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Command Hallucinations: Cognitive Theory, Therapy, and Research

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Command hallucinations (CH) are a distressing and high-risk group of symptoms that have long been recognized but little understood, with few effective treatments. Research shows that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a promising treatment for hallucinations in general and therefore has a potential role in the treatment of CH. We propose that the development of an effective CBT for CH would be enhanced by a theory specific to this uniquely problematic symptom. In this article we describe and apply such a theory from evolutionary psychology, namely social rank theory, and review recent evidence for its application to hallucinations in general. Second, we present a treatment protocol developed in accordance with the principles of the theory specifically for CH, and describe an illustrative case. Finally, we outline the design and methodology of a new, randomized, controlled trial currently being undertaken to test the efficacy of the treatment. Further developments both in the protocol and in its evaluation are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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