Inner Voice- Not Everyone Has It

by Madonna Watts D'Souza
Inner Voice- Not Everyone Has It

December 15, 2020

Like it or not, some folks don't have to deal with constant inner voices throughout the day, according to a study.

Have you ever done something stupid and heard your brain go ‘you’re such a silly duck,’ or did something unique and heard yourself go ‘Bravo!’. Well, a lot of us experience a tiny or loud voice, depending on the situation, emitting from our inner selves.

It might happen when you read. Or even when you do something which compels you to speak to yourself; or even when you want to tell your maths teacher that the solution is wrong but can’t cause they’ll scream louder than your inner voice. Some people don’t have a tiny version of themselves that constantly chatters or bickers through their daily life.

This may seem unusual or terrifying to you, but why do some people have an inner voice, and some do not? It looks like science has found some answers to comfort us.

Not Everyone Has an Inner Voice

A study conducted by Psychologist Russell Hurlburt at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, revealed several people don’t have an ‘inner voice.’ He also discovered that most of our racing thoughts are not in the form of words but are rather more diverse than we think.

Hurlburt noted, “The object of my research is not to explore inner speech or inner monologue or whatever you want to name it, but to explore your experience as it is.” He added, “Most people think that they think in words, but many people are mistaken about that.”

With the help of his patented beepers, which went off at random times, volunteers were made to note what they internally experienced at that moment.

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Descriptive Experience Sampling

Intentionally the beepers only went off a few times, so that volunteers were unaware of it. After that, researchers asked the volunteers what they were experiencing internally when the beepers went off, were they having any visualizations, tactile (touch) sensations, emotions, or an inner voice. This is called Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES).

The first day the answers were vague and not promising. It was expected, according to Hurlburt. “Almost nobody recognizes on the first sampling day how careful I want to be about the moment,” he said.

However, not all were terrible as one group of people who seemed to evaluate their thoughts at the beep were predominantly used to tuning in to their ideas. This group of people is also adroit mediators. Eventually, as participants got comfortable with the DES, the researchers found answers. Some people weren’t too happy with the beepers and had vocalized their thoughts about it.

“People have accused me in a debasing way of talking of a magic beeper,” according to Hurlburt. “It’s not magic, but it does let you do something complicated to do on your own.”

Revelations of the Study

It was revealed that several people struggled to articulate what their thoughts were, and many couldn’t recall the specific words or sentences during it. Most of them were as clear as a blank slate. Hurlburt highlighted, “And in the course of doing that, you and I together, I guess you would say, we decide, ‘well, I thought I had inner speech, but I don’t.’

Overall, the average frequency of inner speaking was 26%, which covered the range of several percentages when people experienced an internal monologue. From 100%, people always had some inner monologue whenever the beeper went off to 0%, where people never had an inner voice. Though the accurate percentage is not known, a significant amount of people who never have an inner voice, if it’s you, then you’re not alone.

Tiny Neuro Signals: Source of the Inner Voice

But those who do have one, have you ever wondered from where does your inner voice come from? A sensory signal known as corollary discharge can distinguish between internal sensations and external sensations. This plays a vital role in inner speech. You can even get it when you’re stressed.

The corollary signals also play a significant role in internal speech. Additionally, it has a part in how our auditory systems understand and process our address. Believe it or not, but whenever we speak outwardly, an inner copy of how our voice sounds at that time is conjured simultaneously.

So if you love having those inner conversations or even singing to yourself or even if you don’t have a voice at all, you are as unique as everyone else. What is your inner voice telling you right now? Do you have a TOT episode?


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