voices and conversations; ‘real’ and ‘pathological’

After listening to a description of ‘voice hearing’ on Radio 4 last Saturday, I find myself fascinated by the relationship such pathological/pathologised forms of inner speech have to the everyday forms of inner speech which are so central to my own work. The phenomenology described by the radio guest was fascinating: the inner ‘other’ was recognised as, at root, himself yet personalised as ‘the captain’ and invested with agency, such as to render the experience intrusive and overpowering.

So too was the extent to which the identity qua voice hearer was clearly integral to his sustained social identity, as the recognition of the ‘problem’ comes to constitute the solution to underlying existential questions of how to situate oneself in relation to the social world and the other people who populate it.

I’m very aware of my capacity to get intellectually distracted so I’m putting this on hold till after I hand in my thesis. But I find this literature, which I’ve only just discovered, fascinating and I can’t wait to read more. It’s interesting on a variety of levels:

  1. How do the pathological and everyday forms of inner speech relate to each over developmentally?
  2. What social and culture conditions need to be in place for ‘hearing voices’ to be medicalised in the current manner?
  3. What is its history as a diagnostic category? What preceded it?
  4. How else have these experiences been understood and what do these divergent understandings say about the ‘condition’ both as a contingent socio-cultural construction and an underlying human reality which is being constructed in different ways at different times?

2 thoughts on “voices and conversations; ‘real’ and ‘pathological’

  1. Thanks for re-blogging. 🙂 I know you’re busy with other (important!) projects, but sometimes I’d love to hear your reflections on why you find voices (in particular) so appealing (vs ‘madness’ more generally, psychosis, ‘schizophrenia,’ delusions, other forms of ‘disorder,’ etc.). As you probably noticed, I have many reservations about the ultra-recent academic sexiness of voice hearing, and would be curious to hear your take.

  2. How about we have a Skype chat at some point? My e-mail is Mark AT markcarrigan.net if you’d like to arrange one 🙂

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