In a resurfaced video, a woman with no inner monologue has explained how it affects her everyday life. Kirsten Carlson told YouTube channel PA Struggles about the surprisingly-common phenomenon of having no inner voice.
One of the main things the host, and other Internet users, wanted to know was how she thinks and knows she is thinking without that constant narrator.
"Because I can see it," she said in the YouTube video.
"I don't know I just feel like the information is in there and I can pull it forward if I want it," she added. "It's like, it's like files, there's categories of information in my head and I can pull them to the front if I need them."
Others have described thinking with no monologue as just feeling it.
"It’s like the inner dialogue is the middle man in my head, who just isn’t there," one Redditor said in 2020.
Since learning that inner monologues exist, she said that she had attempted to stand in front of a mirror and talk to herself in her head.
"I have tried to do that since learning that an internal monologue exists and I end up speaking out loud to myself so most of my conversations are out loud," she explained.
What does the science say?
In scientific studies, it seems most people experience more of a mix of monologue and other thinking patterns than Carlson does.
A small study in 2008 tried to get a better picture of how people think. They gave beepers to a random sample of students. When the beeper went off, they had to note down what was going on inside their heads moments before it went off. This went on for several weeks, to get them used to it and then to get an accurate picture of what was happening inside their minds.
"Subjects experienced themselves as inwardly talking to themselves in 26 percent of all samples," the team later wrote in Psychology Today. "But there were large individual differences: some subjects never experienced inner speech; other subjects experienced inner speech in as many as 75 percent of their samples. The median percentage across subjects was 20 percent.
"Some people talk to themselves a lot, some never, some occasionally."