Early attachment experience and interpersonal relationships between the voices that people hear and the voice-hearer
Psychological research in the last three decades has led to considerable developments in the theoretical understanding of auditory hallucinations. Research into the experience of voice-hearers has attempted to identify the 'meaning' attached to voices and increased focus has been placed on the voice as an 'interpersonal other.' However, only limited research has focused on the relationship that exists between the voice and the voice-hearer. No studies were found regarding the influence past interpersonal experiences may have had upon this relationship. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the relationship that exists between voice-hearers and their voices are influenced by early interpersonal experience. Specifically, it aimed to explore perceived parenting style during the first sixteen years of the individual's life and associations with the current relationship with the predominant voice. Twenty-seven voice hearers were recruited to participate in the study. Individuals completed measures of 'relating' to the voice and 'being related to' by the voice as well as retrospective measures of perceived parenting. Findings suggest a tentative link between the perceived relating of parents and 'eing related to' by the predominant voice. No associations were found between `relating' to the voice and perceived parenting. Consistent with previous research most individuals related to the voice from a position of distance. Results are discussed within attachment and interpersonal frameworks and findings are discussed in view of design limitations. Clinical implications are proposed with particular reference to assessment and intervention. Recommendations for future research are considered in light of the findings.