The Voices Within

Have you ever talked to yourself? Such is the stigma attached to any kind of mental abnormality, one is inclined to answer ‘no’. Privately, though, we do all talk to ourselves. Thoughts seem to bubble up unbidden. We issue reminders, cajolements, praise and corrections to ‘ourselves’ (whoever that may be). Our mental life is more akin to a choir than a single orator.


Ordinary thinking, indeed, is often a kind of conversation. It fills our heads with speech – the voices of reason, of memory, of self-encouragement and rebuke, the inner dialogue that helps us with tough decisions or complicated problems. For others –  the more pronounced voice-hearers, trauma-sufferers and prophets – the voices seem to be distinctly from the outside. There are friendly voices, and malicious ones, the voice of God or the Devil, and the muses of art and literature.

In The Voices Within, Royal Society Prize shortlisted psychologist Charles Fernyhough ( draws on extensive original research and a wealth of cultural touchpoints to reveal the workings of our inner voices, and how those voices link to creativity and development. From Virginia Woolf to the modern Hearing Voices Movement (, Fernyhough thoroughly overhauls our understanding of voice-hearers past and present. Building on the latest theories, including the new ‘dialogic thinking’ model, and employing state-of-the-art neuro-imaging and other ground-breaking research techniques, Fernyhough provides the most engaging guide to the voices in our heads. It’s also excellent science.


There’s a little voice prompting you to enquire at your local library. Check if this important book is in stock by consulting the online catalogue at



352 pages in Profile Books

First published 2016

ISBN  978-1781252796


Charles Fernyhough

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