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_

 

2,357 comments

  1. jbinks · 4 Days Ago

    My best friend is unable to see an image. If you ask him to think of a tree, all he sees is the word tree, which of course tells him very little. (I on the other hand, would immediately visualize something with enough detail that I could tell you if it was, say deciduous or conifer, and if it was deciduous, the color of the leaves, a vague shape, etc.) If you begin to describe it, the words you use will appear in his mind and attach themselves to the root word tree. It’s like some 3-D version of sentence diagramming, for those old enough to remember that torture in English class.

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    • David Steinberg · 3 Days Ago

      As a child, I remember only thinking by concepts and impressions. I now think in a combination of words and abstract concepts, so I feel able to empathize with people who use either method.

      Some concepts are much easier to think than they are to describe, which by extension makes them difficult to communicate.

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  7. Liz · 3 Days Ago

    I have no pictures inside my head at all. If I tried to picture a tree the only thing I could “see” in my head would be darkness. If I didn’t have an inner monologue my brain would be empty. All I have is the sound of my thoughts. In fact I couldn’t turn the words off if I tried. I envy people who can read a book and see a movie of it in their mind. When I close my eyes to visualize something all I see is the back of my eyelids. I have a child with autism who does not speak much and I often wondered what it’s like inside their head. It makes my heart glad to know that it’s possible to have a rich inner life without words.

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    • Elisabet Nilsson · 2 Days Ago

      I am a person who love words. I write (sometimes as a job) , I read a lot. I always learn the lyrics for music. I can not say I ever hear my own voice when I think. Sometimes I make a decision to think with words, and then it is more like a narrative in my head. I do read books “like movies” , where I see the story as a film rather than words. Everything I think about is actually usually a little movie in my head. A silent but extremely colourful and detailed movie.

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  11. Nemesis · 2 Days Ago

    I can even play movies in my head. I thought, I’m crazy but reading this made me realized that I’m not the only one who had a internal debate everyday. 😂

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  12. Mix · 2 Days Ago

    I can think in my head like what you said that you can talk to yourself in the mirror i can do that too, but when imagining something i can imagine it yes but the color would be different it would be darker when i close my eyes but i can still put an image in my head and imagine it, i wonder how people without an imaginations in their head go through with it im interested and want to know more.

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  14. Katha · 1 Day Ago

    Wow. Since reading this I’m trying to understand. But the hardest part is to find out how it happens in my own head. As soon as I try to consciously understand how I think it gets mixed up.
    I’d put it that way:
    I can form sentences in my head, like if I would be speaking to someone or write something down without actually doing it. But I am never hearing a voice.
    In my day to day life I don’t have an inner monolgue and I defenitley thought “I wish that was a thing” when this voice in peoples head is portrayed in TV and film.
    I’m not sure how exactly I do think though. I can picture things and scenes and pictures in my head. But I’m not sure I “see” them. I do read books more “like movies”, too.
    I’m still trying to figure it out but as I said: as soon as I think about it slips aways.

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  15. Susan McLaughlin · 1 Day Ago

    Lol. I have an entire cadre in my head, monitoring my interactions with the outside world. It used to bother me, the incessant noise, criticism, impulsive pushes, the visual performances, and self analysis. The middle of the night sessions are the worst. They can sometimes be tough to shut down. I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t happening. One day, when transitioning between anticonvulsants, it all stopped. It all stopped. To say I was lost doesn’t come close to explaining what happened. I became furiously angry. Almost uncontrollably. I am not trained, it became apparent, to interact with the outside world. Well, I learned I had to, quickly. Nobody really cares about your internal oddities. Slowly, as I adjusted to the new medicine, I returned to my “normal’. I am fine with being like this.

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    • E, ROBOT · 1 Day Ago

      We all either learn to live with ourselves or go mad.

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  17. andreaallennyc · 4 Hours Ago

    I definitely think in words (and images), but can’t recall ever hearing my voice. I’d love to see data on this more finely broken out.

    Like

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