Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity
Studies of Verbal Hallucinations
Routledge – 2000 – 240 pages
Records of people experiencing verbal hallucinations or 'hearing voices' can be found throughout history. Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity examines almost 2,800 years of these reports including Socrates, Schreber and Pierre Janet's "Marcelle", to provide a clear understanding of the experience and how it may have changed over the millenia. Through six cases of historical and contemporary voice hearers, Leudar and Thomas demonstrate how the experience has metamorphosed from being a sign of virtue to a sign of insanity, signalling such illnesses as schizophrenia or dissociation.
They argue that the experience is interpreted by the voice hearer according to social categories conveyed through language, and is therefore best studied as a matter of language use. Controversially, they conclude that 'hearing voices' is an ordinary human experience which is unfortunately either mystified or pathologised.
Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity offers a fresh perspective on this enigmatic experience and will be of interest to students, researchers and clinicians alike.
'I wish I could find a way of making psychiatrists and clinical psychologists read (this book). They will find it both challenging and liberating.' - Richard Bentall, University of Manchester
'This remarkable book explores the experience of voices 'psychologically', rather than as a mere 'symptom' to be suppressed, by medication or other means.' - Alan Costall, University of Portsmouth
'I was impressed by the comprehensiveness of the book, its historical perspective and the use of case studies. It shows nicely how professionals are bound by their beliefs.' - Marius Romme, University of Maastricht
'This is a very interesting book … [it] highlights the intellectual fascination presented by verbal hallucinations and places this phenomenon in a novel, and most welcome perspective.' - Benny Shanon, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
'A challenging and thought-provoking book which I would highly recommend to students and health professionals alike.' - Robert Coen, St James's Hospital, The Irish Psychologist
Part 1: The Daemon of Socrates. On the History of the Concept of Hallucination. The Sign of Socrates. What the Daemon of Socrates Could Do With Words. Part 2: The Gods of Achilles. Julian Jaynes on Gods and Voices. Social Action in the Iliad. The Gods and Heroes in the Iliad. The Voices of Achilles. Part 3: The Souls of Daniel Paul Schreber. Pragmatics of Schreber's Supernatural World. Mixing Metaphors in the Court. Part 4: Pierre Janet on Verbal Hallucinations: The Case of Marcelle. Part 5: Pragmatists on Self. William James on Consciousness Of Self. Mead on Socially Reflexive Self. Are Voices Mutations Of Self? Part 6: Verbal Hallucinations in Contemporary Psychiatry. Hearing Voices and Psychopathology. Voices and Therapists. Part 7: Working with Voices. The Participants. Dialogical Properties. Dialogical Properties of Peg's Voices. Follow-up. Part 8: The Frenzy of Anthony Smith: Hearing Voices in English National Newspapers. Voices in English National Newspapers. The Frenzy of Anthony Smith. Voices in the House of Commons. Part 9: Voice-talk. On What Voices Do With Words. On Mundane Reality Testing 200. Part 10: Conclusion. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
Ivan Leuder is Reader in Psychology at the University of Manchester. Philip Thomas is a Consultant Psychiatrist with Bradford Community Trust and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bradford.