Internal Monologues

By Renee

Ah yes, internal monologues, a familiar part of lower year narrative writing skills. We are taught that the internal monologue should ‘show’ the character’ feelings and thoughts. It should also be written in a more casual tone and include punctuation like ellipses to show the thoughts breaking off naturally. One thing has always bugged me. Do people actually think like that?  

Doing some research, it seems like the world is roughly split into two kinds of people, those who actually do think like the characters in stories and those that do not. It is also likely that you do not know the other type exists! People who think in full sentences say that they can “hear” a voice in their head, and not in a schizophrenic way. The other type, people who cannot form full sentences in their head, tend to think in a mindmap-like way, with few words or abstract ideas. Of course, this does not mean either way is advantageous, it is just different ways of processing information. In fact, a psychologist, Curtis Reisinger, Ph.D., said that some people have a mixture of both. Another possible way of thinking is picturing the object or activity, which most people can do. 

There was a tweet back in January 2020 that mentioned these ways of thought. As of now, there are 165 000 likes and 40 000 retweets. Many comments expressed shock at the fact that others do or do not think in sentences, depending on how they themselves think. Many also explained how thought worked for them. People who could not think in sentences said things like they do not actually know what they are thinking until they write it out or that if they wanted to ‘have a conversation with themselves’ they would have to say it out loud, both things that I have experienced as I am a “non-sentence thinker”. 

The infamous tweet that made people question reality. 

Personally, I almost never form complete or even partial sentences in my head. When I am thinking about something, like what I want to eat for dinner, it is more of a concept rather than “Oh, I think I should have fried rice.” Maybe a quick mental image will pop up, but I rarely even notice it. Occasionally I do say things out loud to myself, but I do not think of the sentences beforehand, it just naturally comes out. However, after some exposure to internal monologue from English modules, I have begun to forcefully think in sentences, though it is still very rare and only in situations where I feel uncomfortable, so it is a bit of a coping mechanism for me. 

Anyway, how do you think? Can you ‘hear’ sentences in your head, or do you have wordless concepts and ideas floating around? Or even something else entirely? 

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