Alien voices and inner dialogue: towards a developmental account of auditory verbal hallucinations
The phenomenon of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) is one of the most intriguing features of the psychiatric literature. Two alternative models of the development of AVHs in both normal and psychotic populations are proposed. In the disruption to internalisation (DI) model, AVHs result from a disruption to the normal processes of internalisation of inner speech. In the re-expansion (RE) model, AVHs result when normal inner speech is re-expanded into inner dialogue under conditions of stress and cognitive challenge. Both models draw on Vygotsky's (The Collected Works Of L.S. Vygotsky, New York, Plenum Press, 1987) ideas about the development of inner speech. On this view, normal inner speech is considerably abbreviated relative to external speech, and also undergoes some important semantic transformations. In both the DI and RE models, AVHs arise when the subject's inner speech involves inappropriately expanded inner dialogue, leading the subject to experience the voices in the dialogue as alien. The two models may prove useful in explaining some of the social-developmental evidence surrounding the phenomenon, and also make a number of testable predictions which are suggested as priorities for future research.