Ivan Leudar
University of Manchester, Department of Psychology, UK





Auditory and verbal hallucinations are experiences whereby one hears a voice when no person is speaking. All such experiences have linguistic and pragmatic properties which are comparable to more ordinary speech which is directed to oneself. The exception is that these experiences feel alien to oneself and so they are not typically accepted as being the experiencer's own verbal actions (Leudar, Thomas, McNally & Glinski, 1997). In psychiatry and in cognitive clinical psychology these experiences are commonly treated in the domain of perception and explained as results of faulty reality testing, whereby inner and subjective experiences are confused for objective ones which are accessible to others. In fact, the voice hearers rarely make 'reality testing' errors of this sort. They instead reason about their experiences with resources provided by their culture, in situ and usually acknowledging alternative versions of the experiences (Leudar, 2001, Leudar & Sharrock, 2002). The presentation will provide a summary of my research on pragmatic properties of these experiences, and it will show that always they fit into the culture of the time and local context, even though some properties of these experiences seem invariant (Leudar & Thomas, 2000). I will pay particular attention to how the ontological status of these experiences is determined in interactions with others and implications for the dialogical models of 'the self' will be considered.


Leudar, I., Thomas, P., McNally, D. & Glinski, A. (1997). What voices can do with words: Pragmatics of verbal hallucinations. Psychological Medicine, 27, 885-898.

Leudar, I. & Thomas, P. (2000). Voices of reason, voices of insanity. Studies of verbal hallucinations. London: Routledge.

Leudar, I. (2001). Voices in history. Outlines: Critical Social Studies, 3, 5-18.

Leudar & Sharrock, W. (2002). The cases of John Bunyan. History and Psychiatry (in press)