On shame and voice-hearing
Hearing voices in the absence of another speaker—what psychiatry terms an auditory verbal hallucination—is often associated with a wide range of negative emotions. Mainstream clinical research addressing the emotional dimensions of voice-hearing has tended to treat these as self-evident, undifferentiated and so effectively interchangeable. But what happens when a richer, more nuanced understanding of specific emotions is brought to bear on the analysis of distressing voices? This article draws findings from the ‘What is it like to hear voices’ study conducted as part of the interdisciplinary Hearing the Voice project into conversation with philosopher Dan Zahavi's Self and Other: Exploring Subjectivity, Empathy and Shame to consider how a focus on shame can open up new questions about the experience of hearing voices. A higher-order emotion of social cognition, shame directs our attention to aspects of voice-hearing which are understudied and elusive, particularly as they concern the status of voices as other and the constitution and conceptualisation of the self.