Using Phenomenology To Understand Hallucinatory Experiences


  • Elizabeth S. Pienkos



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. 

Author Biography

Elizabeth S. Pienkos

Ean Fishman, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief, Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy Professor of Clinical and Organizational Psychology Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Rutgers University Mailing address: 57 Jaffray Court Irvington, NY 10533 914-693-8549 fax: 603-917-2567 email:




How to Cite

Pienkos, E. S. (2014). Using Phenomenology To Understand Hallucinatory Experiences. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 10(4), 260–270.