Smith's father and grandfather both heard voices, and thereby hangs the tale Smith tells at the outset, and also his interest in the phenomenon of hearing people speak when no one else can and without otherwise sensing them. Research indicates that hearing voices isn't all that rare; that many cope well with it, belying its association with madness; and that so many parts of the brain are involved in audition that finding those responsible for hearing voices may be impossible. Smith proceeds from present-day science to the nineteenth-century labeling of hearing voices as hallucinatory, and then to famous cases of it, most of them preceding but one during its pathologization. Socrates (Smith posits that the voices the philosopher heard affected his sentencing to death), Joan of Arc, and a German jurist who largely recovered from schizophrenic voice hearing are the three figures about whom Smith writes so intelligently and absorbingly that one wishes he had covered others he notes, especially William Blake, as fully. One also wants to read more of him, on any subject he chooses. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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