Today I Learned That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue And It Has Ruined My Day.

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My day was completely ruined yesterday when I stumbled upon a fun fact that absolutely obliterated my mind. I saw this tweet yesterday that said that not everyone has an internal monologue in their head. All my life, I could hear my voice in my head and speak in full sentences as if I was talking out loud. I thought everyone experienced this, so I did not believe that it could be true at that time.

Literally the first person I asked was a classmate of mine who said that she can not “hear” her voice in her mind. I asked her if she could have a conversation with herself in her head and she looked at me funny like I was the weird one in this situation. So I began to become more intrigued. Most people I asked said that they have this internal monologue that is running rampant throughout the day. However, every once in a while, someone would say that they don’t experience this.  

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My life began to slowly spiral out of control with millions of questions. How do they get through the day? How do they read? How do they make decisions between choice A and choice B? My friend described it as “concept maps” that she sees in her brain. Another friend says that she literally sees the words in her head if she is trying to think about something. I was taking ibuprofen at this point in the day because my brain was literally unable to comprehend this revelation. How have I made it 25 years in life without realizing that people don’t think like me? 

NoUkL6drTiahwkMY0qqBJQ_thumb_13d6.jpgI posted a poll on instagram to get a more accurate assessment of the situation. Currently 91 people have responded that they have an internal monologue and 18 people reported that they do not have this. I began asking those people questions about the things that they experience and it is quite different from the majority.

I would tell them that I could look at myself in the mirror and have a full blown telepathic conversation with myself without opening my mouth and they responded as if I had schizophrenia. One person even mentioned that when they do voice overs in movies of people’s thoughts, they “wished that it was real.”

gfva7cPSQEGZvIHGIM0vlg_thumb_13e5And to their surprise, they did not know that the majority of people do in fact experience that echoey voice in their head that is portrayed in TV and film. Another person said that if they tried to have a conversation with themselves in the mirror, they would have to speak out loud because they can’t physically do it inside of their mind. 

 I started posting screenshots of these conversations on my instagram and my inbox started UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13e2to flood with people responding to my “investigation.” Many people were reassuring me that I was not crazy for having an internal monologue, while others were as absolutely mind blown as I was. People were telling me that I ruined their day and that they now do not understand anything about life. Maybe you are all just a figment of my imagination, but regardless, yesterday made reality seem even more skewed. 

How do they think? How does this affect their relationships, jobs, experiences, education? How has this not been mentioned to me before? All of these questions started flooding my mind. Can those people without the internal monologue even formulate these questions in their mind? If they can, how does it happen if they don’t “hear” their voice? I mentioned earlier that I was spiraling out of control. Well, as I write this and as I hear my own voice in my head, I am continuing to fall down the rabbit hole. 

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Whether people just have different definitions of their thoughts, or if people literally don’t have an internal monologue, there is one thing that we do know… you will definitely get a headache if you keep thinking about this. Just trying to wrap my head around it is causing irreversible brain damage. I suggest asking people around you what they experience. If you are one of the few that do not have this internal monologue, please enlighten me, because I still do not understand life anymore. Send help.

@RyanLangdon_

 

2,432 thoughts on “Today I Learned That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue And It Has Ruined My Day.

  1. Curious to know if people without internal monologue can get songs stuck in their head. Can you hear the beat and music in the song or even the lyrics?

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    • Very much so. It’s very frustrating to me sometimes, since it interferes with my ability to create my novels. Sometimes when I’m really concentrating on a scene, I’ll even start to hear music. I remember them by the lyrics, mostly. I can’t remember purely instrumental music very well at all, just a few pieces, really.

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      • I usually hear lyrics, but what really stands out to me is the melodies, harmonies, and instrumentals. While I wouldn’t be able to recreate any of the harmonies from memory, I still “hear” them.

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    • Of course! For me, the song isn’t part of my thoughts; it’s out of my control, playing mostly on its own. It does play at the same speed as the actual song did, which is slow enough for words. I often find myself mouthing lyrics even though I’ve managed to push the song out of my conscious awareness. My thoughts have nothing to do with the song.

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      • That’s interesting because singing a song in your mind is much like speaking in your mind. Both involve words, are largely involuntary, are hard to stop, and you “hear” them the same way.

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      • Not true. My thoughts are very different from songs. They consist of a horde of disconnected words, occasional phrases, snippets of random sensory experiences, mental images, feelings, and static all being dragged behind a Maglev at Mach 5. That is to say, they are much faster and more disorderly than songs. At their most orderly, my thoughts may consist of a single mental movie accompanied by a bunch of feelings that are all related to each other. At their most disorderly, I find myself mouthing lyrics without being aware of it because all the noise drowned out the music. Imagine a violent war movie with background music, and that’s what I’m talking about. Except the images on the screen are capable of dissolving to static or moving too fast to be seen, just like the sounds are. The background music stays background music, though, still coherent and usually quieter than the rest.

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  2. As a psychologist, sounds to me like the absence of working memory. Never seen it in a person without brain damage, down syndrome, or lack of cognitive problems. So fascinating. I wonder how does she memorize a grocery list at the store?

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    • As a psychologist, what do you think of this idea I’ve come up with? I have no idea who your comment is referring to, but it got me thinking, and what I thought is this. I’ve said it in other comments, that my mind is like a turbulent river that actually has several different currents inside it. One current might be whatever I’m trying to think about, other are streams of sensory information, memories and story ideas that I could start thinking about instead if they cross paths with and wash out the first current, and there are a multitude of others too. Working memory matches what I think I’ve described as the parts that get caught in eddies. Like, I might take the effort to create “coffee, laundry, milk” when I need to head downstairs to get those things, and make that thought into a loop, which repeats the same way a song would, except that unlike songs in my head, I can break this loop when it’s no longer useful. Working memory is its own sub-current, traveling in slow circles. It can be disrupted; that’s why I say “traveling.” But then it would spin off into a different loop, not a stream like the rest.

      Sorry for the overly long reply, I just wanted to talk about this “River model of thought” that I kind of invented after reading this post, and I got sidetracked onto exactly where your comment fits in it. My main point is, what do you think of it? The basic premise of it is that thought is split, and different parts can operate independently. I can go downstairs repeating “coffee, laundry, milk” interspersed with a song that I have in my head, while seeing a new story idea play out and also wondering if snakes have irises. I attribute this busyness to multiple streams of thought. As a psychologist, what say you? Does the idea of split thoughts have any merit? Is there any previous research you could direct me to?

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