Around one in 20 adults will hear a voice at some point in their life. For some, the voices are friendly, helpful or inspiring - they can be enriching experiences. But others hear voices that threaten or criticise them. These can be frightening, and incredibly disruptive to daily life.
While progress has been made in recent years to tackle stigma for common mental health problems, many people who hear nasty voices still suffer alone. In fact, voice hearers are six times more likely to feel lonely than those who don’t hear voices.
To learn why people hearing nasty voices can become lonely and isolated, we asked 15 volunteers what it was like for them to be around other people. We conducted in-depth interviews, which were analysed to look for themes. We asked participants questions about whether they hear voices when talking to other people, and what that experience is like for them.
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