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The Lancet Psychiatry to publish York researcher’s article

Posted on 15 April 2024

A York academic has had a third paper published in one of the world’s most high-impact psychiatry journals, the Lancet Psychiatry.

Dr Clara Humpston, of the University’s Department of Psychology, is a researcher in the field of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia which feature auditory-verbal hallucinations as a key diagnostic criteria.

She says she believes a new approach taken by her and her colleagues caught the eye of the Lancet Psychiatry’s editors.

She said: “The current definition of auditory-verbal hallucinations as ‘sensory perceptions without corresponding external stimuli yet having the full force and impact of a veridical perception’ has significantly deviated from the original and historical notions of hallucinations in schizophrenia.

“Historically, they are more belief-like, meaning the patient is convinced that they have heard a voice rather than hearing actual voices. Indeed, many patients even nowadays report a sense of simply being spoken to without sensory or sound features - we call them 'soundless voices'.”

“We argue that it is the lack of 'first-person authority' - the notion that the perceptions one experiences in the here-and-now are imbued with a sense of taken-for-granted-ness, an immediate access from the first-person perspective over which the individual would usually endorse a feeling of direct control,” says Dr Humpston. 

“In other words, it is the ‘how’ and not the ‘what’ about gaining perceptual information that is severely interrupted.”

Despite this being her third appearance in The Lancet Psychiatry, Dr Humpston says it’s still a great privilege to contribute to such a respected journal. And she advises early-career researchers to try to achieve the same thing.

“Of course it is always very exciting to publish in such a high impact journal, I just think I am a bit more used to the process now,” she says. “It’s still extremely heartening that the editorial team was so supportive from the pre-submission author enquiry to acceptance. It was also very encouraging to receive some highly positive reviews.”