Even though he is socially frowned upon, everyone speaks for themselves. We can do this while studying for exams, or when doing the dishes or walking around the living room, but we all talk without exception at some time of the day.
It is assumed that when we speak we are doing it to communicate with other people, therefore speaking for ourselves would not be considered a true act of communication because, in principle, we would only verbalize our thinking orally.
However, given that this is common practice, and despite prejudices, it is something mentally healthy people do too, it is inevitable to ask this question: What is the point of talking alone? Let’s see below.
What is the point of speaking alone? Understanding this psychological phenomenon
To a greater or lesser extent, everyone speaks to themselves. While many would be ashamed to say that they usually speak for themselves and others would say that only a “crazy” person can speak on their own, the truth is that everyone we turn our thoughts into words we speak to each other. There is nothing wrong with that, and in fact, science and recent discoveries seem to indicate that speaking for yourself is one of the best ways to improve our discursive ability, foster creativity and even help us. to think better.
While talking to yourself has been frowned upon throughout history, more advantages over this behavior have recently been revealed. While until recently speaking was seen only as a trait of immaturity, intellectual disability, mental disorder, or in the form of a Shakespearean soliloquy, today it is given a certain reputation for dialogue with oneself. even.
History of the utility of speaking only
The question of what is the use of talking alone hasn’t started to come up recently, although now is the time when you come to take better account of this behavior. Already in very ancient times, attempts were made to see and explain the close relationship between speaking aloud and thinking better..
Writers from classical antiquity, such as the great orator Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), once commented that a good way to prepare a speech or write a book is to speak alone, especially when we are left alone.
Going back to more recent times, one of the most interesting figures who mentioned the usefulness of talking to each other was the German Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) in his essay “Über die allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden “(On the Gradual Formation of Thoughts as One Speaks, 1805). In this text, he indicates that it is not thought that produces speech, but speech acts as a creative process that ends up generating thought.
In his essay, he describes his habit of using oral speech as a tool of thought and indicates that if one has difficulty discovering or imagining something by thinking silently, this obstacle can be overcome by the freedom to expression. Kleist commented that people started forming a thought in an abstract and vague way, but when we started talking about it, that thought took more shape and resulted in a brilliant idea. Ideas come as you speak.
To finish, it is not possible to talk about the history of this idea without mentioning Lev Vygotsky and his studies in the 1920s.. This Russian psychologist observed that children talk to themselves, say what they are doing and what they are going to do. “Over time, this dialogue with oneself ends up internalizing, becoming this mental voice. Which is the” silence “or” internal discourse. “Thought specific to adults.
Based on what Vygotsky and several of his successors observed, talking to oneself acquires a fundamental mental role in childhood. Children guide their behavior by reminding themselves aloud of what to do and do, which has led the Russian psychologist to view private speech as a crucial step in the child’s development. However, as it grows, internal speech takes over and it was interpreted that anyone who continued to talk to himself into adulthood was a problem.
Internal speech does not replace speech alone
How to speak out loud is traditionally considered to be typical for a child, for an adult it has been interpreted as a problem although it is not and is a very common practice. Internalization of speech is inherent in maturity, but it is not a behavior that replaces speech aloneBut it is a strategy which benefits certain aspects and which is more discreet than speaking out loud. Not saying everything we think is clear it can save us from more of a problem socially.
However, he also has his problems, problems that are solved by speaking alone. The main disadvantage of internal speech, that is, of thinking silently, is that we do it faster than with verbal speech. When we think that it is common not to think in complete sentences, we eat words or even think of a lot of ideas at the same time which, in the face of such mental disorder, overwhelms and frustrates us. Our thinking can become very disconnected, condensed and partial, even without suffering from a mental disorder.
However, when we speak for ourselves we say the complete sentences, the ideas come one after the other and we think better. We are more aware of our thoughts, consistently and meaningfully turning the ideas we have in our minds, which results in a development of metacognition and better reasoning. We think as we speak, with the rhythm and intonation of a conversation with another person, emphasizing the pragmatic and argumentative meaning of what is said.
It is thanks to all this that, in the event that we have remained empty on a subject or that we do not have a very clear idea, the fact of verbalizing allows us to see what is its weak point. and even encourages creativity. and the imagination, filling that mental void. Pre-existing ideas are retrieved, current ideas are supplemented and new, more complex and better formulated ones are created, Encourage the creation of new mental and linguistic connections between them.
Talk to a conversation simulator
Talking to each other also increases our ability to dialogue. While it is true that by speaking we are just not interacting with another person, the fact of talking to ourselves it helps us actively build the image of the person we want to talk to. This behavior activates our theory of mind, that is, it makes us think about the mental states of the other person, imagining how they will react to what we are going to say to them, to what she might not understand, or if she will ask us. a question.
It is true that we could do this through internal discourse, imagining a conversation with that person without uttering any oral words. However, as we mentioned earlier, thinking without speaking has the downside of eating up words and phrases, and some ideas can all come condensed and suddenly, making it very difficult to imagine a natural conversation. Also, when we talk to other people, we do it orally, and practicing speaking is a much more realistic simulation than doing it quietly.
Outraged, speak with the same motive for action. It is very common in movies and television series to see the scene of a person preparing what to say to another. He does this not only to prepare her for the conversation but also to motivate her and tell her right away what it means to her that, on the show, it’s usually a difficult message to hear. In real life, we use this resource both to motivate us to talk to another person and to dare to start a project or do something that scares us, saying second person sentences like “You can! “or” Wow, it’s not that hard. “
While many still believe that talking is only one thing for madmen and young children, the truth is this is another behavior that gives us a lot of cognitive and social benefits. By talking to ourselves, we can organize our thinking, transforming abstract and unclear ideas into bright and complete ideas, better thinking about saying things out loud than doing it silently. It is very difficult to organize a thought that comes to us in a partial and condensed way.
Although the fact that we are talking to each other cannot be considered an act of communication in itself, it can help us to make fun of having a conversation with someone to whom we want to say something complicated and not easy to understand. think during a spontaneous conversation. Also, if what we have to say is difficult to say and to listen to, talking to ourselves serves to motivate us to say it at the same time as we practice so that the blow is soft.
Whether we talk to each other often or not, it is clear that this practice it is not a sign of mental immaturity or synonymous with psychological disorder. Many people speak out loud when we study, do our homework, or just to remind us what to do. It helps us organize our thinking, which improves our reasoning and metacognition, benefits that complement those of internal speech. So talking to yourself is not crazy, but genius.
- Ariel, N. (2020). Talking to each other out loud is a technology to think about. Psyche. Retrieved from https://psyche.co/ideas/talking-out-loud-to-yourself-is-a-technology-for-thinking
- Maass, Joachim (1983). Kleist: a biography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Vygotsky, LS, Kozulin, A. and Abbey, PT (1995). Thought and language (pp. 97-115). Barcelona: Paidós.