Interpreting verbal hallucinations: The relevance of Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics.

This article seeks to defend the thesis that Auditory Verbal Hallucinations (AVHs) can be interpretable and meaningful phenomena. By meaningful, I mean to argue that AVHs can be motivated events—even if they are experienced as alien and uncontrollable—and, as such, they are expressions the meanings of which can be seen as determined in a manner comparable with dialogical speech. In working toward a hermeneutic of AVHs, I will begin by reviewing pertinent literature that justifies the claim that we can view certain cases of AVHs as essentially involving a disruption to one’s relationship with inner speech and thought. From here, given a view of AVHs as fundamentally dialogical, I argue that the interpretation of AVHs ought to be grounded within an analysis of the nature of language and understanding. For this, I will turn to the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer, whose ontology of language can be said as being formulated via an explication of linguistic understanding as it occurs in conversation and, thus, of significant relevance to understanding the nature and meaning of AVHs as they are construed in this article. The hermeneutic framework developed in this article will be further elaborated on and applied by discussing a clinical example. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)