Do you have an inner monologue

Do you have an inner monologue?

  • Yes, I "hear" complete sentences in my head

    Votes: 57 89.1%
  • No, my thoughts are not verbal

    Votes: 6 9.4%
  • Not sure/other (explain)

    Votes: 1 1.6%

  • Total voters
    64

maflynn

Moderator
Original poster
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,704
33,595
Boston
I stumbled upon this article and got me thinking.
People Are Weirded Out To Discover That Some People Don't Have An Internal Monologue

Fun fact: some people have an internal narrative and some don't

As in, some people's thoughts are like sentences they "hear", and some people just have abstract non-verbal thoughts, and have to consciously verbalize them

And most people aren't aware of the other type of person
I think the majority of people do have an inner monologue, i.e., an internal voice.

To get the ball rolling, I have an internal voice that is no different then my vocal voice. All joking aside, I find myself in having conversations internally as I debate a given decision.
 

MandiMac

macrumors 65816
Feb 25, 2012
1,207
625
Yes, and I can control that voice. It's like an audiobook with a lot of voice actors if I wish.
Sometimes, when learning something complex or being creative, I think visually as well. It's not only the voice.
 

theluggage

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2011
4,651
3,475
So, do I reply to this post, even though I've got nothing particularly original to add to it, but then this is the internet so who is going to notice, or do I get on with finishing that really boring document that I promised to write for someone, although its not like they're paying me anything and - hmm, its funny how I can write hundreds of words on the internet for fun, but doing the same for work is like pulling teeth which I should really get checked out because its like a year ago that I went to the dentist and I'm afraid that the crunchy bit in my lasagne the other day might have been a broken filling, which is funny because you can have a mouth full of mercury with no ill effects but I worry when I drop a CFL lightbulb of which I've only got about one that hasn't been replaced with LED yet so, wait, right, boring work or MR post which... hey, I could just write a rambling monologue which would be really funny and ironic and everybody on MR would like it in some sort of sad substitute for actual human interaction except its not sad when I do it because it's not hypocrisy when you know you're hypocritical and, whoops, I'm supposed to think about sex every five minutes or something so now for a brief word from our gonads *** ******* **** ** ****** ** ***** ***** and that's what they said but then I'm so meta that I think about the factoid that people are supposed to think about sex every five minutes every five minutes - hey, remember that one for when it comes up on some blog or other, so right, yes, let's do that post and maybe I can just cut & paste it into that boring document I'm supposed to write and nobody will notice... Also, what was this thread actually asking? Oh yes, I think that everybody has an internal monologue but some of them are written in emojis.

Edit: Arrgh. That's really hard to read, but if you go back and re-edit your internal monologue then you've really got problems. Oh, wait...
 
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arkitect

macrumors 603
Sep 5, 2005
5,950
5,731
Bath, United Kingdom
Do I have an inner monologue?
Yes, most definitely.

My inner voice is my other half… my Hyde to my Jekyll… or vice versa.

That is amplified by my solitary occupation — I do not work in an office surrounded by other people's voices. I have long conversations with myself about a range of things — almost as if I test things out as a dry run before they get used in conversation with others.
 

LizKat

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2004
6,467
35,083
Catskill Mountains
I can wonder about something way before I get around to verbalizing it even internally, am often conscious of that transition and then often curious about the choice of words I made.

So yes I have an internal monologue. Its initial phases are surely just increments up from autonomous functions and in that way like those of any living creature. The transition can be rocky, e.g. "What the heck is this?" may actually end up in the past tense because I was operating at a more essential, primal level and have already fled from whatever it was...


But in the internal verbalization phase I do sense that editorial function that @theluggage refers to. I like to think I can turn that off or dial it down when moving to external conversations. For people my age that can tend to run against the grain of the societal and parental teachings of our childhood. On the other hand even people far younger come to realize there are times when the internal editor beneficially keeps us from more or less handing ourselves our own behinds on a platter.... at work or at some snippy relative's dinner table.
 

Mousse

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2008
2,156
3,472
Flea Bottom, King's Landing
I have an inner monologue, but it tends to leak out. I'm afflicted by the Shakespearean tragic hero/comedic hero proclivity of talking to myself.
Yes, and I can control that voice. It's like an audiobook with a lot of voice actors if I wish.
Sometimes, when learning something complex or being creative, I think visually as well. It's not only the voice.
Each one of my personalities have his own voice. Mousse has the normal voice. Meus (rhymes with Zeus) has goombah tough guy voice. Moose has the Deep South accent. Meuce (rhymes with Deuce) speaks in broken Engrish. Muce (rhymes with Bruce) has an accent somewhere between Governator (Ah-nold) and Henry Kissinger.
 

vkd

macrumors 6502a
Sep 10, 2012
911
311
Advanced yogis from India know this inner voice as Paramatma, the Supersoul. The Supersoul is there accompanying all the living entities, sometimes he'll help you but be careful because there is also your mind, which is just like a mirror reflecting back to you past experiences, accepting and rejecting, etc. So what is your mind and what is Supersoul? Focus...
 

LizKat

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2004
6,467
35,083
Catskill Mountains
I'd love to get a bettter understanding of the construction processes behind interior monologues of multilingual people who grow up equally at ease in two or more languages. It has seemed to me as though their choice of not only words but the timing of shifts in languages may shed a little light on who they are or may become besides just "multilingual".

An example from my own childhood: two boys I knew well then, who were fluent in English and Spanish from birth, tended when speaking to each other to respond in whichever language one or the other had launched the conversation. They were brothers. One grew up to become a social worker, the other a small business owner. At work or at home, they both always spoke in the language in which they were first being addressed by their particular family member, client or customer.

But their little sister as a child had often paused for just a nano-beat in mid sentence --almost impatiently, the way a kid might when conversing with someone and in the distance suddenly hearing "Sara, time for dinner!"-- and her next word or next phrase might be in the other language. Sometimes then though she'd immediately shift back to the original language -- and all this in the presence of her brothers or other bilingual Spanish-English speakers in her hearing. She ended up as a poet and translator. If there were ever occupations meant for careful choosers of words, those are two of them.

I always found that contrast in how the kids spoke and their choices of careers just fascinating. So I've wondered sometimes what the interior monologue of a polyglot is really like, i.e. whether not just a "conversation" but also a debate over how to conduct it, even in privacy of one's own mind.
 

Septembersrain

Contributor
Dec 14, 2013
3,837
4,694
Texas
What? Are you telling me some people literally don't have an internal dialogue? Mine never shuts up. This would be a skill or ability I'd love to possess. I wonder how that affects their decision making or interactions with others.

It seems unfathomable to me.
 

retta283

macrumors 68000
Jun 8, 2018
1,774
1,574
Kingman, AZ
I definitely do have an inner monologue. I almost always do this, although I never thought about the fact that I do it until now. It's just the way I've processed things during my life.
 
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compwiz1202

macrumors 65832
May 20, 2010
1,503
838
What? Are you telling me some people literally don't have an internal dialogue? Mine never shuts up. This would be a skill or ability I'd love to possess. I wonder how that affects their decision making or interactions with others.

It seems unfathomable to me.
Exactly. Before I say most anything, my mind runs endless scenarios, so I wind up not saying anything because eventually at least one embarrassing scenario is run.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
51,780
35,363
The Far Horizon
I'd love to get a bettter understanding of the construction processes behind interior monologues of multilingual people who grow up equally at ease in two or more languages. It has seemed to me as though their choice of not only words but the timing of shifts in languages may shed a little light on who they are or may become besides just "multilingual".

An example from my own childhood: two boys I knew well then, who were fluent in English and Spanish from birth, tended when speaking to each other to respond in whichever language one or the other had launched the conversation. They were brothers. One grew up to become a social worker, the other a small business owner. At work or at home, they both always spoke in the language in which they were first being addressed by their particular family member, client or customer.

But their little sister as a child had often paused for just a nano-beat in mid sentence --almost impatiently, the way a kid might when conversing with someone and in the distance suddenly hearing "Sara, time for dinner!"-- and her next word or next phrase might be in the other language. Sometimes then though she'd immediately shift back to the original language -- and all this in the presence of her brothers or other bilingual Spanish-English speakers in her hearing. She ended up as a poet and translator. If there were ever occupations meant for careful choosers of words, those are two of them.

I always found that contrast in how the kids spoke and their choices of careers just fascinating. So I've wondered sometimes what the interior monologue of a polyglot is really like, i.e. whether not just a "conversation" but also a debate over how to conduct it, even in privacy of one's own mind.
Fascinating story.

A Scottish academic colleague with whom I worked over two decades ago was married to a Portuguese academic; their children were bi-lingual.

However, this was more than simply language, it was also how context and culture influenced the way language was used.

I remember her telling me about how the kids had to switch not just the language they spoke when travelling to Scotland (and, subsequently, back to Portugal) but also had to (know how to) precisely change how this specific language was spoken in a given or particular context.

Thus, English - even informally - was deemed a more "polite" language (than Portuguese, which was more 'direct' as is Spanish), and the kids found that, if they merely translated (flawlessly and fluently) from Portuguese to English to communicate wth their Scottish relatives, initially, they came across as blunt - and even rude - in that cultural context - until they corrected themselves and adopted a more understated mode of expression.

Conversely, on their return to Portugal, they found that (if translating exactly from their fluent English to their equally fluent Portuguese) they were speaking a form of Portuguese that was excessively formal and polite, one which their friends derided, (referring to them as the Portuguese equivalent of snobby gits) until they (rapidly) adapted to the cultural norms of a less inhibited way of expressing themselves. Apparently, adjusting for cultural norms took a little longer than simply switching into either of the languages they had mastered completely.
 
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LizKat

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2004
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Do I have an inner monologue?
Yes, most definitely.

My inner voice is my other half… my Hyde to my Jekyll… or vice versa.

That is amplified by my solitary occupation — I do not work in an office surrounded by other people's voices. I have long conversations with myself about a range of things — almost as if I test things out as a dry run before they get used in conversation with others.

[ So another member returns from unspecified adventures of some duration! I had recently noticed absence of more than a few people whose posts I've appreciated in the past, and I was starting to wonder if Cal Newport's "digital minimalism" had perhaps afflicted all of them, with or without their having known his book even existed. Allow me to say thanks again here for your having posted that link to a Jessye Norman rendition of the Mahler fifth Ruckert lieder back when we learned she had passed away. ]

On the interior monologues: I've noticed when a new quilting project is bubbling around in my head, usually based on some fabric I've seen or sometimes a photograph I want to try to emulate parts of in fabrics or needlework, I have to actively work to suppress internal misgivings that almost take the form of a conversation. Sometimes I end up having to verbalize either encouragement or admonitions or both sometimes, just to be able to resume thinking "outside the box" -- stuff like "Shut up, I can do this!"
 

LizKat

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2004
6,467
35,083
Catskill Mountains
Are you telling me some people literally don't have an internal dialogue?
Some seem to have no barrier between their first, gut-level impression of anything and the next great thing to spring from their Twitter account.

Have a look at replies to even the most innocuous headline-only posts to Twitter from news outlets, like "Cincinnati scores two in bottom of ninth to maintain streak." They run the gamut from insulting the headline writer ("you couldn't spell Moustakas' name so you just f'g left it out??") to insulting the mother of the pitcher who served up a fat one to Moustakas at a critical moment.

I wonder how that affects their decision making or interactions with others.
Poorly but not usually so they'd notice soon enough?
 
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Septembersrain

Contributor
Dec 14, 2013
3,837
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Texas
Yes, it's always running and I can't mute it either. I asked some people at work today and about 50% said they did not, which sort of blew my mind.
Woah! That would be both miraculous and terrifying to think of having that internal silence.

How do they function?

Isn't this essentially like not having a conscious? Or a diminished one?
 
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MisterSavage

macrumors 68020
Nov 10, 2018
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2,080
Yes, it's always running and I can't mute it either. I asked some people at work today and about 50% said they did not, which sort of blew my mind.
Really annoying when you're trying to fall asleep. I read a tip to slowly start counting backwards from 100 to force yourself to only think about that. It actually does make my inner monologue shut up!
 
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556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
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Woah! That would be both miraculous and terrifying to think of having that internal silence.

How do they function?

Isn't this essentially like not having a conscious? Or a diminished one?
I'm not really sure what it's like, or how to do it justice with a description. They said they sort of feel different emotions and picture things/actions, rather than think in words.
 
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