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Stigma and need for care in individuals who hear voices

Stigma and need for care in individuals who hear voices

International Journal of Social Psychiatry 63(1): 5-13

Voice hearing experiences, or auditory verbal hallucinations, occur in healthy individuals as well as in individuals who need clinical care, but news media depict voice hearing primarily as a symptom of mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. This article explores whether, and how, public perception of an exaggerated association between voice hearing and mental illness might influence individuals' need for clinical care. A narrative literature review was conducted, using relevant peer-reviewed research published in the English language. Stigma may prevent disclosure of voice hearing experiences. Non-disclosure can prevent access to sources of normalizing information and lead to isolation, loss of social support and distress. Internalization of stigma and concomitantly decreased self-esteem could potentially affect features of voices such as perceived voice power, controllability, negativity and frequency, as well as distress. Increased distress may result in a decrease in functioning and increased need for clinical care. The literature reviewed suggests that stigma has the potential to increase need for care through many interrelated pathways. However, the ability to draw definitive conclusions was constrained by the designs of the studies reviewed. Further research is needed to confirm the findings of this review.

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Accession: 058905384

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27815515

DOI: 10.1177/0020764016675888

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