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Person-ness of voices in lived experience accounts of psychosis: combining literary linguistics and clinical psychology


In this paper, we use concepts and insights from the literary linguistic study of story-world characters to shed new light on the nature of voices as social agents in the context of lived experience accounts of voice-hearing. We demonstrate a considerable overlap between approaches to voices as social agents in clinical psychology and the perception of characters in the linguistic study of fiction, but argue that the literary linguistic approach facilitates a much more nuanced account of the different degrees of person-ness voices might be perceived to possess. We propose a scalar Characterisation Model of Voices and demonstrate its explanatory potential by comparing two lived experience descriptions of voices in interviews with voice-hearers in a psychosis intervention. The new insights into the phenomenology of voice-hearing achieved by applying the model are relevant to the understanding of voice-hearing as well as to therapeutic interventions.

  • linguistics
  • medical humanities
  • mental health care
  • literature

Data availability statement

We cannot make the data fully open as the level and amount of detail in the full interview transcripts make full anonymisation hard to ensure.

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