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.
"[Leudar and Thomas] are able to establish some useful principles for separating hallucinated voices from usual social discourse. [Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity] exhibits good cohesiveness...I suspect that it may become a classic of psychological literature. I would recommend it to anyone who works with individuals who hallucinate.."
-John J. Haggerty, Jr., M.D., Psychiatric Services, A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, March 2003
"This is an extremely interesting book in that it presents an historical overview of the way that voice hearing experiences have been written about, described, experienced and debated. It culminates with recent data that the authors (a psychologist and a psychiatrist) have collected on modern day voice hearers accounts of their voices in terms of pragmatic analysis of their characters."
-Journal of Coginitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, Fall 2001