Confusions about ‘Inner’ and ‘Outer’ Voices: Conceptual Problems in the Study of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionReview of Philosophy and Psychology. 2021. 10.1007/s13164-021-00532-x
Both in research on Auditory Verbal Hallucinations (AVHs) and in their clinical assessment, it is common to distinguish between voices that are experienced as ‘inner’ (or ‘internal’, ‘inside the head’, ‘inside the mind’, ...) and voices that are experienced as ‘outer’ (‘external’, ‘outside the head’, ‘outside the mind’, ...). This inner/outer-contrast is treated not only as an important phenomenological variable of AVHs, it is also often seen as having diagnostic value. In this article, we argue that the distinction between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ voices is ambiguous between different readings, and that lack of disambiguation in this regard has led to flaws in assessment tools, diagnostic debates and empirical studies. Such flaws, we argue furthermore, are often linked to misreadings of inner/outer-terminology in relevant 19th and early twentieth century work on AVHs, in particular, in connection with Kandinsky’s and Jaspers’s distinction between hallucinations and pseudo-hallucinations.