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Language of Voice Hearing


Research at the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics


Current Project: Power, Control and the Language of Voice-hearing

By Zsofia Demjen, on 7 May 2017

A new pilot project has just started at the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics. Funded by a Seed Image of head with speech bubbles in itGrant from the UCL Institute of Education, Zsofia Demjen, UCL, Elena Semino, Lancaster University, Filipp
o Varese
, University of Manchester, and Agnes Marszalek, UCL,  are exploring linguistic markers of ‘power’, ‘control’, and ‘agency’ in 10 interviews with people who hear voices and who have a clinical diagnosis.

The aims are two-fold: to better understand what it means to ‘feel in control’ of one’s voices and to investigate the extent to which implicit power relationships in the language people use to talk about their voice-hearing experiences can predict their likely level of distress. This is based on evidence in clinical psychology that a sizable minority of people with a diagnosis of psychosis who hear voices cope well with these experiences. A key factor seems to be voice-hearers’ perceptions of the power of their voices to influence their actions and mental states and, in turn, their own sense of power and control over the voices.

The team will meet with a group of advisors in early September to discuss ways in which ideas can be taken forward in a larger project.

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