As you read the first sentence of this article, do you happen to hear each word as you read the sentence? To some of the audience, it may be a silly question, of course not! However, the others who are still reading are now realizing not everyone has the ability to internally monologue. Internal monologuing is the ability to speak within your mind without needing to vocally speak. The natural purpose for engaging in an internal monologue is acquainted with a form of self-expression or reflection to formulate thoughts, problem-solving, rationalization, etc.
To better understand those that are not familiar with the experience of internally monologuing, consider a time when you read a single paragraph over and over and despite looking at the words, nothing processed. Now with that same scenario replace the lack of understanding with the passive understanding we possess as we encounter a stop sign. To those who do not possess the ability to internally monologue, imagine a person talking to themselves aloud and then remove any physical behavior while putting the conversation in the individual’s head.
For those without it, it is uncommon that you exist without ever having an encounter of internal monologuing, but not impossible. In an interview with Olivia Rivera, who does not possess an internal monologue, she states that those with minimal exposure to an internal monologue may not necessarily think before they speak and even as they mature, it “doesn’t get better.” She describes that those with one maintain something resembling a constant stream of thoughts as opposed to sporadic or random jot notes. She acknowledges that for her own personal situation, she has not improved her ability to have an internal monologue. Instead, she has improved other skills to compensate for it such as being able to “read the situation better subconsciously and knowing what to say.” This is expanded on with an interview with Kirsten Carlson, a PA student at Francis Marion University, where she states that when she reads, “Every sentence has a shape… key words will pop out… and at the end of reading something I can have a concept map of main topics I read about.”
In the past, the expression of internal monologues existed in Roman and Shakespearean theaters though secluded dialogue between the audience and an individual character that would express their inner emotions and thoughts. In more modern times it could be equated to the dimmed light scenes in anime where characters make deductions in order to provide insight to the audience. Here is an example of a protagonist going in and out of dialogue and internal monologues to express how he makes deductions of his security and the potential threats of who would be the antagonist. In other instances, internally monologuing is displayed through having full conversations with yourself involving past incidents while in the shower. Although some people are fully able to recall information from a prior instance dating years back and engage in a non-auditory conversation, those without an internal monologue are generally unable to recall such information. Instead, those without the ability to talk internally will speak orally about recent events that may have unfolded the same day. Regardless of how we express ourselves and internal information, possessing an internal monologue is not something any person needs to have and it is important to acknowledge how people process information differently.
CBCSaskatchewan, What it’s like living without an inner monologue, YouTube, March 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB7fstrbJSA
Coffee Donavyn, Does everyone have an inner monologue?, Live Science, June 2021, https://www.livescience.com/does-everyone-have-inner-monologue.htm
Everything to Know About Your Internal Monologue, healthline, July 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/internal-monologue
Langdon Ryan, Q&A with a person who does not have an internal monologue, YouTube, January 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u69YSh-cFXY
People With No Internal Monologue Explain What It’s Like in Their Head, IFLS, https://www.iflscience.com/brain/people-with-no-internal-monologue-explain-what-its-like-in-their-head/
Stewart Jessica, People Are Shocked To Discover That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue, My Modern Met, February 2020, https://mymodernmet.com/inner-monologue/