”

The research will look at different aspects of the hearing voices, including:

  • Physical characteristics- frequency, loudness and clarity
  • Personification- gender and age
  • Form- conversation or criticising
  • Format- second or third person
  • Emotional impact and life impact

This is the largest research project of its kind and it will see up to 200 Australians who experience hearing voices will be interviewed for the research study.

The preliminary findings from this research will be presented at the 2015 Hallucination Consortium Wednesday 21 October.

If you have bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder and one of your symptoms is hearing voices, email the research team or contact them on 03 9076 5172.