TIL that some people do not have an inner voice and think in different nonverbal ways.

submitted by realitista edited


cross-posted from: https://lemmit.online/post/2916897

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The original was posted on /r/science by /u/mvea on 2024-05-15 10:17:06+00:00.

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I’ve seen this conversation come up so many times and I’m never not fascinated by it. I have a nonstop internal monologue, it can be exhausting really. But I can’t fully wrap my head around thinking without it

The Fire Witch , edited

I have ADHD, it's like having talk radio permanently on in my head. Often times I'll have an internal monologue playing on top of internal background music.


I have ADHD too but in my case I don't actually "hear" any of the thoughts. But they exist similar to how you describe. At any given time I can feel multiple different thoughts kind of floating around. When music gets stuck in my head I don't so much hear it in there as I feel the presence of a song. So I have to talk out loud in order to keep from losing the thread of what I was thinking about.


I’m the same way, if I don’t talk out loud or write my ideas down I can’t think straight. Without an inner monologue my thoughts just feel like a jumbled abstract soup I have to manually untangle by speaking. I also get songs stuck in my head, but I’ve always explained it as feeling a particular part of the rhythm, or almost feeling the lyrics in my mouth like I’m speaking them.


Me too. People like you are fascinating to me. When I first found out that everyone thinks differently I went around interrogating everyone I knew about how they think.

I don't have an interior monologue unless Im typing, but I sometimes use my internal "sound system" to play music.


Me too!! I had my nephew and his wife arguing at dinner about whether the inner voice was real or god. 🤣


My mental radio is rarely off, but I don't have an internal monologue.


i dont have one at all, i think, i don't even have one when typing, which i think leads to a lot of weird mistakes, sometimes i'll just interject a completely random word, or pickup halfway through a sentence with a completely different sentence, it's weird sometimes.


I can see that could have that effect! I pretty much need it for typing, it's like an act of translation. I have to write a lot for work or I probably wouldn't have started doing it that way.

If someone is talking or the radio is on when I type I will accidentally include some of the words from those sources.


usually im pretty good with typing, ironically. The problem is that if i start to multi focus on things, it gets really messy, just having music in the background isn't enough to cause me problems though, neither having youtube videos, though it's impossible for me to focus enough on the video to understand whats happening, while being able to type legibly.

if i'm rapidly jumping between things, like reading something, and talking to people on discord, while listening to music, i can absolutely throw random words in places they shouldnt be, it's weird.

nickwitha_k (he/him)

That's really fascinating and similar to how I think, I think. Like, typing, reading, or thinking about things that are by nature verbal get internally verbalized but in an atonal "narrator voice", though it's still not "quiet" otherwise. I also have what I call my "internal walkman" for playing music in a recording/playback manner (sometimes with some "skips"), rather than any voice of my own.


My inner monologue can easily turn into me talking to myself.


I too have an internal monologue. I was high on mushrooms and I thought to myself "What would it be like not have an inner monologue?" Then I had an existential crisis on top of an already emotional workout trip.


What happens to your monologue when you're not thinking about it though?

When your senses provide information about tastes or sounds, isn't that a kind of thinking without the monologue?


You're able to turn yours off??


I’ve battled insomnia for my whole life and not being able to shut off the monologue is the main reason


Try playing tv or radio in s different language. There's still the sound but you don't get sucked in.


i've found "space music ambience" to work very well, it's stimulating but not too engaging. Voices don't work for me no matter what language it's in, because i'll try to interpret it.


i've had similar issues with sleeping myself, and i've found oftentimes having something playing in the background will help. Literally anything for my brain to focus on without expending so much energy i'm focusing directly on it. White noise might help, i've found rain and thunderstorms particularly good for that itch. I used to watch yt to fall asleep, and still do on occasion, but that doesn't seem to work as well anymore.

Lately i've been pulling up a yt video and trying to doze off about when it ends, and that seems to work pretty well.

when i'm not doing a variant of that i'm usually doing some sort of pseudo meditation where i actively focus on nothing. That works if i can keep at it. That or not sleeping at all, because my shits fucked up lol.


I struggled with insomnia a lot.

Podcasts and audiobooks helped me immensely. I have wireless headphones but I don't "wear" them, I just rest them on top of whichever ear. I turn the volume down to a level where I need to concentrate to hear the words. It's exceedingly rare that it takes me more than 15 minutes to fall asleep these days. Staying asleep is another story though.


Oh that’s interesting, I’ll try that


keep your eyes open in the dark; do all the things that trigger your master and tissue specific circadian rhythm like cooler temp, no food before bed, no blue light for hours before bed; blah blah blah


I wouldn't describe it that way, no.

I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm not some kind of mindfulness / meditation guru and have no business trying to explain such things to anyone else given I have such a poor understanding myself.

I think really I'm just talking about feeling feelings. The monologue might be reporting on sensory inputs "that spoonful of peanut butter has a very sticky mouthfeel!" but there's an underlying feeling. You can kind of feel the feeling and disregard the chatter.


For me, my inner voice is muted when I am focused on something, like working on a task or playing a video game.

The second I stop focusing, the inner voice starts.

If I do nothing, it's usually a song that is stuck in my head.

As for other senses, for me, it is the same as focusing on a task. When my senses are activated, the inner voice stops.

If I am reading something and I know thr voice of the person that wrote that, I automatically read in their voice and it is extremely hard to read in my voice.


Does you inner monologue have a voice? Mine is just... Voiceless? Like, pure translation. I never think in "My Voice".


My inner monologue has my voice, like I hear myself talk.


Mine is constantly whatever song my brain has decided is that days hit. Most of the time im able to tune it out but that doesn't mean that 100% that songs playing over and over audibly in my head, it just varies how loud it is at that moment


It doesn’t shut off, I think visually and through the experiences of the senses in part too but the words always accompany the images/senses


It's fascinating to me, too.

I have seen everything by now: People who think that only sociopaths have an inner monologue. People who think an inner monologue would be useful, but can't quite lean in on the concept. People who are confused that some people *don't* have an inner monologue. People getting angry at me for even "questioning" the inner monologue, as if it was holy.


It’s an interesting exercise in trying to understand the experience of others while removing our own biases. Doesn’t always go so well I guess! So how do you think?? I really can’t tell from your comment


The brain structures develop to help us navigate through the environment. So of course, at times where an inner monologue is helpful, we will probably have one.


Same, sometimes I even move my mouth when I talk to myself if I am too engaged in my internal dialogue. Freaks my wife out sometimes.

efstajas , edited

I think that's pretty normal to some extent, I remember reading that you can kinda see people's inner monologue on a head MRI based on tiny movements of speech organs. Take this with a massive grain of salt, no idea where I read that and too lazy to find it right now lol.

Personally I definitely notice every now and then that when I activate my inner voice I also *slightly* move my tongue etc. as if I was saying what it says.


Can you 'replay' music in your head?


Yes…but it has my voice singing on top of the song’s original singer


This is a really interesting question. If I were a researcher, I'd try to go chase this topic, since it seems to be fairly quantifiable.

Like Mudskipper, I can replay music in my head but it has a few caveats: I don't really process the instruments.... I remember the pitch/volume/etc but primarily of vocals. I also replay with the original singer's voice and not my own. Replaying a few songs in my head now and I can't even focus on the instruments if there were vocals unless they are critical to how the song works, like a bass drop. If I try to replay music that is instrumental, I get verbal recreations, like someone performing the song acapella. If i focus hard, I can hear instruments instead, but that requires thinking about it. This matches how I 'sing along' with instrumental pieces in otherwise verbal songs. It might just be that the backing music isn't retained, so I can remember the melody, but not, say, a bass line unless the bass is being highlighted.

Are there people who CAN'T replay music in their heads? Are they immune to 'ear-worms' or do they just perceive it differently?


I'm one of the 5-10%. I always sucked at verbal memory tasks. Didn't know some people have an real, interpretable internal monologue until a few years ago. I thought thinking nonverbally was the default. I even specifically remember watching shows and movies where you listen to a character's internal internal monologue and thinking "this is dumb, that's not how thinking works". Turns out it is, and I'm just in the minority! Now I make an effort to manually start an internal monologue when I'm doing anything that requires a lot of verbal processing, like listening to instructions at work. It helps, but I can still tell that I have a deficit compared to most people when it comes to those things.


Your anecdote seems to support that it's a learned behavior/skill, which tracks for me. I have a very active internal dialogue that's difficult to turn off. I say dialogue instead of monologue because I often make up "other voices" that bounce ideas off each other, and this generally happens without my conscious effort. I think I developed this because as I was growing up I was encouraged to pray regularly, and I was very fanatically religious as a kid so I did so as often as I could. I prayed silently so often in fact that my thoughts were basically a constant one-sided monologue directed to god. Whenever I would daydream or let my imagination wander I would imagine god responding, and eventually the constant monologue became a dialogue. I would work out problems or make decisions by having conversations with an imaginary god. When I stopped believing in god the second voice never went away, I just started recognizing it as my own.


Okay, now I have to know if religious individuals are more likely to have an inner voice. That just makes sense!!!


Perhaps! I also think internal monologues can develop just from learning to read and write silently. Having an inner voice makes it easier to absorb the information in a book or to plan out your writing in advance.


Having an inner voice makes it easier to absorb the information in a book

I think all of our brains are wired different and the different wiring leads to advantages in one thing but it's probably a disadvantage for others. For instance I have no inner voice but my reading speed, with comprehension, is *well* faster than nearly anyone I've ever met. I can even sometimes recall precisely where on a page a given word or phrase was located, even years after reading the material. However I'm almost entirely unable to imagine a 3 dimensional object and rotate it in my "minds eye".

Schmoo , edited

That does make me wonder if maybe I use my inner voice as a bit of a crutch when I'm reading, but I think it helps me infer tone and get immersed in what I'm reading. Perhaps I am sacrificing some reading speed but I do believe it helps me with comprehension and memory.

Though I will add that it's more the concepts that I remember than the words themselves. Give me a quote and I couldn't tell you what page and where on the page it was, but I could tell you what was happening in that scene, what happened before and after, what the character was feeling and why they said it, who they said it to and so on.


Same on remembering exactly where i read something. I used to be a fast reader - out of practice. Maybe it's being able to skim instead of hearing every word?

Aceticon , edited

I have an inner voice but I don't use it when I'm reading, which is maybe why I am a very fast reader.

I tend to use it when pondering on things. That said I just noticed that when composing and cross-checking this text for posting, I also used it.

Curiously, nowadays my inner voice is not just in my own mothertongue but can be in just about any of the languages I know enough for basic conversation. It's probably related to, because my foreign language skills are so advanced (I can speak about 7 languages) that I've long stopped translating to my native tongue in my mind and concepts just translate directly from those foreign languages. Also, I've lived in a couple of countries and as I would eventually end up mainly speaking the local language, my inner voice would also, eventually, end up also using that language.


There's actually a theory that back in ye olden times when inner monologues first started, people thought it was God talking to them because it was a new phenomenon and that didn't have any way to understand that it was some kind of evolution of consciousness, not a god.


Yeah Jensen's work. It is mostly considered pseudoscience today but there some who think it has value.


I mean the NVIDIA stock price speaks for itself, I think Jensen is onto something


Ha! Good one.

On a serious note here are the issues * He can't explain how the event impacted the rest of the world. Only a fraction of the human race was there. How does he explain China for example? * We already know that meta-cognition isn't limited to humans. A rat that knows where food is vs ones that do not engage in different behaviors. * He can't explain the almost superhuman reflex speeds some people have in modern times under his model.

I do agree some of it rings true. Just very hard to pin down what exactly.


I am trying to wrap my head around this. So if you are just walking down the street alone, watching cars go by, not reading, there a voice? What would it even be saying?


Yes, multiple voices, probably debating what I'm going to cook for dinner later. At this point I might be going a bit too far anthropomorphizing the voices, it's not like actual separate personalities, they're all me. It's more like perspective taking. I'm engaging in a conversation with myself and the different voices will take different stances. For example I might have a "lazy voice" that just wants to eat leftovers and a "craving voice" that wants to cook tacos. I decide what to do by having the voices hash it out.

As I'm describing this it all sounds very intentional and like I'm playing pretend, but it really is just automatic.


I guess I have something similar, but it's all just nonverbal feelings. I don't argue with myself about getting up in the morning, I just feel comfortable, lazy, frustrated, determined, and rarely tell myself "get up" but that's the only voice part.


Whoaaaa that's so interesting. I grew up silently praying in the daily as well, and also tend to have dialogues going on in my head. Also a stream of unsolicited advice, which is less pleasant... But I'd probably miss it if it went away.


Learning to get over religious shame and guilt took quite some time for me, and I still have to catch myself sometimes when an inner voice says things I no longer believe/agree with. Part of getting over that meant cultivating other voices. When one voice bites another bites back lol.

As a plus I'm very good in a debate.


like the devil and the angle on each shoulder type thing?


TIL. I'm one of the 5-10% as well!! I have not noticed a deficit in verbal memory... I'm more interested reading the comments and learning today that people have inner voices?!?


Yes! You've seen TV shows where people are thinking words in their heads or whatever...based on reality!


I think of cartoons - some people have word bubbles for ideas - some of us just have a lightbulb.


Basically if I know you well I hear your voice in my head argue for a pov I know you hold. If you are say a safety-first kinda guy I will hear you lecture me when I am not being safe. I got a committee arguing all the time and I admit it sometimes becomes hard to remember if I mentioned X to my mental version of someone or the real someone.

Yes I am aware that the voices I hear are not real. It is just the way my brain is presenting information to itself. Like writing down notes in different colored inks. It is all the same letters and words but with an added change.


You get to think in ways that other people can't. You actually have a super power. Don't sleep on that! You rock

lagomorphlecture , edited

"It helps, but I can still tell that I have a deficit compared to most people when it comes to those things."

I was totally gonna ask you about this until I got to the end! It seems like thinking without any kind of internal monologue would be incredibly abstract which might be good for some things but it would probably suck ass for trying to remember or understand extremely detailed instructions and things like that! I'm so curious what it's like to think the way you do and I wish I could flip a switch for a little bit to experience it because it's kind of hard to really imagine what I would be like.


It's strange because while we can use words to describe our thought processes, understanding how someone else thinks isn't really possible since we only have one frame of reference (our own minds) and words can only go so far in describing cognition. We can only observe differences in task performance and speculate as to the underlying causes on a cognitive level, maybe make some correlations here and there in the process. So weird!


I'm with you. Your movie reference really helped solidify it. I assumed I was one of the lonely minds, but this made it clear.

Some things that seem associated with this are my constant cravings for social interaction and intellectual conversation. I can't give it to myself. I have never understood how people can just do nothing. I never had an invisible friend as a kid. There are many things people say and do that could be explained by having personal voices. There are many struggles with communicating to others that have already had a conversation with themselves before I can share a full thought.


I drive my office mates crazy because the thoughts in my head just come out of my mouth, especially if I'm bored or nervous.


It’s a two-edged sword. Sometimes it can be really mean to you :(

Crack0n7uesday , edited

The FBI did a study and most serial killers don't have an inner monologue... You can add that to the TIL.


Now I am reading everything alout with my inner voice instead of just skipping over it. I've entered manual reading mode. Great. Thanks.


The guy in my head is my best friend and the biggest asshole ever.


Wait, do people have an actual vocalized inner monologue every time they think?


*Every* time?


Easy example; picture an item in your head. Now flip it.

No language necessary or really even applicable.

But to learn that some people *never* have an inner dialogue...? That sounds so weird.


Some people can’t picture an item in their head, or can barely do so and wouldn’t be able to flip it.


Yeah complete aphantasia is crazy.

The point is that no-one does that sort of thinking with language, as it's not really applicable.


I was really confused when you said picture an object then flip it. When people say picture something I always assumed that was a way to say think about the thing. I guess because I can think about things, obviously, but I can’t picture them. Their wouldn’t be a thing for me to flip if someone asked me to picture an object which left me wondering, wtf do you mean flip it.


Picture a teapot. Picture it turning over so you can see the other side. Sort of like that.


it's wack, shits even weirder when you dream.

My dreams often get retconned into the real world, unless my brain immediately determines them to be bullshit. Which is uh, unsettling.


i can imagine textures and tastes and stuff and geometry relatively complex but when i try to imagine colors all i get is a flat color diagram or an empty room with only one colour


oh my friend, you have made the most relevant mistake in the book, may i introduce you to aphantasics? People who are incapable of visualizing something in their mind.


It's hard to describe for me. Cuz I don't actually "see" anything I try to imagine. If I close my eyes and try to visualize say an image of a desk at a window all I see is darkness. The image exists, I can I guess I'd say "feel" it there and i could even draw it. But I can't "see" it. Like the part of me that's making the picture is drawing it on a live stream but the part of me that should be seeing the stream has the monitor off.

Same with the whole internal monologue thing. I don't "hear" the words in my head or "see" them written out in my imagination but I kinda just "feel" them there. It poses a problem when my mind really gets going because there will be often like half a dozen different distinct thoughts I can feel in there. So I end up having to talk to myself out loud in order to keep from losing whatever thread I'm trying to follow.


i like to separate it between visualizing something, and conceptualizing something, because if someone says a visualize a sphere, you know what a sphere is, you simply don't need to visualize it in order to conceptualize what it should look like, thus leading to a "pseudo image"

but if someone were to say visualize the tread pattern of an all weather tire, you probably wouldn't be able to do that very well, since you likely don't have a very solid conceptual understanding of what it looks like.


Yeah, those things are still almost entirely word-baaed for me. Low level aphantasia, I can't form a very clear picture in my head, but my inner monologue does a lot of lifting.


Apparently. I first learned about this last year when a co-worker told me to listen to my inner voice. I said, " oh yeah, like Sybil or Jiminy cricket?" I thought she was kidding. Then I thought she was crazy. Then 2/3 of my office said they hear it too. People who hear don't believe that other people don't, and vice versa. People are always trying to trick me into saying I hear something by asking me how I know the sound of my husband's voice or recognize a song, or get a song stuck in my head. When I have a song stuck in my head it's just the urge to sing it and there's no music. I can recognize actors by their voice sometimes, but I cannot do impressions or accents at all!


you can't recognize voices without an internal monologue? I see no reason that shouldn't be a thing people would even consider. Voices are like identifying unique patterns. They're incredibly easy, and we're trained to do it from birth. Similar thing for songs, although in that case i think it's more a sense of auditory "muscle memory" as the auditory experience illicits previously excited paths through the brain, leading to the same experience as last time, which allows you to define it independently.

Moghul , edited

I can't look at text without my inner voice reading it to me

I can come up with answers or solutions to problem without it, but it's there for a lot of stuff.


Sometimes yes, like right now. I can sense myself saying the words I want to type in my head. Its really like a voice talking to you but I can hear what the sentence will sound like if I read it out loud.


I feel like if I had an inner voice I'd get super annoyed at it.


Oh I assure you, you would. Try going to sleep with that mf'r just yapping.


Still have the thoughts keeping you awake, they're just not auditory.


Never thought about that, but that does sound more relaxing

lobotomo , edited

It's not. Especially if you suffer from anxiety or depression.

Imagine constantly having a (your) voice reminding you of all of the shit that stresses you out.


I meant more relaxing without a voice. I'm used to groaning and sighing myself to sleep.

Captain Aggravated

yeah I have to listen to space documentaries and such to keep my mind quiet so I can sleep. Astrum and SEA keep me sane.


You know what, I can't roll the R and neither can my inner voice and I hate it for that. I have a speech impairment in my freaking inner voice.

Hugh_Jeggs , edited

Mine refers to me in an annoying childhood nickname :(

Wot a cunt


It has its uses, helpful for remembering a short sequence of numbers for instance, or practicing a specific dialogue line that is going to be important, like for a job interview or something where you want a solid and confident delivery. But generally speaking I prefer it quiet, makes it infinitely easier to pay attention to my surroundings.

Meditation is basically the practice of learning how to turn it off at will. Can take awhile, it doesn't always seem to like being quiet. It also turns off other times though, like when you're suddenly startled for instance.


Can take awhile, it doesn’t always seem to like being quiet

Reminds me of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfYbgdo8e-8


Here is an alternative Piped link(s):


Piped is a privacy-respecting open-source alternative frontend to YouTube.

I'm open-source; check me out at GitHub.


This thumbnail makes me very uncomfortable


Oh, that's what meditation is supposed to be? Now I get why I never got it.


Yeah it confused me for so long

Instructor: "what I want you to do is stop thinking"

Me, internally: *okay, done*

Instructor: "I know that may be the hardest thing to ask, but I want you to quiet your mind"

Me, internally: *yep, already did it*

Instructor: "once you learn how to stop the constant parade of thoughts in your head and just listen to the world around you, you will find great peace"

Me, internally: *I do that all the time what*


Stopping the thoughts is distinct from stopping the voices.


Yes, neither one is difficult for me but I gather it is for people with a monologue.


I don't have words in my head but i still have thoughts that keep me awake. I've been practicing turning off my thoughts to sleep better. I focus hard on relaxing each body part for 3 breaths starting with a foot.


I recently learned that some people do hear a voice in their head. Some see pictures too.


So, if you study a map of a building, noticing that it has a kitchen at a certain place, then in go inside the building (without the map), and someone says "go to the kitchen," how do you know where the kitchen is? How do you imagine the paths, rooms, hallways to follow?

If I told you "a pink and brown dog," you can't "see" that dog in your mind at all?


The map would be tough. If someone showed me the map and said, go to the kitchen, I would try remember, turn left then right then its around to the left. I would remember it in words, not visually.

Brown and pink dog...in my mind I see a hazy face of a poodle with fluffy pink ears. I can't see the full dog. I can't walk around the image and explore it more. Its just a hazy partial visual that flashes in my mind for a moment.


Not op, but I have a very weak ability to visualise. The data is more abstracted. A map is a set of spacial connections that define an area. My brain has learnt to pull that from a map. What I can't do is recall the map to figure out additional information. If my brain didn't think it was relevant when I looked at it, the information is likely gone.

There are definitely pros and cons to it. I'm not limited to what I could visualise, when thinking. This lets me dig deeper into more complex ideas and patterns. It also makes other tasks a lot harder. I struggle a lot with faces and appearances.

As for the dogs, I have an abstracted "model" in my mind. The size and breed of the dogs is undefined. There are 2 dog entities in my mind. 1 brown, which is quite generic, the other has pink attached to it, that cross links it with poodles etc.

I can personally push it to a visualisation, but it takes significant mental effort, and the results are unstable.


So you basically visualize maps as graphs? You’re the human equivalent of the A* algorithm!


It's spacially based. It makes more sense in 3D. It's just as compatible with echolocation as visual data. (The soundscape of a room tells you a LOT about your surroundings). I believe it's based within my visual system, just stripped of the superfluous visualisations. Interestingly, I can actually map mathematics into the same structures.

I'm doing a piss poor job of explaining it. Language lacks the nuance to describe it well, and I lack the skill to bend it into shape.


next question: how many times would you have to walk a new space (like a house) to remember it?

Buelldozer , edited

I'm not the OP either but my brain seems to work the same way that yours and theirs do. I'd say you did a good job of describing how it works for people like us.

One difference though is that you don't seem to have the visual recall that I do. I don't have a "photographic" memory but I could probably recall the hypothetical map as a visual object and examine it for additional information that I didn't notice the first time.

I can personally push it to a visualisation, but it takes significant mental effort, and the results are unstable.

You may actually be better at this than I am. Describing my results as "unstable" would charitable. I also don't get dog breeds, just amorphous and blurry blobs with rorsarch like colors slapped on them.


I also don't get dog breeds, just amorphous and blurry blobs with rorsarch like colors slapped on them.

That's akin to what I get. The core structure is there, but it's almost a sense of what should be there. It's akin to seeing things out of the corner of your eye, while overtired. Your brain tells you what it is, and you accept it, it doesn't necessarily match what you are actually 'seeing'.

I 'know' how dogs move, I 'know' their body structure. I can force that down to a single image, but it wants to be so much more. All the senses of 'dogness' compressed into a single entity.

realitista [OP]

I definitely have both. I can even visualize things with my eyes open. I switch back and forth between modes depending on the content I'm working on in my head.


Same. I thought it was that way for everyone. I can have a full conversation in my head while visually building something in a 3D mental image.


I can even visualize things with my eyes open.

Are you able to build complex visualizations while maintaining eye contact with someone? Once the concept becomes complex enough, I have to break eye contact with them (usually staring at nothing above their heads) and unfocus my eyes. Once I do that, the sky's the limit on how complex the mental visual can get and be abstracted, but something about staring at a face (reading realtime facial reactions?) consumes the part of my brain I need for the very complex visuals.

realitista [OP]

That sounds pretty similar to me. I have to really be focusing to do it, if I were looking at someone and trying to do it, there would be a lot of competing sensory information. I could do something but it would keep getting broken up by distraction. It definitely works best just in a nice quiet room.


So kind of like Werner Herzog then, who once stated that he never, ever dreams. But he keeps having visions with his eyes wide open, in broad daylight, all the time. He describes them in his terrific book "Of Walking in Ice."

realitista [OP]

His thing sounds different. I do dream (often prolifically), and when I visualize with my eyes open it tends to be something I'm trying to visualize such as a new paint color, furniture placement. I'm pretty good at it, my visions usually work out pretty well when taken to action. I'm imagining them more than really seeing them, but I'm able to do it well enough to accomplish the tasks I need to visualize.


I'm so bad at furniture arranging and color matching. But I'm excellent at stacking boxes or other items in a small space.


So, if you study a map of a building, noticing that it has a kitchen at a certain place, then in go inside the building (without the map), and someone says "go to the kitchen," how do you *know* where the kitchen is? How do you imagine the paths, rooms, hallways to follow?

I know this isn’t true of everybody with alphantasia, but what I do in this situation is I get lost. I can’t visualize walking through the space while I study the map, and I can’t bring the map to mind when I'm actually there. Some people with aphantasia have no trouble finding their way around, so I think in my case it must be that I’m missing some innate sense of direction as well that visualization might have helped me to compensate for, if only I could.

If I told you "a pink and brown dog," you can't "see" that dog in your mind at all?

Correct. I’m not 100% on the aphantasia spectrum, so if I think about it then I might get the briefest flash of some dog, like an afterimage at best, and I can’t hold it in my mind, or manipulate it, or see any details or color. It’s not even really a complete outline or anything either that flashes for that quarter-second.

When I read a book, I don’t know what the characters or places look like. But I have always been able to draw really well. So it’s really a mystery how this all works.


For me it's even weirder than that. Those pictures exist in my mind and I can "feel" them there but the conscious part of me that's supposed to see them can't see shit. I can describe to you the things that are in them or even draw them out as they exist in my mind, but I can't see them. The part of me that's giving directions? It can "see" the map of the building and my position in it just fine like it's staring straight at a live minimap, but the conscious part of me that should be able to visualize that stuff? Nothing. I close my eyes and try to visualize that dog and I see nothing but black. But I can feel the presence of the image that the part of me that does the mental conjuring of images is making.

It's like turning the monitor off on a computer. Everything is still running even though you can't see it.


Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!


There's a kitchen off the hallway just past the bathroom on the left. No magic path to follow. I hate those video games where you just wander around! I can't see a dog - i don't know what kind of dog, size/shape of its parts, what parts are brown, what parts are pink, ... If you said poodle or German shepherd, and i focused hard i could get sort of a loose wire frame outline.


If I told you "a pink and brown dog," you can't "see" that dog in your mind at all?

Jim Pickens's cat popped into my head. Sigh.


for me some reason a pitbull


For the longest time I assumed it was just a literary device, not an actual thing anyone really does.

laughterlaughter , edited

So, if I tell you "I'll give you $10,000 for you to spend in 24 hours. Spend 20 seconds to think about it," what goes through your head? Don't you hear anything like "shit, that's a lot of money?! Where to start, where to start..."?

Don't you "have words" in your head to form thoughts?


No words here at all. I generally don't use words for thinking unless I'm trying to think of a sentence or something like that.


I wish we could swap brains for five minutes. But what is "thinking" for you? Can you picture things in your mind? Moving objects? Suppose that you're looking for a spoon and open your silverware drawer, and it's unexpectedly filled with cotton candy. And you live alone! What goes through your head?! Because the first thing that goes through my head is surprise, followed by the phrase "what the fuck?!?!?!?!"


I also can't picture anything in my mind either. It's like a different language that is based on feelings instead of words. You know when you move next to a fire and you feel hot? You don't need any words to feel hot, right? It's kinda like that. I would open the drawer and feel a "this isn't right" feeling.


Babies can think before they can talk 🤷‍♂️


But they can understand you before they can talk too.

laughterlaughter , edited

We don't disagree with this one, but I don't see how this is relevant. I wish I could ask a baby this question, but they can't answer, can they? So I'm asking OP instead.


Ah sorry, I think I misread your previous comment as if you were saying you had to have words to think, maybe implying other people were not correct when they said they didn't have words? And I was trying to say it was possible, but I see you weren't actually trying to argue that now, so nvm!

I also don't think I'm a words person. Sometimes I'll talk out loud to myself while I'm doing something, and I definitely CAN think my thoughts as words in my head, but yeah usually I just do stuff without it. I mean to some degree everyone does things without brain words, right? If you're getting ready for bed, so you think "now I need to stand up, now I move my left foot, now my right, now I move my right arm to pick up the toothbrush". Like, you have to take some actions without narrating them, right? We're just like that, but more so 😄



Don’t hear anything like “shit, that’s a lot of money?! Where to start, where to start…”

No and it's amazing to me that you'd even be able to think of it in 20 seconds with all that chatter in your brain.

As I was reading your comment I could sort of hear parts of that, because it's you "speaking" to me, but as soon as I saw it the $10,000 imediately became a sort of conceptual bundle located in front of me, the 24h was like a moving spatial cycle thing and my brain was plotting possibilities based on how far I would have to travel (the ones falling inside the cycle are the do-able ones) and locating a whole lot of stuff branching out from my computer with short action times.

Also my brain had immediately reached to the right hand middle distance which is where it "keeps" investment advice. It had a quick dart to the far away centre-left and I had a flash/photorealistic image of home furnishings out there but rejected instantly as the tangled sense of moving parts between me and it meant the process toward them is complex and would take up too much of the 20 second processing time to even see if they would fit in the 24h cycle.


@southsamurai did the above comment make sense?

It's hard because we have to translate it to get it across -for me it feels a bit like being asked how do you know where your arms are relative to your body.

MeThisGuy , edited

about the arms. spacial awareness.. and a surprising number of ppl don't have that

laughterlaughter , edited

Fantastic! Thank you for answering, and I have a similar process going on in my brain as well - but it's combined with "me talking" as well. For example, if I become aware of that "right hand side" investment section you described, I'd probably say' "ooh investing, maybe?"

livus , edited

Thanks, that makes sense! But I don't understand how that could fit in temporally? Like, wouldn't you have already got halfway through the possible investment overview while you were still talking? Or is it more that you're doing both at once?


It's like I "know" all the options (pros and cons and obstacles and things to think about) all at once, any time I have is then spent on the emotional consequences of them. But more time doesn't usually mean discovering more options.


So like… how do you think through ideas? Philosophize? You don’t bounce ideas around in your head and deeply weigh multiple options? It’s just… empty?


Just chunks of thoughts not in words or pictures.


Personally, when I'm working through a problem, I'll usually force it into words (either out loud or to myself), but that's a conscious action rather than a subconscious response. I choose to speak those things, and it's *me* (not an amorphous voice) who speaks them.

But often after forcing the thoughts into words I'll hit upon an interesting thread, and my mind will leap ahead faster than spoken language can catch up. It's only when I hit a roadblock that I slow things down into language-speed.


Not op, but I'm curious if anyone will help me understand my own reality. I immediately close my eyes to make the experience authentic.

"I have to spend 10 grand in 24 hours" as a imaginary verbal statement. (internal monologue?). Then I "lookup" spending money memories and create an object in my head without any attributes. I can tell it has emotional attachment from the memories, best described as a label. (I determine to go online shopping without much thought).

"most likely buy raw materials like gold". [Pause]. But what's unique about this situation that I can take advantage of? 24 hours [trail off]. Bonds would be easy and just postpone payment. Is laundering an option? Why is this person giving away 10k? What damage can it do?"

As the passenger, it feels like large derivitive stuff is silent. The inner dialogue is mostly probing. But here is a significant amount of silence betweens questions. I don't have a visual canvas.

Are others answering these questions? Frequently, I have a silent mind but pondering takes probing.

laughterlaughter , edited

Interesting! In my case, if I remember all of a sudden that I have to do laundry tomorrow, but there's a conflict, then I'll "speak" in my mind, with my own voice, saying "oh shit, tomorrow I have Bob's party and I haven't done laundry yet - all my clothes are dirty!!" Well, maybe with not that many words. Maybe more like "Oh shit, I forgot! How do I solve this...?"


It sort of sounds like yoi do it as a way of externalizing the questions, like it's a different part of your brain or your brain wants to make it clear to you that the question process is different from the answer process.

To me a question feels like knowing there's something behind my occipital bone and sensing it moving forward towards my eyes. So it's not verbalised but it's definitely a separate feeling.


Only 1-3% of people lack the ability to visualize images in their head.

Somewhat related, I recently realized I can't really remember the taste of food at all. I can remember the texture of the food, and whether I liked it or not, but not how it actually tastes. For example, I know I like chocolate but I have no desire to eat it most of the time because I can't remember anything about the taste except for the texture. But once I start eating chocolate and have the taste lingering in my mouth, I find myself craving more of it until the taste fades and I forget what it tasted like again.


Oh man! That is a perfect example! I have not able to understand the voice or the picture... Like you actually hear a voice or you see an image??.. But I totally understand the taste - almost like the shadow of a taste in your mouth for something that sounds good. I guess that's why what people say, "what do you have a taste for"?)


When I first learned that other people see and hear, I started asking around. From My polling, about 30% of people either don't hear or don't see. I've only found a handful of people who don't do either. I read some articles that say you can train the visual.


I have some very loud voices in my head. One is intentional, like when I read or write things out I hear my own voice in my head. At least one of them just talks shit to me all the time. It's not like schizophrenia "I hear voices", it's just a thought that I'm not actively having. When my depression gets bad it's gets really loud so I drown it out with music and books.

I can't see pictures in my head.

On another note, I'm pretty sure religious nutjobs really hear their own inner monologue and think it's a god talking to them. That's why their god always agrees with them.


The mind of an artist perhaps? I can see vivid film grade depictions of whatever I want in any style I can imagine.

Its quite frustrating when I know my hands could never produce what I see in my mind.

jordanlund , edited

How do they read silently to themselves? 🤔


It's like I just "know" the text. It's just in there with no intermediary.



AnUnusualRelic , edited

I was really surprised when I found out that people imagined voices when reading. Wouldn't they be sped up voices? People read faster than speech. It's so confusing...


I think the inner monologue is more there to "support" the processing of information rather than being filtered through it entirely.


How fo they read silently to themselves? 🤔

The same way as listening to someone speak. There's a thread of consciousness that takes in visual data and is translating the written word into a string of syntactical concepts that is then processed analytically.


For those of you lacking caffeine today:

Translated: Yo' brain be doing a figure out.


I wonder if it does the voices too


How do you read silently to yourself? Seems like it would be harder and more noisy if you have to hear the whole thing.


I mean, not really. It's just words in my head.


What I'm getting from this thread is that almost everyone thinks their own cognitive process is easier and less annoying.

Which makes sense, because thinking is one of those things where people naturally just do it the most efficient way for their own neural structures.


My inner monologue is an asshole that literally never shuts up unless I'm asleep. If I'm not actively thinking about something and conversing with him or keeping him otherwise distracted, he's singing a snippet of the last catchy song he heard, over and over, until a new one takes its place. Sometimes it's the same song for days on end.


That’s awesome. Mine just criticizes me over and over and over and over and over again. I’m working on our relationship.


Wow l, i didnt know this was a thing. I'm the visual version of this - which i already know sucks less.

I wonder whether you don't get songs stuck in your head... like as a consolation prize at least?


I'm almost the opposite. I can recall a song I know and "listen" to it in my head. However my dreams tend to be like comics. A static image with accompanying sounds or, on a couple of occasions, my dream was like listening to an audio book... This was before audio books were a thing.


I get songs stuck in my head almost every day! Drives me crazy and keeps me awake. There's no music, just the urge to say/sing the words

danekrae , edited

"Weirdos. I don't have an inner voice", most people thought, using their inner voice.


Some inner voice talking to me all time sounds fucking awful haha

realitista [OP]

If it's a different person than you, then you have a different issue ;-).


Eh, it isn't all the time for most people, and it isn't hard to shut down for most people either.

The key is that it isn't a separate entity, it's just your own mind using words to ideate. Like, you can see the sky and just enjoy the blue, or you can think about the blue in words, if you have that inner voice. People without that voice still have a way of processing and thinking, it just isn't in words, it's more abstract.

The few people I've met that don't think in words *do* seem to have difficulty in expressing the experience to others though.


As someone with an inner voice, I can't even imagine how I'd think about abstract concepts without words. Like, how does "I love freedom" or "I wish all people could be free" happen without words? Maybe this is a learning disability of mine, and explains why interpretive dance doesn't make any sense to me.


Yeah I can't imagine functioning without an inner voice. Mines constant. I can't really make any decisions without internal debate and I have to sorta constantly keep track of things I need to this. after work im going to do x this weekend I need to get y and z done. W needs to get done before the end of the month.


I'm the same. My mind is always churning. I'm getting evaluated for ADHD next week.

MeThisGuy , edited

which I always found weird about the brain. usually when diagnosed they give you some form of amphetamines to slow your brain down


Mines constant. I can’t really make any decisions without internal debate and I have to sorta constantly keep track of things I need to this.

A new perspective from this article on the topic I haven't heard before is that what you're describing may not be the "inner voice" being referred to.

after work im going to do x this weekend I need to get y and z done. W needs to get done before the end of the month.

I'm going to assume your native language is English (forgive me, replace with your own native language). When you're having this internal debate, are your points and counterpoints in actual English language with a sentence structure noun+verb+adjective? This is what I'm reading in the article they say "inner voice" is.

  • "I really need to do laundry this weekend or I won't have any clean socks on Monday"
  • "I'm going to play football with my friends. I'm excited to work on my kicking form again."
  • "Have I paid the electric bill? What day does that arrive? How much money do I have in my account?"

Or instead is it *abstract concepts* stacked on top and next to each other for comparison?

  • concept of obligation
  • playing out a scenario of the future where you wake up on Monday, open your sock drawer and find it empty
  • forecasting a sense of satisfaction from the completed task
  • calculation of consequences of not doing the task (again)
  • a slight self imposed discomfort to motivate you to complete the things to become comfortable again

According to my read of the article, the first would be the "inner voice", the second would NOT be. I have the second, not the first. How about you?


no its totally words and sentences. I can't honestly don't know what my thoughts are outside of that except for visualizing things and like subconsicous things like hunches. Not sure if its related but im one of those people who if I say something its also whats going through my head and actually if im alone enough I just start verbalizing the internal dialogue. Like when I walk the dog I will talk with her. hmmm weather said no rain but those clouds look like they could rain so maybe I should have brought my rain hat but oh well we should finish up soon enough I don't think we will go far on this one want to be able to get home quick if I need to.........


I still think of all the things i need to do, it just sorta comes in chunks, not words or auditory.


things like this I can't even imagine thinking about without words. Maybe there are non word things in them but my internal monologue drowns them out.


I didn't think this "not using inner voice" thing applied to me, but the way I read the article maybe it does. If the inner voice is truly a voice using grammatical spoken language it sounds crazy limiting.

As someone with an inner voice, I can’t even imagine how I’d think about abstract concepts without words. Like, how does “I love freedom” or “I wish all people could be free” happen without words?

None of this is in words when I'm thinking about it. I'm putting words here to describe the concepts , thoughts and feelings, of each step but none of it is words when I'm thinking it.


  • limitless choice
  • peace and comfort
  • patriotism (to the extreme, ironic terms freedom being used as a method of control)
  • anti-freedom = slavery or being controlled
  • personal experience with making free choices
  • historical learning about situations where they didn't have freedom
  • personal luck in being born in a (mostly) free country
  • imagining being born and living in a place without freedom
  • fictional examples of lack of freedom, like sci-fi dystopia
  • empathy about those that don't have the same things I do
  • sense of justice about equality
  • memory of muscles used to make my mouth and larynx say the word "freedom" FREEEEEE --- DUUMMM

All of the above only takes a second or two of actual elapsed time.

Words that come out:

"I love freedom. I wish all people could be free".


It's like an instinct. You get the meaning behind the words without the words needing to be there.


Image of someone running in a field, naked

(I don't know, I've got words in my head)


Interpretive dance is about expressing feelings without words. Mimes convey a ton of meaning without words. Both use motion and body language in ways that not everyone is familiar with, kind of like speaking a language. Other things people do physically, like shaking hands, bowing, and hand gestures have regional meanings like verbal language does.

Non-verbal communication can be hard, but then again speaking different verbal languages is a barrier too.


It's not "some voice" talking "to you", it really just feels like your thoughts are words, if they're "word adjacent thoughts".
Like, thinking about how to phrase that first part, it felt like I was reciting the words I was thinking of typing, not like someone else was saying them to me.


Ikr, it's wild. I don't think I could cope with something like that.


Mine never turns off the fucking radio


I wonder what causes this? Genetics, random, maybe issues during speech development as a child?


Probably a combination of environment *(nurture)* and simple evolution. The brain is a complex computer that handles a metric-fuck-ton of information. Some minor variation in how that information is processed or accessed is bound to develope, especially when the sample size is in the billions.


I don't think issues is a great word for something that doesn't have an obvious negative outcome.

I have an inner monologue that is something like an auditory version of my thoughts. Reminds me of a movie narrator explaining what people arre thinking, but not a verbal exchange like the article describes. It is absolutely zero help in remembering things because it switches to my current thoughts, and doesn't just run in the background. It doesn't seem to be a negative at all, and it is hearing hearing what I'm thinking but not rrally hearing because it doesn't sound like anyone in particular.

On the visual side, I can't picture something I haven't seen before and only have brief flashes of what I have seen before. Can't picture anything in my mind except the vaguest of stereotypical ideas, like a tropical island is a tiny island with a palm tree or a lagoon. Maybe the rough outline of a mountain peak. Can't draw anything like that from imagination, but can do a pretty solid sketch of something that I have a visual reference for. Also not really an issue, since most things don't require picturing them without seeing them, but it did derail my interest in art and I can't do any of the meditation exercises that involve picturing myself somewhere.

I assume any of these kinds of differences can be caused by a combination of genetics and environment since genes are expressed differently based on experience and environments can also impact people in ways that don't involve genes.


I think we will eventually find that it's connected to a lot of other areas. I was thinking of other senses. Someone mentioned taste - i can sort of taste things I've eaten before that sound good. I don't think feeling tactile things that aren't there is a thing, but maybe some people have that?

The lack of auditory thing doesn't bother me at all. Visual part does bother me. I'm terrible with faces - I introduce myself to people repeatedly and I get confused in shows with too many characters. I lost my mom last year and i can't see her face in my head. Everytime i see a photo of her it's a little bit surprising. Sometimes i stare at my husband - I'm afraid I'll lose my memory one day and won't recognize him. I lost my cat once and brought in another cat that looked similar. My cat was just hiding and freaked out!

Mr Fish

Honestly I'd kind of like that in some ways. Language is actually pretty limiting, so not being stuck with it for thinking would make some thoughts easier to convey to yourself.


I don't think it's limited like that. While I usually think in sentences, it also happens that I get ideas that I either can't express in words or it happens so fast that I don't bother trying to think it through in sentences.

Try to think of a house and notice how you don't need to describe it in any detail to instantly visualise how you think a house looks.

It'll be interesting to hear what they find in the ongoing research, but it's already clear that the brain is not just a large language model.


I can't see a house. If i have a specific description and try really hard i might get kind of a wire frame outline of something.

delirious_owl , edited

Sometimes I wish I could silence the voices inside my head..


God, same. One of my little annoyances in life is that my internal voice is a goddamn motor mouth and I literally CANNOT stop it.

I can stare at a white wall and watch paint dry, and my monologue will start philosophizing about watching paint dry, where the phrase came from, why I'm doing it (to try and silence my internal voice), then go on a wiki walk about how trying not to think about something makes you think about it more and the classic example of telling someone "don't think about a brown bear" makes them think about bears, then I'll start thinking about bears and my monologue is suddenly halfway across the world.

Put me in a sensory deprivation tank, and my internal voice starts ruminating about how Daredevil uses these to sleep, then goes off about fight sequences, and then superhero comics, and whoops I'm halfway across the world.

Even when I'm paying attention and listening, my inner voice is still motoring away, it's just that it's mirroring what is being said to me instead of going on its own wiki walk halfway across the world (though sometimes someone will say something that makes my internal voice go "wait a second, that makes me think of..." and then I stop listening while I go on a wiki walk).

I have ADHD, in case it isn't obvious yet.

DudeImMacGyver , edited

You can, but it takes work for some people. Various meditation can help, but require patience and diligence.

I've learned to turn it off and on mostly at will and frequently just play music in my mind when I want to listen but can't use headphones or a speaker.


As long as it's not a monologue like op is describing, you are fine.


Usually its a song. But sometimes its more than one song playing at once. And sometimes there's a narrator speaking over the music


I'd try meditation..


I wish mine would shut up every once in awhile...


With my aphantasia it's not that it's all quiet in there, unfortunately you still get the carousel of regrets/self criticism etc, but it's a carousel of emotions with no narrator if that makes sense


I think I'm picking up what you're putting down.


i have two and they argue and bitch at each other. silly but i legit can't stop them...


I have an internal monologue, but I don't need it to think and it's not constant.


I wonder if it's a spectrum. I am probably the same as you, but I am surprised when others mentioned about their inner monologue being constant-- many of which are negative-- and how to "turn it off" when it becomes too toxic. I have never really gotten negative inner monologues.

Nonetheless, the post made me think that this may explain why I am pretty forgetful. I don't speak to myself to remember something in inner monologue/first person.


I'm not really sure if I count as having an inner voice thinker or not. I definitely use an inner voice when composing verbal/written thoughts, and when I'm trying to remember something specific. However trying to pay attention to my inner thought process makes it seem like my thoughts are mostly non-verbal with occasional sporadic words thrown in? It feels like the more relaxed I am the fewer words there are.


I have a non-verbal inner voice which gives meta-commentary on my verbal inner voice. If I want to think about what I'm thinking, that's what is going on.


It's voices all the way down!


Oh, the non-verbal one prob does that thing where they look directly into the camera all disappointed & defeated.

Emmie , edited

I always thought only mentally ill people (schizophrenic) have inner voice(s) that is until I learned everyone else has so it’s me that I am not normal lol

I feel like it makes grammar harder tbh. I have to edit shit again and again if I want it to look good for you nerds.


When I read stuff, my inner dialog reads it back to me, you don't get that? Like in the movies when a someone is writing or reading a letter.

Emmie , edited

I see images when I read ,like in movies’ I see a theatre, someone reading a letter I see old man reading a letter on a xix century chair with a gray beard and cigarette and focused gaze, jumping from image to image like this and more unspecified ‚ideas’. When I solve a problem I usually use those kind of mind lego bricks to build something in mind and test it. It’s all imagination based.

I guess I may like books more than average person. I feel like if reading was accompanied by inner monologue it would be slower instead of just direct words to images so to say but at the same time I often lose details when reading or don’t remember them at all considering the action feels like a movie in the head

I have to read professional books or physics slightly different and often twice same thing but I guess that’s normal when the topic is more complex that it’s hard to form an image connected to the equations and get all these things in head properly connected to form understanding which for me means building some imaginary concept of it from the mind Lego bricks that is logical and won’t collapse. No idea if it is typical way of things or not.


I would guess it's normal for your imagination to draw what you read, but I guess people have different levels of imagination. I myself don't imagination stuff clearly, more of a haze. People who are naturally good at drawing, I would guess have strong imagination, where they can picture what they're drawing in clear details.

nickwitha_k (he/him)

When I read stuff, my inner dialog reads it back to me, you don't get that? Like in the movies when a someone is writing or reading a letter.

So, it's like you're reading twice? Like you're perceiving it with your eyes/occipital line and then your inner dialog verbalizes it for you? Or all in one shot?


All in oneshots - as I read or write, I hear it in my voice while doing it.

The Snark Urge

Sounds peaceful. Mine goes like mad sometimes, it's even woken me from sleep.


That's also not normal

The Snark Urge

No I know

efstajas , edited

How does this work? Like you sometimes can't control your inner voice, it just says things to you on its own accord?

The Snark Urge

For me it's like there's another me inside my head who just talks at random. I can usually control it, or maybe it controls me, or maybe it is me, or just a part of me. I think a lot of who I am as a person consists of the words bouncing around in my head and my relationship with them at any given time.


My understanding is that among other issues schizophrenics view their internal monologue as not being their own thoughts, but rather an external voice. Take that with a grain of salt though, because it's just something I vaguely remember reading on the Internet at some point.


When i need to think something through to myself i often start a recording app on my phone and literally talk it out. It helps narrow down the swirling and distracting thoughts, even if i never go back to the recording later. Is that adhd or a failing inner voice?

I never really understand what people are taking about when they say they have an inner monologue or don't. Sometimes i think in words, sometimes i think in swirls and images, sometimes i don't think...

realitista [OP]

I think if you think in words you have one. I also think in different modalities, not exclusively in words.


I am not sure about myself. I assume it is English, but now when i think about it my thoughts are much slower, and trip over them selves. It seems odd to consider thought in a means that is contrived for a much less efficient medium. So maybe i don’t think in a language at all and just attribute the meanings after the fact. I can visualize objects in my head though


yeh not everyone can visualize in their head. weirdly enough (or maybe not), I can taste in my head. like if you say tomato I can taste it. I should've been a chef maybe

realitista [OP]

Taste is an interesting one.

I can't say I can truly taste at will but I can remember the experience of tasting something well enough to be able to "visualize" what taste I am craving, sometimes by imagining different tastes one by one until I find the right one. I'm not really tasting them but sort of replaying the experience of tasting them which is enough for me to understand the taste.

But it's more like my brain describing it to me than actual taste. It's weird.


I can taste in my head but there's a limited range of what I can smell in my head.

Like, the smell of chocolate or wet dog or chanel no 5, no problem. The smell of my mother's house or a meadow on a sunny day, very vague and uncertain.


yes now that I think of it, smell is def harder. I can only really tell you if something smelled good, like a gf's sweater (prob pheromones) or bad, because those are easier to forget


I have both an inner voice and strong imagery. I cannot imagine any other way. I assume that people on the opposite end would see my mind as massive chaos though.


I have that, too, I think. And I see my mind as massive chaos.

I have several voices in my head and they *never shut the fuck up!* 😩


I can change what my inner monologue sounds like. It can go from Morgan Freeman to Pete Holmes' Batman trying to figure out his voice.


The worst is when you start to have conversations in your head in multiple voices. It gets crowded sometimes.


You should get a dog


And add to the voices? Nuh uh.

realitista [OP]

Ooh, I don't really do that. I just tried it and it kind of works, but I think I'm much better with impressions in my real voice. I'd have to practice more.


i still don't understand what the fuck an internal monologue is supposed to be.

I've heard it's the thing that makes you do things, i've heard it's a thing that just exists.

I don't know what it is, what it does, or what it seems to be for, and i don't even know whether i have one.

Science is a bitch sometimes.


It's basically just you talking to yourself but without actually speaking.


if that's how it's defined than i think i have some sort of weird hybrid of it. I have an internal monologue for certain things, like if im working on a project and need a design for it, that'll cause me problems. But if i'm just sitting down and thinking about something, i'm usually talking it out. For example i've been into sociology a bit recently, and i've found myself talking out loud about things very frequently.



What about like reading comments, do you inner monologue the comment?


kind of? I sort of follow along with what i'm typing but it's less of a written dialogue thing, and more of a phonetic rendition of it, if that makes sense.

It follows the pace of my brain absorbing the words, as well as writing them out, which can make reading a chore sometimes. When i'm reading a book, i'm often absorbed enough to be able to engage with it pretty tightly, and i can usually follow along a lot better, with a stronger inner monologue, it's weird.

Like typing this post out right now inside of my head sounds more like trying to speak the words per syllable as you write them down on a piece of paper, as opposed to reciting them, if that makes any sense.


Yes. It's like being on the phone with someone whois reading everything out loud to you.

realitista [OP]

I think if you'd have one, you'd know. There's zero confusion on my part whether it's there. It's definitely there talking to me any time I'm thinking of words.


i think the problem that i have, is that i have one, but only for certain activities, i don't seem to have one for thought/verbal tasks. But when im working on something i'm designing i often have one present most of the time.


for me, sometimes my internal monologue is like a very lazy audio book narrator who only reads the dialogue, and sometimes not even that. other times its like i have the whole cast of a radio drama in there, in the middle of the apex of the plot.

KillingTimeItself , edited

bruh, u got the whole main character arc going on up there.

lazylion_ca , edited

Its like being on the phone with yourself. Everything you read is spoken to you. When you see an accident about to hsppen, you hear 'That guy is about to eat it.' When you see an attractive person you hear 'Niiiiccceee!'.


Wow, sounds like absolute madness


huh, yeah for most of that stuff i just think outloud. It's the natural reaction for me.


for me it's literally just my own voice (and i can mimic other voices) and i sort of hear it overlaid on everything else, sorta like what happens when you hold a hand in front of only one eye, you see both things at once.

The only real difference from my physical voice is that there's none of that delay and friction from having to physically speak, so it's harder to prevent my inner monologue from saying stuff which is extremely annoying since i'm autistic and thus have echolalia, meaning i just reflexively repeat things i hear..

The idea that other people have some sort of independent inner voice, or even several ones, is rather terrifying to me.


Mine doesn't sound like anything but I can change the cadence or accent. Like it doesn't make the "noise" as hearing. Like it bypasses those "channels".


weird, i guess i'm lucky that mine is relatively situational then, because otherwise it'd be constantly blabbering lol.


It's my own voice in my head. Its difficult to determine on what level I control it. It doesn't "make" me do things, but it's not like I decide what it says before it speaks. I often wonder if it's the other half of my brain. I speak differently in person than I do inside my head, or type, for that matter.

Regardless whether it's a kind of supplemental personality inside my head, one thing I'm convinced of is that many people mistake their internal monologue for the Voice of God.

KillingTimeItself , edited

huh, that's weird, mine i have full control over. It's thoughts are quite literally my thoughts. And my thoughts are it's thoughts as well.

maybe i've developed an artificial internal monologue?


Oh, it's certainly my thoughts. I'm just saying I don't decide what to think before I think, you know? And I think in that voice, so I really can't identify anything prior. It's just me in here, but it's a funny way to think about consciousness.


yeah, in a way it's impossible to think about what you think, as you think about it, that's how train of thought works. The only time you ever have a whole spiel ready is if you've been practicing it regularly, and then it's no longer train of thought anymore.


I mean I can have an inner dialogue, but normally it goes straight onto the idea level of thinking and I don't waste resources trying to shape it into words. I can do that, though.


If you're needing to explain those ideas to other people then it's useful to expound


Yes, of course the translation occurs while communicating, and I'm pretty good at putting my thoughts into words when I need it.


I'm almost the exact opposite. I hear everything when I think. I don't picture 99.9% of my thoughts. I think in sounds. Not all thoughts are languages, but all thoughts are sounds. Even the very very few I have pictured. The thoughts in languages are numerous at a time and constant, as though forever lightning in bottle. I love it. It sounds kind of like the matrix looks.


are you capable of visualizing things? some time ago i learned that most people apparently can literally see things they picture in their head, which is something i'm only barely capable of doing if i close my eyes and relax.

Like i can summon the image of a basic shape and make it rotate at a consistent speed, that's it. But then when i'm extremely relaxed and almost about to fall asleep, or when i'm dreaming, i literally just see my imagination as if i'm looking at the real world.

However what i can do is "visualize" extremely well with the sense of proprioception (the thing that lets you know where your hands are in relation to the rest of your body), so i can rotate objects in my headspace and walk through physical spaces. I can't *see* anything in there, but i'm fully aware of the shape of things and i simply remember what colour things are.


The best I can describe it is almost always no, I hear spaces, objects, colors, etc. I can think on all my senses pretty easily except vision. I world make in 'sound' and awareness. I don't explain it well, and I do have pretty good spacial and situational awareness. I just don't think in vision.

A great 'reset button' for me is to be in a small room that is totally as dark as I can get it. Can't see my hand in front of my face after 45min dark. After a while in that space my mind will make up slashes of color. It feels like my brain running a test pattern for my eyes.


I think I have an inner voice, but that's clearly not a voice I hear at all, that's the speech part not resulting in mouthing anything. It's mostly true for foreign languages (like english) but less so for my native french.




maybe my brains broken but when I read stuff my "inner voice" is what I hear in my head. so do you guys not do that too? do the people without inner voices not hear anything when they read stuff?


You can read without using your inner voice if you practice. It supposedly lets you read a lot faster, though I have my doubts about how well you retain the information. One way to do it is to think "lalalala" while reading something!


TIL some people have an inner voice. What is for you folks, like imaginary sounds?


Do you remember the last time you were talking to someone for more than a couple minutes? Maybe they were explaining something to you, or telling you a story. You might try to remember what they said later - you can't hear it, but your brain kind of recreates the sensation of having been spoken to even though your ears aren't receiving those sounds.

That's what having an inner voice is like (to me, anyway) - it's remembering a conversation that you never actually had.


My inner voice is my voice as I hear it, and is more obviously there when I'm contemplative or reflective on ideas and concepts, but it doesn't seem to actively dictate or narrate most of my actions as I go through the day, except perhaps in anxiety or adrenaline peaking situations. It does seem more likely to flip to the forefront when there's an 'emergency' sort of moment to help stay calm and rational where others may panic. I do have some 'imagery' thoughts but only when I'm on more of an autopilot with an activity.

Interestingly, I can have very vivid and detailed dreams filled with unique imagery and events that can seem very real and my inner voice kicks on sometimes during dreams, and I recognize it as a dream. I have at times been able to influence the direction of a dream that my subconscious usually seems to be running. These dreams can be expansive, I'm talking deep backstory, knowing things and languages I do not know, knowing details about history or science or math that I do not know, and having a strange hyper awareness of existence around me that I do not have when awake. The only really 'scary' dreams I've had since I was a kid are ones where I can't find my kids, or where my dad is still alive and shows back up at home like he was just living somewhere else for a while (and it's not so much scary as just hyper-confusing and stressful). The dad dreams are also some of the best dreams to have that inner voice of awareness happen.


An asshole mostly, but that's another issue. Helps you think through problems because you think about it before doing it. When I read fiction I try to imagine other voices. I read a lot when I was younger.

realitista [OP]

It's just a voice inside your head that says what you're thinking. Like when I'm typing this out it says the words as I type them or as I think ahead as to what to type.

nickwitha_k (he/him)

What does it do when you're not actively thinking about text or conversation. Is it still verbal then?


Yeah it's constantly saying shit, a lot of the time its negative and I can't get it to shut the fuck up.

realitista [OP]

Mines pretty positive. I tell myself how awesome I am a lot when I accomplish something. But I *am* pretty full of myself. Usually when it's being snarky it's about annoying situations or people.


Huh interesting

realitista [OP] , edited

There are times that it is quiet. If I'm thinking about music or something visual then my inner voice isn't saying much. If I'm watching tv or listening to something it's quiet, unless I think of something I have to do, like "fuck I've gotta send that email". It's generally pretty quiet if I'm doing something like drawing, but I may make little comments to myself in my head like "oh I need some more stuff over here" or something like that. If I meditate, I can keep it mostly quiet.


I can do both, ask me anything.


Why, can't you ask yourself? 😁


Can your inner voice be quiet? I'm trying to have a conversation with mine!



redcalcium , edited

Those are probably the quick-thinker types. I wonder if people with inner voices take longer when making decision because they have to "listen" to the their inner voices.


A friend asked me the same thing, they have a back and forth of voices, at significant speed, and then they reach a decision. Whereas I just "know" all the pros and cons (to the best of my ability) all at once if that makes sense?


It's like chunks and patterns for me.


I don't know what it is I know, except that if I start flapping my gums the ol' blackbox will fill in the details. I kind of realise it as I'm saying it lol


I've got both pathways in my brain. Thinking without words is definitely faster. Verbal thought is better for communication and crystallisation of ideas. I.e. I think about something non-verbally, then internally verbalise the conclusions to help fix it in my memory and communicate it.


I don't think i'm a quick thinker guy, but my reflexes are shockingly good. Like i i sometimes knock something over while cooking and i just see it in the corner of my eyes and somehow catch it midair. But in this fraction of a second my inner monologue still goes: i just knocked something over, but what, oh right, i put the soda stream bottle on the counter because i just emptied the dishwasher. Oh no it's also probably the glass one, because i have three glass bottles and only one that is plastic, so this could bet really messy when it breaks, they are also kinda expensive.
And then i somehow hold it in my hand before i fully caught up. Kinda like when you snooze for 10 minutes but have like 2 hours worth of dreams.


I believe that means you're the kwizatz haderach


Stillgar: Lisan Al Gaib!


Definitely those Atreides genes.


Have to admit the number of people in here with full internal voices has made me realize why podcasts and long videos of youtubers talking are so popular.

I hate them because it's like spending 10 minutes to be drip fed 1 minute's worth of information.


I hate videos of talking and i don't understand why tiktok is popular. I can skim an article without watching 10 minutes of crap.


Exactly, it's like not being able to fast travel in a game.

I like tiktok for non talky stuff like those 10 second videos of a fox walking along or something.

I Cast Fist

I do wish I could shut up my inner voice a bit more often, especially when I go to sleep.


Meditating will help you.

cordlesslamp , edited

Try thinking some sentences (like a song lyrics or a conversation) while holding your lips and tongue completely still, I mean not moving them even a tiny bit.


Is this supposed to be difficult?


Well it's supposed to be impossible.


Easy, don't know what to tell you


Ya... I just sang most Hurt in my inner voice with our moving my lips or tongue. 🤷



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The world where chaotic inner mind is the norm.


My own inner monologue is a mix of movie and voice, I often see the real life/animated equivalent of what thought/idea is trending within my monologue. Years after a thought experiment on the concept of creating a Tulpa, that artificial inner presence still exists. It tends to influence the monologue direction for at least a few hours at a time; then it fades from my awareness for weeks or months at a time.

kn98 , edited

I’m convinced that a great part of the people that claim to not have an inner voice are either: 1. lying to come off as interesting 2. unaware of their inner voice 3. not understanding what ‘inner voice’ means. It’s not exactly like someone is talking to you, right? But it does come close.