The Elizabeth Tower, better known as "Big Ben", is pictured at the Houses of Parliament in London on January 16, 2017. AFP / BEN STANSALL
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In the group overall there were "really large and significant decreases in the amount of distress people felt in relation to their voices, the number of times a day they heard the voices, and the extent to which they felt overpowered by the voice," said lead author Tom Craig of King's College London.In a comparison group of 75 patients who received counseling instead of avatar therapy, two said their hallucinations had stopped, the team found.Most experience the voice as dominant, even omnipotent, and feel inferior and powerless in comparison.For most, drugs reduce the symptoms but about one in four continue hearing voices, said the study.All 150 participants had experienced persistent and distressing hallucinations for between one to 20 years, despite taking antipsychotic medication.As the therapy advances and the patient learns to become more assertive, the avatar starts conceding ground, and eventually acknowledges the person's strong qualities.
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