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Building on the latest theories, including the new 'dialogic thinking' model, and employing state-of-the-art neuroimaging and other ground-breaking research techniques, Fernyhough has written an authoritative and engaging guide to the voices in our heads. Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we think and feel about health.

Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life and art. Wellcome Collection exhibitions, events and books explore a diverse range of subjects, including consciousness, forensic medicine, emotions, sexology, identity and death. Wellcome Collection is part of Wellcome, a global charitable foundation that exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive, funding over 14, researchers and projects in more than 70 countries.

Fascinating and elegantly humane It turns out we're not mad, or even odd, but simply lucky enough to have a second - or thirdm or fourth - opinion always on call to help. An elegantly written survey of contemporary scientific research into the inner dialogues we all conduct every day An ear-opening book - and an important corrective to myths about schizophrenia, the brain and even our self of sense.

Profound and eloquent We talk to ourselves because we talked to others first. A lucid, authoritative survey of our current knowledge The author's investigations, at once scientific and humane, represent the discipline of psychology at its rare best.

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An intriguing and deeply humane book In The Voices Within , [Fernyhough] has again rendered complicated mental experience without losing its human texture. Profound and eloquent he is a novelist too , Fernyhough presents an intriguing array of fresh findings and perspectives. Web development by Firsty Group. This website requires cookies to provide all of its features. For more information on what data is contained in the cookies, please see our Cookie Notice.

To accept cookies from this site, please click the Allow Cookies button below. Profile Books. My Account. Search: Search. My interest in this book varied as some chapters felt like they were genuinely providing insight and knowledge, while others were infodumps of research which A fascinating subject - the inner voices that nearly all of us 'hear' in one form or another - is given serious and capable exploration by the author.

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My interest in this book varied as some chapters felt like they were genuinely providing insight and knowledge, while others were infodumps of research which did little to engage me or advance my understanding. Worth reading, but be prepared to skim certain sections in order to find the best parts. Dec 26, Saloni rated it liked it.

Next time you talk to yourself, it won't be a just crazy habit but a series of your mental processes - I think that awareness is the biggest takeaway for me. The book though interesting in the beginning, slowly begins to lose its charm half way.


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The experiments begin to seem repetitive and the chapters seem to have more or less the same conclusions. Though the language is simple, and the context very interesting, book may become a bit of drag later. But I think my impatience might be blamed a bi Next time you talk to yourself, it won't be a just crazy habit but a series of your mental processes - I think that awareness is the biggest takeaway for me.

But I think my impatience might be blamed a bit too here Feb 08, Al Maki rated it liked it Shelves: science , mind. There's good evidence that most but surprisingly, to me, not all of us hear voices that have no external auditory stimulus. In most cases we attribute them to ourselves thinking.

Charles Fernyhough, an English psychologist and novelist, has written this account of what is conjectured and known about the "voices in our heads". I originally it picked up because I thought it might say something about the process of thought and in fact it does. For example, using MRIs psychologists are beginning t There's good evidence that most but surprisingly, to me, not all of us hear voices that have no external auditory stimulus.

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For example, using MRIs psychologists are beginning to map the structures within the brain that are active while we engage in reflective thought. The book also deals with issues I had not considered, such as the issue of the source of the source of the voices. For example, sometimes I will attribute the ideas being expressed by my voice within my head to my conscious thought, me speaking with my voice, but there is also the case where I hear my voice express an opinion that I was not aware I held: me hearing my voice used by my "unconscious". How are these two processes different within the physical brain?

His own main area of study appears to be the case where we hear the voices of others: an admonishing parent for example. By what processes might we form an idea, couch it into another's voice and experience it as if it were coming from that other person? Although much more seems to be known than I knew; what goes on in our brains and its relation to our minds is grounds for speculation and bafflement.

As I expect it will remain for some centuries to come. I've been tempted to quote the last page in its entirety because it expresses excellently the puzzle of what is thought and, to use a Buddhist phrasing, the question of "Who is my self? If you're interested in your own thinking, I suggest you read it. Dec 04, Tyler rated it it was amazing. Like most people, I have often struggled to find peace with my my own thoughts and emotions I found Fernyhough's use of philosophical texts along with psychiatric studies to be the most satisfying analysis of this subject I have seen.

Understanding the voices we hear in our minds is such a challenging endeavor because it requires both neurological as well as social explanations and in combining the two areas of inquiry one runs the risk of overgeneralizing to the point of meaninglessness.

Hearing voices with Charles Fernyhough and Francesca Kay – books podcast

Ferny Like most people, I have often struggled to find peace with my my own thoughts and emotions I found Fernyhough's use of philosophical texts along with psychiatric studies to be the most satisfying analysis of this subject I have seen. Fernyhough used of his own experience in the field of psychiatry as well as references to the latest research to enlighten the reader on this topic in a readable and memorable book.

Jun 22, Chris May rated it it was amazing Shelves: read Sometimes you read a book that changes how you view or understand the world. This is one of those books. I actually picked this up assuming it was mostly focused on schizophrenia and the associated voice hearing, and while it does touch on that topic in some depth, The Voices Within is actually about how we all 'hear' voices - our internal dialogue. Charles Fernyhough details the development of how we understand language - internal and external - and how this effects how we understand the world a Sometimes you read a book that changes how you view or understand the world.

Charles Fernyhough details the development of how we understand language - internal and external - and how this effects how we understand the world around us and interact with it. View 1 comment. Aug 03, Jane Walker rated it really liked it Shelves: other-non-fic.

It's impossible to read this book about our inner voices without thinking about one's own inner voices all the time. I was interested to learn that I'm unusual in having my brain filled with words all the time. There are things I would like to discuss with Fernyhough, and I suspect that's the case for most readers. I was pleased to win this on Goodreads because, due to poor hearing, I have tinnitus; I am fortunate because I "hear" beautiful music. The book was not a particularly easy read for me but I found it very informative and well written.

Like most people, I also have my own discussions with my internal voice. Nice to know that, in least that respect, I'm normal. Jan 30, Alison rated it liked it. I don't have enough interest in the details of the experimental science or advances in the neuroscience to sustain enjoyment in the denser chapters but still found most of the book engaging and educational.

View all 3 comments. Jun 14, Anne Goodwin rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. Any academic elucidating the extraordinariness of ordinary minds, and building bridges between them and psychotic experiences, is to be applauded. Jul 18, Stephen Palmer rated it really liked it Shelves: science. Written by an author with a lot of experience of psychology and related disciplines, this fascinating book covers pretty much everything currently known about voices in our inner mental worlds — which, it turns out, is not very much.

The final section of the book in fact is a survey of the considerable amount of work that still needs doing. Two main theories characterise the book. The first theory is that inner voice is something children acquire as they internalise their normal speaking voice. T Written by an author with a lot of experience of psychology and related disciplines, this fascinating book covers pretty much everything currently known about voices in our inner mental worlds — which, it turns out, is not very much. This, the author suggests, leads to our inner monologue… or, more accurately, our inner dialogues.

But as Fernyhough begins to unpick what we think we know about our inner voices he shifts towards a second theory, which is that the phenomenon is far more complex than we realise, involving more than just words and sound. By the end of the book he leans towards the notion that our inner voices and there are always more than one are one aspect of more which is internalised: other types of sensory and cognitive perception for instance.

Inner voices come with much more baggage than just words. You would think that a book with this title would focus on schizophrenia and other illnesses, but actually such conditions are a relatively small part of the deal here. But so little is known and agreed about how our inner dialogue works there is clearly much more to come.

Fernyhough also touches on how creative people hear, perceive and use inner voices in their work — particularly authors. These sections are short, but fascinating. A couple of niggles. Even one mention in one sentence of the fact that all human beings have a model of the world inside their head would have greatly helped. It would have helped to put the whole argument of the book into a better perspective. I also think a few mentions of the considerable difference in how introverts and extroverts perceive their inner worlds would have helped. But these are small points, and likely will be addressed as psychologists begin to work with what this excellent author has put forward.

Jul 21, FrDrStel rated it liked it. Charles Fernyhough, a British psychologist stationed at Durham University where I finished my MLitt and PhD degrees , has written a well-researched study on the relationship between the inner speech activity in which all human beings engage and the voices within our minds that seem to plague people with or without psychological anomalies. He writes: "Our inner voices can be self-assured, funny, profound, hesitant, or mean; We all hear them - and we needn't fear them.

Indeed, we cannot l Dr. Indeed, we cannot live without them, whether to make decisions or to bring a book's characters to life as we read.

My takeaway from the study is that every thought process is profoundly complex but it simultaneously defines who we are as human beings. This is a noble thesis. A personal disappointment with the book is a lack or at best, a very minimal treatment of considering the inner voices within our minds as possible ontological entities outside of the immediate thinker. In other words, can these words truly belong to God or a saint or a demon? The last few pages of the book just barely grazes the subject and while admitting that he himself is not religious, it seems Fernyhough disengages himself from this topic and dismisses it simply as personal experience conditioned by faith commitment.

He also briefly mentions apophatic prayer but remains disinterested in it. It would have behooved his work tremendously, in my opinion, to perhaps have explored Eastern patristic spirituality and seen the "supernatural" dimension of internal noetic communication within the heart. This is an entire universe that requires fair treatment. But as a scientist, he chooses to stay in his safety corner. Happy is the day that studies can be longer and more multi-disciplinary, to explore the truly psychosomatic and spiritual nature of man.

Sep 08, MaryJo rated it really liked it. I read a review of this book in the New Yorker soon after I had read Lydia Millet's novel sweet lamb of heaven in which a young mother who hears external voices goes on the run to escape an abusive husband and gets taken in by someone who runs a group for miscellaneous people whose only commonality is that they hear voices. I thought the novelist was making this up; however, it turned out that she wasn't. Apparently there is quite a bit of variation in what kind of talk people have in their head I read a review of this book in the New Yorker soon after I had read Lydia Millet's novel sweet lamb of heaven in which a young mother who hears external voices goes on the run to escape an abusive husband and gets taken in by someone who runs a group for miscellaneous people whose only commonality is that they hear voices.

Apparently there is quite a bit of variation in what kind of talk people have in their heads.


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Fernyhough is trained as a psychologist, this book is steeped in the vocabulary and methodological of that profession. He quite interested in the dialogic aspects of this kind of thinking, and how it contributes to cognitive development, going back to Vygotsky. Fernyhough is interested in when people attribute their inner voices to an outside source, but he doesn't think it is necessarily a sign that the person is mentally ill. There are now international organizations for "voice hearers" who are not mentally ill and want to remove the stigma. Fernyhough is also interested in how the kinds of inner conversations deaf people have.

The book was kind of a catalog of the evidence we have of different kinds of inner voices, who has investigated them, and to what purpose. He has a historical chapter treating the Christian mystics, which I thought was quite nuanced. Fernyhough istrying to sort our various kinds experiences of hearing voices and it moves across several literatures--cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, psychiatry, religion.

I thought it worth the read. Nov 18, Isla Scott rated it really liked it Shelves: science-medical-misc , psychology-misc , non-fiction. This became quite a fascinating read, after it started a little dry and a bit repetitive. Certainly by, or before, half way through the book I was quite hooked. I found myself particularly interested in the way that authors interact with their characters via internal ised dialogue.

There is also mention of a large number of different types of internal vocalisations, including what I regard as earworms i. It is perhaps a little academic when it comes to the precise terminology but regardless, I managed to follow most of it. The book was a bit dry and somewhat repetitive early on in the text but as I read on it became more interesting and certainly half way through I was hooked. To me its a fascinating subject area and I found it quite informative. At the end of the book, after the acknowledgements, are quite a lot of notes relating to information contained in each chapter and an index, which is also a plus side.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject area. Dec 01, Nikki rated it really liked it Shelves: science-fact , non-fiction. Reviewed for The Bibliophibian. Ever heard voices? A surprising number of people have, and this book delves into the way we think and how that influences the phenomenon of hearing voices. A lot of it is about the way the average person thinks. What percentage of the time do you actually think in words? How long does it take you to complete a thought? The book goes into all those ideas and discusses some interesting experiments that do their best to capture the objective facts from experiences which are subjective by their very definition.

I polished it off in no time. Second DNF of the year, oops. I stopped halfway. I found it too full of "maybe this, maybe that", too much seeing what he wanted to see in various cases. The part about Van Gogh?

The Voices Within

This part in particular I found ridiculous and reaaaaallly stretching for a link: "There's another sense in which van Gogh's letters illustrate Vygotskian views about the ise of language in self-regulation. Vygotsky argued that [ But then the author goes off into unprovable theories, citing one study after another that were either inconclusive or had methodological problems according to the author, not me!

In any case, this is an interesting topic, but the author was wholly unconvincing. Dec 16, Shawn rated it it was amazing. I still feel like interior voives are just ways that the unconcious communicates to the concious mind about over-all surrounding happenings that the concious mind is too focused on individual things to pick up. Sep 15, Renee rated it it was amazing. I could not put this book down. It is a fascinating look at our inner voice. It is an amazing journey of the human experience and the extra-human experience. Not everyone actually hears a voice when they talk about "My inner voice" but some do.

This book delves into that murky territory and discovers a world in which people who have felt isolated and separate, because of the voice s find fellowship and support. Whether you are one of the ones who actually hears or just thinks quietly, this is I could not put this book down. Whether you are one of the ones who actually hears or just thinks quietly, this is a must read. This is about going beyond the labels and understanding the science of the mind in our quest to understand our collective selves.