Again I’m thinking of Vygotsky’s (1986) descriptions of the difference between inner and outer dialogues. Even if Meercat ‘rehearses’ the utterance she is going to say one cannot say for certain that what comes out is the same as what she has thought. This transition from thought to word is a continuous process, a movement back and forth, from thought to word and from word to thought. That is precisely what Meercat does with her pieces of jigsaw, “raving to put the pieces together”, speaking back and forth and repeating herself. In the course of this process changes will occur: Meercat’s thoughts are not only expressed by words, but as mentioned before, they come into existence through them.
Billig (1996) argues that thinking is a kind of inner argumentation and would perhaps say that what Meercat is doing is arguing with herself in this inner process. Her many voices are in dialogical movement and may not quite agree what to mean. For this reason Bakhtin would not call Meercat’s long incessant utterances, without interruptions, monologues.
When Meercat says that she is “sometimes taking the pieces back out, because they’ve not fit properly” I also think about how she tries out her thoughts by expressing them and thereby hearing them. Mead (1934) explains how we arouse, not only a response in the person we speak to, but also arouse the same tendency in ourselves by speaking out. Meercat will respond to her own stimuli as other people respond; when she is saying something, she is saying it to herself as well. It seems as if Meercat needs to hear what she is saying, withdraw it, modify, change etc. in a continuous process. I am impressed by how important it is to hear oneself talk, touch oneself and how underestimated this is in our human intercourse. We think people say something because they want to inform us but they may to an equal degree want to tell it to themselves. I think it is crucial to make room for these thought processes and I connect this to Meercat’s saying in the 1st research dialogue, that “something extra comes along unexpected”. That was what happened in this research conversation, when it suddenly changed into a therapy session. My role then was to witness and warrant Meercat’s new voices as they emerged.
7.3.4. My Reflection on the process that led to a Therapy Conversation Twenty minutes into the second research dialogue Meercat began to tell me that she had been wakened up by the phone: “I’ve heard my dad calling me, there’s Peter, that’s calling me, I’ve heard Jack calling ‘mum’…I go and put the log on, it’s no calls and it’s woke me up, you know. I keep 52
Dialogical Action Research - About therapeutic listening, creating space for voices to emerge and to be heard