Language and auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia
Historically, and more recently, language has been considered as a key feature in the description of schizophrenia. However, there is widespread dissatisfaction with currently available descriptions. In this study, a linguistic model is used to develop objective and comprehensive measures of the language of twelve individuals with schizophrenia as compared with twelve individuals without mental illness. The measures are shown to have high intra- and inter-rater reliability. Moreover, they are suitable for clinical practice due to the limited training required for their use, and the ease of administration of these measures. In the literature on schizophrenia, it is proposed that language and auditory hallucinations may be related. Within the study, rhis relationship is investigated, with a finding of a number of correlations between measures of language as developed earlier in the study and aspects of study participants' hallucinatory experiences. Possible cognitive explanations for the findings are discussed. Due to the significance of the linguistic difficulties and hallucinations for persons with schizophrenia, the linguistic measures developed earlier in the study are used as a basis for a therapy programme. Therapy is described for two of the study participants. The participants are shown to benefit from therapy as demonstrated in their improvement on the linguistic measures at the end of the therapy programme and in the comments by participants themselves as well as staff working with them. Participants retained some of the benefits at reassessment six weeks post therapy. It is proposed that the measures developed in the study provide the basis for the description of spontaneous discourse samples of persons with schizophrenia and possibly related disorders. It is also suggested that these measures are potentially useful as a basis for hypothesis-driven therapy for the linguistic difficulties described in persons with schizophrenia.