Hearing Voices research

The Yale COPE Study

MHA and Yale are collaborating on a study to help people who hear voices learn how to control those voices and get better.

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Hearing Voices is Common

People everywhere have experiences like hearing voices and seeing things other people don’t. Sometimes, these are part of mental illness. Often, however, they occur in healthy individuals. There are usually a few differences between the experiences of people who seek psychiatric care and people who don’t. One difference is the ability to influence their perceptual experiences. For example, many people say they can schedule times for when their voices (whether they consider them Guides, spirits, voices, aspects, etc.) can talk to them. 

Controlling Voice Hearing

The ability to influence our perceptual experiences is complex. It involves neurological, psychological, and social factors. Today, there is no way to measure the ability to influence experiences.

We have made the first tool to study these experiences. It will help us design new treatments to help people gain influence over their voice-hearing and other perceptual experiences. But we need your help! 

Participants can be people with experiences of seeing, hearing, or feeling things others might not be who have influence or do not have influence over these experiences.

Behind the COPE Project is a team of individuals from all different communities—neuroscientists, therapists, mental health professionals, mental health advocates, individuals with lived experiences, and individuals who view their experiences as spiritually oriented. Our group is called the SPIRIT Alliance (SPIRIT meaning the multitude of characteristics that make up an individual).

Share your experiences with us! Understanding how you influence your perceptual experiences can help those who can’t do it themselves. This can inform new treatments for people who struggle with distressing experiences.

Our goals are:

  • To learn from those who hear, see, and feel things others can’t
  • To understand the ways people can influence these experiences and their lives
  • To create new treatments for those who need them.


  • Is online, from the comfort of your own home.
  • Is compensated.
  • Involves taking surveys, playing games, and sharing your story.

?If you, or someone you know, has perceptual experiences like hearing voices when no one is speaking, we invite you to join the Alliance. You do not need to have influence over the voices or perceptual experiences to join!

For more information, please visit our website at spirit.research.yale.edu  

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