Close your eyes and have a thought. Profound or mundane, hold the thought; savour it. Replay it in your mind. Now ask yourself a question: what was it like to think that thought? What we usually call ‘thinking’ is often a kind of speaking by, and a listening to, the multiple voices of our consciousness.
The Voices Within eavesdrops on the voices in our heads: the kindly ones, the guiding ones, the voices of conscience and memory, and the sometimes terrible, sometimes beneficent voices of those who hear others speaking when there is no one around. It illuminates the new sciences of language and thought with engaging case studies and historical and artistic examples, and makes the reader think differently about how words and thoughts weave together in our consciousness.
Authoritative and engaging, drawing on some of the most up-to-date research and thinking, in The Voices Within psychologist Charles Fernyhough interviews young children and the elderly, novelists, practitioners of meditation, visual artists and, in particular, people who hear voices and reveals how it seems that the ‘inner voice’ of introspection is real, and that it plays a vital part in our thinking. Psychologists are demonstrating that inner speech could have an importance far beyond our previous thinking, helping us to regulate our own behaviour, motivate ourselves for action and even become conscious of our own selves.