Ffered from their authors source of inspiration In the case of this book it appears Smith s father had a terrible experience with auditory hallucinations and was tormented by them his entire life Not tormented in the sense that he couldn t escape them they were persecutory etc but tormented because he felt they were shameful and a harbinger of coming insanity that threatened to destroy the life he had builtNone of that came to pass and subseuently Smith discovered his grandfather also heard voices but had come terms with the experience early in life and found it benign as well as a source of insight Apparently the contradictory experiences of his male ancestors sent Smith in search of the meaningsourcehistory of voice hearing to see how seemingly sane individuals understand their experienceA sound enough starting point but it disintegrates from there It left me with the feeling of reading someone s not uite complete college thesis with the historical chapters about Socrates and Joan of Arc standing well on their own but not really integrated with the rest of the book Additionally the conclusion was a tacked on bit of insignificance leaving me hanging without the various threads the author traced tied together in any meaningful way To paraphrase another reviewer he basically concludes that some people who hear voices are insane but not all are so maybe we shouldn t lump everyone together In other words give ethereal inspirational voices a chance That said the individual chapters themselves provide an interesting read and some food for thought and the writing is uite solid despite the lack of an overall thesis for it to hang on Offered such promise but was unfortunatley a let down I read this book and expected to come away with a better understaning of voice hearing but instead received a short history lesson on past voice hearers such as Joan of Arc While I appreciate the author s attempt to pull direct experiences into the book he fell short of pulling everything together into a cohesive message The organization of the book was also frustrating The chapters did not flow and I found it difficult to finish it took me almost a month to finally plod through it Yet maybe that was the point Smith was trying to make Voice hearing still isn t well understood and people who experience it are often schizophrenic If he was trying to mimic schizophrenia then ob well done Like Consciousness A Very Short Introduction this book left me convinced that mind investigating mind is doomed to become lost in recursion and confusion In this book however the situation may have been improved if the author had established some working definitions early on and stuck with themSome interesting passages and observations some curious facts but no real substance to speak of I m still not really sure of what hearing voices means or how common it is in the population as a whol. The experience for them But it also obscures from the rest of us a rich wellspring of knowledge about the essential source of faith and inspiration As Smith examines the many incidences of people who have famously heard voices throughout history Moses Mohammed Teresa of Avila Joan of Arc Rilke William Blake Socrates and others he considers the experience of auditory hallucination in light of its relationship to the nature of pure faith and as the key to the source of artistic inspiration At the heart of Smith's exploration into the many extraordinary strange sometimes frightening and sometimes almost supernatural aspects of auditory hallucination is his driving personal need to comprehend an experience that when considered in good faith is as profound and complex as human consciousness itself.
This book gets five stars only because a book can t be rated with four and a half at goodreads Muses Madmen and Prophets is fascinating It s well written and seems well researched The conclusion is not particularly satisfying because auditory hallucinations remain such a mystery The reader is left to draw the reader s own conclusion and that s OK It s a non fiction book that does not take a linear approach to its subject It s worth the time it takes to read The subject of whether hearing voices is always pathological or not is very interesting and in some instances this book was very engaging But most of the time reading it was dull and poorly focused The chapter I enjoyed the most The Tyranny of Meaning where we actually get to hear about the differing viewpoints within modern psychology both from professionals and the voice hearers themselves And the history of the term hallucination and how it shaped the way we view people who hear voices was enlightening But I felt the chapters on Socrates and Joan of Arc were unnecessary and didn t mesh well with the rest of the book they were really besides the point And as others have mentioned the conclusion while I agree with it was weak The book made use of many other thorough sources that are probably useful to readers interested in exploring the issues addressed in this book further Auditory hallucination is an inherently interesting topic so this book was an easy read However I wished the author could have organized his flow of ideas better It was sort of a mish mash of psychology history and philosophy which wasn t tied together very wellAnd his conclusionthesis was very lame He basically ending the book saying to paraphrase A handful of hallucinatory people throughout history have been worth listening to so you should always pay attention to people who appear crazyBut again the content of the book was still very interesting and it s definitely worth reading It appears the voices I ve been hearing all my life aren t that unusual Oh I ust hear someone calling my name and to tell the truth it hasn t happened in a while but it used to be disconcerting I mean you re walking down the street or what s worse standing in an otherwise empty room you hear your name and turn around and there s no one there or no one that you know anyway And not a voice inside your head the voice comes from the outside and is very real Well something like 57% of people interviewed have had this type of auditory hallucination at one time or another This is nothing compared to Joan of Arc of course who had an on going conversation with a few saints or dear Allen Ginsberg who after an afternoon of masturbating on his couch heard William Blake reciting Do you understand that Allen was masturbating not BlakeWhat s that The big understanding for me is that the brain is the locus of everything Cut your finger and it s the brain The strange history of auditory hallucination throughout the ages and its power to shed light on the mysterious inner source of pure faith and unadulterated inspiration Auditory hallucination is one of the most awe inspiring terrifying and ill understood tricks the human psyche is capable of Muses Madmen and Prophets reevaluates the popular conception of the phenomenon today and through the ages and reveals the roots of the medical understanding and treatment of it It probes history literature anthropology psychology and neurology to explain and demystify the experience of hearing voices in a fascinating and at times funny uest for understanding Daniel B Smith's personal experience with the phenomenon his father heard voices and it was the great torment and shame of his father's life and his.
Hat feels the pain not the finger It s a good buddhist teachingAnyway considering the title I thought I d be in for a tabloid type read but the author doesn t get too excited and though not clinical it s not the kind of stuff you ust have to share with the guy sitting next to you on the bus Well on my bus the guy sitting next to me is usually having auditory hallucinations of his own especially between the King Co Jail and the Harborview ERThis was a moderately interesting read by an author who was trying to understand his father s mental illness and came to grips with the idea that his father though batty should have been treated kindly I couldn t agree Say what I am disappointed in this book Daniel Smith is a fine writer but he really does not tackle auditory hallucinations He has a whole chapter on the history of Socrates which consists of approximately two sentences on Socrates s voice hearing The same of Saint Joan of Arc Evidently Smith s father suffered from auditory hallucinations so perhaps this topic was too close to home for Smith to approach it in any sort of interesting thorough contemporary manner An interesting topic to be sure but Smith s personal anecdotes and references to his father s auditory hallucinations can seem intrusive and unnecessary Smith does a fine ob however of pointing out the contradictions inherent in the speech we often use to describe auditory hallucinations The word hallucination is so loaded it seems to already define hearing voices as something false and dangerous However many people who have heard voices including many of our ancient heroesprophets Moses Jeremiah Ezekiel Samuel the heroes of the Illiad and the Odyssey etc claim to be hearing the voice of God Are these people visionaries or madmen Who s to say Interesting and difficult uestions none of which Smith tries to answer with much certainty Enjoyed this broad view of the phenomenon of voice hearing which is accompanied by a number of famous case histories Socrates Joan of Arc William Blake but feel it could have been so much It is short on depth and detail I would have liked to have read about other less famous examples about the variety of theories that both professionals and hearers provide but most of all I would have liked a lucid and empathetic account of what it is actually like to hear voices The examples provided simply do not do ustice to the experience I feel or simply do not communicate it well enough which is ironic given the subject matter That said reading this book has provided me with the motivation to explore the subject further and to read widely in the search for a greater approximation of this peculiar human conditio This is the second book I ve finished this week that came into being as the self reported result of the author s needing to come to terms with his father s experience Both books have by turns benefited and su. Discovery that some people learn to live in peace with their voices fuels this contemplative brilliantly researched and inspired book Science has not been able to fully explain the phenomenon of auditory hallucination It is a condition that has existed perhaps as long as we have there is evidence of it in literature and even pre literate oral histories from across all times and cultures Smith presents the sophisticated and radical argument that a negative side effect of living as we do in this great age of medical science is that we have come to limit this phenomenon to nothing than a biochemical glitch for which the only proper response is medical pharmaceutical treatment This pathological assumption can inflict great harm on the people who hear voices by ignoring the meaning and reality of.
Daniel Smith is the author of Muses Madmen and Prophets and a contributor to numerous publications including The Atlantic The New York Times Magazine and Slate