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The Stream of Hallucinatory Consciousness: When Thoughts Become Like Voices

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Auditory hallucinations are common symptomatic manifestations of psychotic states, particularly within the schizophrenia spectrum. For example, Kraepelin already catalogued an extensive array of related phenomena (e.g. '[an] inward voice in the thoughts', 'voices which do not speak with words', 'whispering voices from the whole of mankind') including auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) as relevant features of Dementia Praecox (i.e. the first nosographic archetype of schizophrenia). Such phenomena entail a rich and complex architecture that -- according to Jaspers -- is irreducibly linked to an impression of immediacy and quasi-perceptual features. However, both operational psychiatric epistemology and contemporary neuroscientific research tend to interpret the Jaspersian description in a literal and rather concrete way, de facto reducing hallucinatory experiences to mere disordered perceptions ('perceptions without an object'). Such percepto-centric conceptualization, besides being theoretically problematic, is also at odds with the experiential features described by schizophrenia spectrum subjects. According to phenomenological psychopathology indeed, AVH are manifestations of a profound, gestaltic transformation of the stream of consciousness that precedes the emergence of florid symptoms.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), Division of Mental Health and Addiction, University of Oslo, and Diakonhjemmet Hospital, PB 85 Vinderen, 0319 Oslo, Norway., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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