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Thread: Your Thoughts

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    The Soul Happy-er JWC3's Avatar
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    Default Your Thoughts

    How do they work?

    I've come to the conclusion that there are sort of two ways that people think. I could be wrong and if you have one that I don't mention please speak up but from what I've gather from talking about this with some friends. People either think in words, which is what I do, or in pictures which is how a few of my friends work.

    Now these two aren't isolated everyone can do both to some extent and maybe you'd like to comment on that, but for me and the few people I've talked to it seems that one takes dominance over the other.

    I haven't considered thinking in sounds or colors but those could exist too I suppose. I'm not sure.

    What are your thoughts? (See what I did there?)
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    I feel like this is a bit abstract so any attempt at describing my thought-process will be equivalent to grasping smoke with bare hands. Or alternatively come off pretentious as hell.

    I think in words in that there's a constant verbal monologue in my head but maybe it's that way for everyone else, too. Often I have this... "feeling" that I understand something but I have no idea how to describe it in words, like I implicitly know what it means but I don't know how or even what it means. It's kind of like being ticklish in the nose but not being able to sneeze (if that makes sense). I don't know if I think in images, I often think in something like a 3D landscape (something something spatial synesthesia) but I don't know if I can qualify those as images; when I think of the word "image", I think physical objects, whereas whatever imagery I have in my mind is devoid of any physical detail. It's just very basic, elementary, almost mechanical connections, sort of these structural outlines, of and between things.

    That's not to say I don't visualize details at all, but when I do it's involuntary, kind of like a process independent of conscious intervention. If I try to focus on individual details, the shapes and forms start to distort, blur, and/or get muddled.

     
    I don't know if the following qualifies as thinking because it's largely involuntary but often when I'm reading non-fiction, I simultaneously have a repeated animation on loop inside my head, usually doing some sort of balancing act like trying to climb down stairs with water running down them (while wearing rollerskates and carrying several delicate items). And I keep doing this over and over, I don't even realize I'm doing it most of the time. Kassie brought up that maybe it helps me focus and that's probably it. I'm wondering if anyone else does this?
    Last edited by Radio; 05-09-2012 at 07:06 PM.

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    When thinking about concepts or terms then words, when thinking of people or things then movies or pictures. Usually that means the latter, since it's not often that I'm trying to actively learn stuff like philosophy or advanced theoretical physics or whatever. God even then if it's a process I'm learning I'll usually try to imagine a movie of it happening.

    Sometimes when songs are stuck in my head I'll picture the words if I've seen them written down somewhere other times like with Sara Bareilles's songs I just watch an internal version of her music videos. Eh, I'll think in words and sentences too sort of like a mental narrative. I don't know. It's complicated. Overall I'd say I'm a visual learner. I'm terrible at remembering/learning stuff I've only heard and not seen, even if it's written text.

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    are you using the word "thinking" to mean "consciousness"? Because if you ask me, the two are different. Thinking is almost always words, and consciousness includes things like smells and images and feelings that have no words. If you can turn off your brain, what do you have? Consciousness, awareness without that internal monologue (which can be so tiresome).
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    Perpetual Confusion Machine PistolShrimp's Avatar
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    I have a constant stream of thoughts running, the speed of its flow varying with what I'm doing at the time. Walking while listening to music speeds it up, for example, with one thought cascading into the next. I'd say I think in concepts and vague impressions, typically not specific words or images. Sometimes I'll grasp a specific thought from the stream and roll it over in my mind until it becomes clear, but most of the time I'm running mental chatter and tend to tune it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redbaron View Post
    are you using the word "thinking" to mean "consciousness"? Because if you ask me, the two are different. Thinking is almost always words, and consciousness includes things like smells and images and feelings that have no words. If you can turn off your brain, what do you have? Consciousness, awareness without that internal monologue (which can be so tiresome).
    thank you for this because I didn't know how to answer because I was trying to think how to describe consciousness. I figured people thought all the time since its not like you can turn your brain off but I'm usually just conscious lol.

    when I actively think its mostly in words. often in imaginary conversation with people I know, for some reason that helps me sort my thoughts better. pictures are more reserved for memories but sometimes there are things like shapes and lines and colors when I'm trying to get my head around something abstract.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JWC3 View Post
    I've come to the conclusion that there are sort of two ways that people think. I could be wrong and if you have one that I don't mention please speak up but from what I've gather from talking about this with some friends. People either think in words, which is what I do, or in pictures which is how a few of my friends work.
    I've heard that when you drink vodka with beer you can think in pictures but when you stop it is the other way around. Think about it, JWC3.

    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    often in imaginary conversation with people I know, for some reason that helps me sort my thoughts better.
    Exactly. Lots and lots of people do that, it is a therapeutic technique used in counseling and is normal.

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    Cat Lady aixelsyd's Avatar
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    I think in words where I will almost see the text that makes up the word in my head. Other times I will hear the words in my head. Many times I think in pictures, though, whether pictures that flash in my mind or clips of moving images that sometimes replay incessantly. I think in a lot of different ways and find my mind is hyper-active and is why I have trouble getting to sleep. And then I think where I imagine a person I know thinking and try to read into their own mind. I don't know how successful I am as I don't consider myself telepathic or anything like that, but some might say otherwise. =P

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    How I think people reach conclusions:

    Holographics' thoughts explode in every direction then land somewhere.
    Vortexes' thoughts teleport from start to finish.
    Cause-Effects' thoughts run in every direction until they find the right spot, then look back at the zigzag path they took.
    Algorithmics' thoughts take the train from point a to point b while they watch out the window.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JWC3 View Post
    How do they work?

    I've come to the conclusion that there are sort of two ways that people think. I could be wrong and if you have one that I don't mention please speak up but from what I've gather from talking about this with some friends. People either think in words, which is what I do, or in pictures which is how a few of my friends work.

    Now these two aren't isolated everyone can do both to some extent and maybe you'd like to comment on that, but for me and the few people I've talked to it seems that one takes dominance over the other.

    I haven't considered thinking in sounds or colors but those could exist too I suppose. I'm not sure.

    What are your thoughts? (See what I did there?)
    depends on what I'm thinking about.

    I can think in words, then I usually see the words written in front of my mind's eye. I do this when I don't have anything to do, and just try to pass the time somehow. I'll usually think of whatever I dealt with last time, or my goals in general.

    I can think visually when I try to put something together logically. Sometimes this really helps simplify complex things down into something simple. My visual thinking can be just shapes, lines, like someone else mentioned in this thread, or more complex than that. But basically it's some spatial-visual thingie.

    I may also think kind of visuo-spatially when trying to understand how abstract concepts are, or how they relate to each other. I try to see this stuff from different perspectives, though these images are not very well defined at all and sometimes it is not visual at all, more like totally non-coded, neither verbal, nor visual. I don't know what it's exactly but I know I still have some thinking process then as something comes out of it Often my logic is like that too, but it depends on the topic.

    I can again think non-coded when in the middle of action. I will just directly respond to the environment in those cases and my thinking doesn't go that deep then, and just stays the non-coded way, because that's fast when acting. (Note, when I'm trying to think about abstract concepts, this non-coded thing is not a fast process, so the coding itself doesn't determine this.)

    Maybe that's just some unconscious process.

    I will think in more concrete images when I recall autobiographical memories, these are heavily spatially oriented too, location information is very salient in them and I guess the rest just organizes around that with some concrete details, in static pictures. It's also concrete visual images when I try to imagine some story, but that's no longer static.

    Overall I'm not a very verbal person. I wouldn't say I'm totally visual either. Though the words I think of are always visually represented so that would make me more visual than verbal, perhaps. But a lot of my thinking is this spatial-abstract too.

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    Thoughts work due to some complicated brain process that one needs to spend many years studying. If you're asking what a person thinks about specifically, that depends on the genetics of the individual as well as their choices. One could think about swimming all day, or basketball, or video games, or they could think in their heads of an art portrait before they draw it. They could think about how to socially control a crowd, or make lots of money, or get away with stealing as much stuff as possible. Anything really. I'm glad that there is a physical reality that balances the power of a mind, otherwise we'd all be nothing more than broth in a narcissist's soup.

    It's also why people are hard to trust and get to know and why the world is abound with conflict. We never really know what is up a person's sleeve. It's a balance you know. The criminal is planning in their heads how they are going to get away with it, while the detective is searching for physical tangible proof that leads the criminal to be punished. Thoughts are very interesting but they don't really seem to have as much energy behind them as feelings and relationships. Ie as smart and personally powerful I get, nothing beats a close, loyal friend.

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    Jung said thoughts work so thats where they come from, obviously.

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    Images and words work together, just like you can describe a scene out loud while you're looking at it. I store images, and can recall them, but I also store "sound clips" and can replay those, and an image of a place is recalled with the words that were spoken while in that place. Sometimes to remember something that was said/read I put myself back in the same place in my head, so for example if I was talking on the phone with someone and they said something, I recall where I was standing/sitting/walking, what I was looking at, and what other things I heard around me, etc. recreating the environment in my mind, and then the sound of what they said comes back to me also. The other way around also, where I remember what someone said, and with their words the entire environment it was said in comes back to me. I think in both words and pictures, but the words are not text like some people are describing, but instead it is spoken word - I think "out loud" in my head.

    Sometimes I let my thoughts go underground, and I find myself tracing patterns with my eyes over and over again (for instance, following the lines in a set of window shades back and forth, and up and down, or tracing the outline of a tree and all its leaves, just following the lines, while thoughts work in the background.) Sometimes I set my body into repetitive motion where it runs on autopilot (like running, walking or repetitive physical work) and that can drive a greater range of thoughts, like my body is an engine that drives my brain. Other times, when I've been pondering a difficult problem or issue, I find that I sleep a great deal more, and continue thinking while unconscious, sometimes even dreaming solutions. So, in that case, it's like my brain got my body and my conscious thoughts out of the way so that it could continue working without that interference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squark View Post
    Other times, when I've been pondering a difficult problem or issue, I find that I sleep a great deal more, and continue thinking while unconscious, sometimes even dreaming solutions. So, in that case, it's like my brain got my body and my conscious thoughts out of the way so that it could continue working without that interference.
    I OFTEN wake with the knowledge that I had been thinking in my sleep. I can never remember details, only that my brain was very busy.
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    I think almost purely visually. I get these rapid images of evolution, disassemby, synthesis, perspective rotation... Even with more focused thought, random associations will pop in and add to or re-direct the thought-stream. Or an aspect of the object will be expanded into a new context of thought. For instance, I'm thinking about planets, then the idea of a car tire pops into my head, then the tire is focused on, then the tire is zoomed in on until I can only see the curve of the tread, then the treads become urban structures and transportation lanes in a city-scape, then I zoom back out and it's a planet entirely covered by the city, then I consider the smooth continuum between nature and technology, then I wonder if nature is technology, etc. It usually happens too quickly to clearly understand the connections or why any particular object out of all possible objects came to mind.

    But just imagine that kind of thought process applied to everything, all the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchonAlarion View Post
    I think almost purely visually. I get these rapid images of evolution, disassemby, synthesis, perspective rotation... Even with more focused thought, random associations will pop in and add to or re-direct the thought-stream. Or an aspect of the object will be expanded into a new context of thought. For instance, I'm thinking about planets, then the idea of a car tire pops into my head, then the tire is focused on, then the tire is zoomed in on until I can only see the curve of the tread, then the treads become urban structures and transportation lanes in a city-scape, then I zoom back out and it's a planet entirely covered by the city, then I consider the smooth continuum between nature and technology, then I wonder if nature is technology, etc. It usually happens too quickly to clearly understand the connections or why any particular object out of all possible objects came to mind.

    But just imagine that kind of thought process applied to everything, all the time.
    Interesting. I only do this when I'm trying to fall asleep quickly. This kind of process of objects changing into each other puts me to sleep very fast.

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    I'm a visual thinker. This greatly helps when composing stories.
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    I have a very strict and defined categorizations. I often check dictionaries to be sure about the commonly accepted definitions. Sometimes I end up in interesting seemingly contradicting conclusions about the nature of things.Like that if everything is relative then relativity is absolute. I think this is .

    Also my realm of thoughts are Freudically wrapped around the concept of sex. I deal with phenomenoma by putting them in sexual metaphors. This is tightly entwined in my Taoist teachings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquagraph View Post
    I often check dictionaries to be sure about the commonly accepted definitions.
    I do this. Even when I'm relatively sure of myself but not quite. I double check.
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    Darn Socks Director Abbie's Avatar
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    Oh, yes. Everyone should check dictionaries often to avoid saying the wrong thing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Director Abbie View Post
    Oh, yes. Everyone should check dictionaries often to avoid saying the wrong thing!
    -E1
    Well usually it's more about the specific tone of a word that I'm checking. I mean, if the shade of meaning is too intense maybe or not exactly the feeling I'm looking for. I always check spellings if I'm unsure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radio View Post
    I feel like this is a bit abstract so any attempt at describing my thought-process will be equivalent to grasping smoke with bare hands. Or alternatively come off pretentious as hell.

    I think in words in that there's a constant verbal monologue in my head but maybe it's that way for everyone else, too. Often I have this... "feeling" that I understand something but I have no idea how to describe it in words, like I implicitly know what it means but I don't know how or even what it means. It's kind of like being ticklish in the nose but not being able to sneeze (if that makes sense). I don't know if I think in images, I often think in something like a 3D landscape (something something spatial synesthesia) but I don't know if I can qualify those as images; when I think of the word "image", I think physical objects, whereas whatever imagery I have in my mind is devoid of any physical detail. It's just very basic, elementary, almost mechanical connections, sort of these structural outlines, of and between things.

    That's not to say I don't visualize details at all, but when I do it's involuntary, kind of like a process independent of conscious intervention. If I try to focus on individual details, the shapes and forms start to distort, blur, and/or get muddled.
    ^This is me to a tee^

    I think in landscapes too. I find that when I stare off into space, my eyes will naturally change their position in order to accommodate for what overall scene it's taking in. This accounts for colors, shapes, patterns, brightness, etc, all sort of rolled into one consolidated entity. I can create discrete mental imagery, but I have to exert conscious effort to do it; it's not like images spontaneously emerge in my head all the time.

    Often times something I see will "strike" me as important, and I'll focus a lot of my attention to the nature of this importance. This generally makes manifest in a mental landscape defined by mood, nature, emotional context, purpose, and lots of other things. This also works in reverse, where I see a physical landscape and that will generate an entirely different, unique mood based on what makes up the landscape. Both are important to me, but ultimately the emotional context is what I focus on the most, with the landscape as a secondary enhancement to the more important "meaning." This process and its reverse are what generate the greatest inspiration for me, although sometimes I can get so paralyzed and sink into the feeling that I end up settling for self-gratification than productivity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JWC3 View Post
    I've come to the conclusion that there are sort of two ways that people think. I could be wrong and if you have one that I don't mention please speak up but from what I've gather from talking about this with some friends. People either think in words, which is what I do, or in pictures which is how a few of my friends work.
    and if the someone is born deaf, dumb, and blind, which does occur, how would they think?

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