The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves

The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves

by Charles Fernyhough


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The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves by Charles Fernyhough

A luminous exploration of the nature of thoughts, from daydreams to the voices in our heads

At the moment you caught sight of this book, what were you thinking? Was your thought a stream of sensations? Or was it a voice in your head? Did you ask yourself, "I wonder what that's about?" Did you answer? And what does it mean if you did?

When someone says they hear voices in their head, they are often thought to be mentally ill. But, as Charles Fernyhough argues in The Voices Within, such voices are better understood as one of the chief hallmarks of human thought. Our inner voices can be self-assured, funny, profound, hesitant, or mean; they can appear in different accents and even in sign language. We all hear them-and we needn't fear them. Indeed, we cannot live without them: we need them, whether to make decisions or to bring a book's characters to life as we read. Studying them can enrich our understanding of ourselves, and our understanding of the world around us; it can help us understand the experiences of visionary saints, who might otherwise be dismissed as schizophrenics; to alleviate the suffering of those who do have mental health problems; and to understand why the person next to us on the subway just burst out laughing for no apparent reason.

Whether the voices in our heads are meandering lazily or clashing chaotically, they deserve to be heard. Bustling with insights from literature, film, art, and psychology, The Voices Within offers more than science; it powerfully entreats us all to take some time to hear ourselves think.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465096800
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 807,416
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Charles Fernyhough is a writer and psychologist. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Pieces of Light, shortlisted for many prizes, and A Thousand Days of Wonder. He directs Hearing the Voice, a project on inner voices based at Durham University. He lives in County Durham, United Kingdom.

Table of Contents

1 Funny Slices of Cheese 1

2 Turning Up the Gas 15

3 Inside the Chatterbox 29

4 Two Cars 43

5 A Natural History of Thinking 57

6 Voices on the Page 75

7 Chorus of Me 91

8 Not I 111

9 Different Voices 119

10 The Voice of a Dove 135

11 A Brain Listening to Itself 151

12 A Talkative Muse 167

13 Messages from the Past 189

14 A Voice That Doesn't Speak 209

15 Talking to Ourselves 225

Acknowledgments 249

Notes 251

Index 293

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