Using Phenomenology To Understand Hallucinatory Experiences
Keywords:hallucinations, pseudohallucinations, phenomenology, psychosis, case study, clinical case study
This commentary responds to Shapiro, Bussing, and Nguyen’s (2014) case study of "Kate," a 16-year-old adolescent female who required psychiatric hospitalization for auditory hallucinations with secondary delusional thinking. I continue their discussion about the conceptualization of hallucinatory experiences in the context of an individual case, and the significance of this conceptualization for diagnosis and treatment. In particular, this commentary summarizes contemporary research on the diverse manifestations of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) and the difficulties with developing a meaningful classification system for these phenomena. It then investigates one approach to understanding AVHs, philosophical phenomenology, and argues for the relevance of this approach in clarifying the formal features of a symptom and relating these in a meaningful way to the overall structure of the underlying pathology. Finally, this commentary applies a phenomenological perspective to Kate’s particular symptomatology, and discusses the implications of its findings for treatment approaches with Kate and others who experience various forms of AVHs.
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