Losing one's voice: dialogical psychology and the unspeakable

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The portrayal of the self as constitutionally dialogical is fast becoming an established and familiar feature of the psychological landscape. With growing influence and recognition comes a necessity to engage with critical dialogue, which has marked the concept’s more recent development. Drawing on insights in psychology and Judith Butler’s philosophy, it will be argued that the linguistic and voiced connotations of the dialogical self may be limiting a more complex understanding of the inter-subjective constitution of selfhood. It is argued that pre-reflective intersubjectivity, unspoken and "unspeakable" aspects of self-dialogue, and active psychological processes of disavowal raise profound cultural and psychological questions about the role of the "voice" in the dialogical achievement of selfhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-361
Number of pages20
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2010


  • dialogical
  • disavowal
  • narrative
  • subjectivity
  • unconscious
  • voice


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