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The Voices Within

by Charles Fernyhough

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.


25 May, 2016

About Charles Fernyhough

Charles Fernyhough is the author of Pieces of Light (Profile Books) and The Baby in the Mirror (Granta), two novels, The Auctioneer (Fourth Estate) and A Box of Birds (Unbound), and has contributed to the Guardian, TIME Ideas, Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times, Sydney Morning Herald, and Focus Magazine. He has published many scientific articles on the relation between language and thought, and his ideas on thinking as a dialogue with the self have been influential in several fields. He is a part-time Professor in Psychology at Durham University, where he directs Hearing the Voice, a project on inner voices funded by the Wellcome Trust.


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