cover image The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves

The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves

Charles Fernyhough. Basic, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-465-09680-0

Academic psychologist Fernyhough (Pieces of Light), whose previous fiction and nonfiction works have explored ideas of memory and consciousness, here dives deeply into “what it is like to inhabit our own minds.” Fernyhough proposes the theory of “dialogic thinking,” explaining that “focusing on the voices in our heads as internal dialogues” can help us understand our inner lives in new ways. Citing published experiments, his own anecdotal experiences, and religious and literary texts, he makes a thought-provoking case not only for his theory, but also for the idea that although “inner speech” requires language, it functions outside of linguistics—it unifies the brain in “a way not specific to any sensory channel.” Though the book is not about creativity per se, one of its highlights is its fascinating insight into the process of artistic creation, particularly writing. In another high point, the narrative gently prods readers into a wider and more empathetic view of pathologies such as aural hallucinations. Fernyhough’s book is a valuable addition to the literature surrounding the unending human quest to understand the location—and the creation—of the self. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)