View Poll Results: Do you think primarily in words?

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  • Yes, my thoughts take the form of stream-of-consciousness flow of words.

    9 39.13%
  • No, my thoughts rarely take the form of words.

    14 60.87%
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Thread: Do You Think In Words?

  1. #1
    Exits, pursued by a bear. Animal's Avatar
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    Default Do You Think In Words?

    Recently, I became aware of the fact that my thoughts rarely reach the level of verbalization. I think in preverbal "gestalts" that involve all the senses, thought primarily in terms of visual impressions and bodily sensations, mostly physical sensations in the chest and abdomen ("gut feelings"). This is particularly the case when I'm anxious. In terms of conscious, active thinking, my logic proceeds on a very abstract level. It mostly stays just below the level of verbalization.

    I got into an argument with someone who insisted that I must be thinking in words, and that I was simply unconscious of it. But it's always made sense to me that thinking doesn't happen primarily in words. Think of it this way: if thought was formulated primarily at the level of language, how would we know what the next word should be? I believe we do think in "language", but that language isn't necessarily words. There is a level of cognition that precedes any linguistic expression. Language is simply a system of symbols or representations in the mind, of which verbalized language is only a shadow.

    At any rate, I've gotten curious about how people experience their thoughts. Do you think in words, in the "stream of consciousness" flow of words, phrases, and sentences? Or does your thinking remain primarily below the level of verbalization, or circumvent verbalization for other forms of expression? This may also have correlates with Socionics type, but I'm not sure.

    I ask because... it occurs to me that NOT allowing my thoughts to become verbalized is perhaps causing me problems. In particular, it limits my ability to moderate my mind. This allows for the most ridiculous negative self-evaluations, anxiety-inducing imagery, and other forms of intangible, but psychologically harmful thought processes, to get out of hand, unquestioned. And this poisons my climate of mind with a generalized, vague weather pattern of generalized shittiness. Most forms of psychotherapy rely on the patient to be able to verbalize the content of their thoughts. Journaling, writing, self-insight, etc. are all depending on this ability. But I find that it's not something I do automatically, as other people report doing. It's something that I have to make a concerted effort to do. It's an extra step. And I'm considering whether it would be helpful to make taking that extra step into more of a habit for my own benefit.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

  2. #2
    Ti centric krieger's Avatar
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    i think for me the verbal processing is a finalization act upon stuff derived from a massive well of semi- and subconscious non-verbal rumination. tip of the proverbial iceberg if that cliche may be excused.

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    the flying pig Capitalist Pig's Avatar
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    i think in words, but some things sound better in my head ymmv

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    sometimes i give thought to starting to journal because i can think of a lot of ways it could be helpful, some of which touches on the things you listed in your post. and then i start to think about what i would write and i become overwhelmed facing the tangle of contradictory and emotional and intangible threads going through my head and trying to pin down where i would even begin. i'm not even sure how i think. some visuals, some words, some memory, some imagination, some vague conceptual mush.

    what you said about language being just symbols made a lot of sense to me and makes me think its probably not so typical to think primarily in words. like, people so often say, "i don't know how to put this into words." maybe thoughts that are formed out in words are just more obviously "thoughts," they're more likely to be perceived that way, whereas other thoughts are more likely to be seen as sort of a blank backdrop. because people are almost always thinking and it seems kind of crazy to have a voice jabbering away 24/7.

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    when you see the booty Galen's Avatar
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    I do a lot of my thinking or general brain-tinkering in words. A lot of my idle time is spent formulating ways to communicate things verbally, either to have a greater grasp on the subject myself or to prepare for explaining it to others. I totally get what you're saying about logic existing underneath the use of language, and I often find that my understanding of things precedes my ability to explain it. I also find that I don't really like not being able to explain something in words, even if it's just to myself, so I'll spend a good chunk of time pinning it down consciously.

    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    I ask because... it occurs to me that NOT allowing my thoughts to become verbalized is perhaps causing me problems. In particular, it limits my ability to moderate my mind. This allows for the most ridiculous negative self-evaluations, anxiety-inducing imagery, and other forms of intangible, but psychologically harmful thought processes, to get out of hand, unquestioned. And this poisons my climate of mind with a generalized, vague weather pattern of generalized shittiness. Most forms of psychotherapy rely on the patient to be able to verbalize the content of their thoughts. Journaling, writing, self-insight, etc. are all depending on this ability. But I find that it's not something I do automatically, as other people report doing. It's something that I have to make a concerted effort to do. It's an extra step. And I'm considering whether it would be helpful to make taking that extra step into more of a habit for my own benefit.
    IME, being able to verbalize whatever problems you have only works as a means of discovering what the problem really is, and it's merely one of several methods I'm sure the human brain can manufacture to meet such an end. For someone like me who's prone to overthinking problems until they're firmly rooted in the ground, any answer I come up with will never be an adequate substitute for acting on the problem and fixing it first hand; it's simply the way I know best of dealing with it. Plus as you mentioned before, at its core the brain functions without verbalization and can just as easily go off of gut feeling gestalts/impressions/impulses; but like before, feeling these negative impressions is not a means of fixing them. There has to be some action taken, and if your feeling sense is fine-tuned enough then simply spotting these impressions and images, understanding their nature on a core pre-lingual level, should be enough of a catalyst to stir activity for combating it.

     
    I wonder if this is head triad vs gut triad related?
    "And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." -Roald Dahl

    http://forum.socionix.com/
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    what is essential is invisible to the eye fox's Avatar
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    For me it's probably a mixture of both. Often I'l stare into space, and someone will ask me what I'm thinking about, and I won't be able to really respond because my thought was not verbalized. I'll think in pictures and segments and piece them together (kind of hard to explain). On another note, it's kind of fun to watch your thoughts flow from an outside perspective, viewing words and images coming in and out of focus.

    Though I don't think words are required for thoughts, I do happen to think that as humans we were able to develop and define a lot of our intelligence as a species from verbalization (same with other intelligent species such as dolphins). To understand what I'm talking about, just look at feral children.
    Quote Originally Posted by jxrtes View Post
    betas should be kept in zoos for children to stare and throw pop corn at.

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    I've spoken somewhat extensively on this before, but it is my belief that more or less all thinking in the deep, primal levels of unconsciousness is done through connections and images. It is based upon an intuitive understanding of reality. Language is an abstraction, a projection of these raw ideas into the higher logical order. In language, the personal depth of understanding is exchanged for the ability to communicate and collaborate with others in a way others will understand because they all use roughly the same words and definitions.

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    boom boom boom blackburry's Avatar
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    I think in words. a lot. most of the time in 1st person. sentences. try to reword sentences before i say them...

    sometimes when I'm really upset i'll try to imagine my life in 3rd person so i can try to be objective...it's almost impossible.

    Sometimes visual.

    Think of Ally McBeal... sometimes my mind will have visions of those types when I'm pissed/angry/amused.
    or memories. flashback. an imagine worst-case scenario scene might play out (but it'll be like a lightening fast dream, it'll usually be in first person pov).

    I don't listen to my gut very often. It's usually a nudge, a feeling of "don't do this..." but not in words, just in a knowing. But I think my gut is a scaredy cat and tells me "no" on everything so I stopped listening to it. Or I'm just a scaredy cat... and force myself to face every single frickin thing i'm scared of. which is counterproductive.

    My usual way of doing something I feel a strong urge not to is a)common sense...most people wouldn't do what i'm about to do. b)what's the worse that can happen? fuck it, try it again maybe it'll turn out differently or 3) and then usually do it anyways... and feel a sense of relief of "Well atleast I know" but also huge disappointment in myself of when am I going to grow the fuck up and learn not to do this..again.

    So now I try to rationalize a lot...but someone pointed out recently that anything can be rationalized into being a good choice. and so i've made a lot of bad choices but gave myself a lot of leeway because it sounded good to me. so. that leaves me going on my feelings which i can't imagine being that great
    of an idea because well.. my feelings change often. and usually change based on my rationalizing of an action or event.
    so Ive no idea what to do. I'm trying to learn from people around me but what works for them doesn't always work for me. so maybe I am falling back onto my gut.


    i also like to practice what im' going to say to someone outloud if it's important to me.. or a big topic.
    Last edited by blackburry; 12-05-2012 at 08:49 PM.

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    A dusty and dreadful charade. Scapegrace's Avatar
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    I always think in words. I didn't realize until recently that this wasn't the case for everyone. I can't even begin to imagine thinking any other way. I've tried.
    "[Scapegrace,] I don't know how anyone can stand such a sinister and mean individual as you." - Maritsa Darmandzhyan

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    ഗന᎕ᒹ ±ᗉᚔXᙂഗ woofwoofl's Avatar
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    I'll see imagery and hear all sorts of sounds in my mind and they'll tie together and make sense in some manner. Oftentimes, words will come next, not always though. It's hard to describe the images, right now there was just a green and black wave of atmosphere that ripped through everything, then this horrible cozy house with brown carpets and dim yellow lighting that reeks of dust and mold with a half-bald guy in a sweater vest stroking a cat with one of those smiles that hide sadness. Now everything went white and pastel blue and there's rectangles and shapes I recognize as words, but I can read nothing. Now a red and black hurricane with grey and brown dust flying everywhere, no debris larger than a grain of sand, all set to heavy metal music; loads of double bass and low guitars, no voices. It'll go on and on like this at times and focusing on it in this sharp detail is arghh

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    i mostly think about people when it comes to thinking seriously.i have like 50% F over T.it's not a lllooottt but it rreaallly makes a difference i guess rite.that's really negative though because shizz don't get done that way. then, there is a voice that just makes weird rythmical noices when i just perceive stuff because i have 33% P over J .It's not even 50% and it;s such a helll.i cant imagine how heavy P people muddle through lol
    unholy water sanguine addiction

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    Hot Message FDG's Avatar
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    Very rarely.

    When I'm thinking about life-events, concepts, work, relationship, my future, how to do something, etc. my conception is similar to yours - I have different amorphous bubbles which periodically intersect themselves where a conjuction in their significance lies.
    When, however, I am thinking about more..."immediate" things, such as for example when I am cycling and I am deciding which trajectory to take during a descent, or which road to take to get back home fastest, I think visually without any verbal interference - I simply have these 3-d models and "videos" of places which tend to direct me.

    Finally, when I do maths I do think in what I think of as "words". It's the hardest form of thinking, but also the one that gives me the most enthralling results, IMHO.
    Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit

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    I see dumb people. Okay, I have o read this tomorrow.

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    boom boom boom blackburry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scapegrace View Post
    I always think in words. I didn't realize until recently that this wasn't the case for everyone. I can't even begin to imagine thinking any other way. I've tried.
    same.

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    Korpsy Knievel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    I'm considering whether it would be helpful to make taking that extra step into more of a habit for my own benefit.
    Everything preceding this question provides its answer. Just like the last time you solicited 16chan's advice to ease existential twinges, you already know a salutary course of action. You just haven't bootstrapped yourself into taking it yet.

    BUT JUST TO MUDDY THE WATERS, HERE'S SOME ESOTERIC ASIAN SHIT BECAUSE I KNOW YOU FUCKING LOVE IT:

    “The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you've gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you've gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?”

    - Zhuangzi, Ascended Bro of True Awesomness

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    shut up and stare at the tree
    unholy water sanguine addiction

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    boom boom boom blackburry's Avatar
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    I love talking about topics like this though.
    I feel like I'm forever a sponge trying to soak up people's life lessons. I never feel like I know enough. I never will know enough I'm sure. Especially since I'm the type of person who has so far learned the hard way on all of life's big lessons when many people have warned me otherwise. ...and still do. I'm a pretty frustrating person. even to myself.

    I'm curious @k0rpsy. how do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    At any rate, I've gotten curious about how people experience their thoughts. Do you think in words, in the "stream of consciousness" flow of words, phrases, and sentences? Or does your thinking remain primarily below the level of verbalization, or circumvent verbalization for other forms of expression? This may also have correlates with Socionics type, but I'm not sure.
    First and foremost my thoughts make me laugh - it went so far I smile to myself when walking alone to some places. Consider the reaction of people around, hilarious. That happens when I didn't end one activity fully and it haunts me after, and there were times I would forget about other things/where I have been going due to that unfinished task. When I have a clear mind, it goes well, perfectly. And how I think is mostly exemplified in :I have to get this done and that, I didn't do that, somebody said something and it is wrong, how do you think x happens and what is the reason y agrees/disagrees" It's like I have that particular person in my head, but not always, it's sually some other third party that I prove that particular person is worng, and it all happens in my head. So, there is always a respondent.

    I'm after some alcohol, so clothe it as you want, I'm going to check in later, to check, if there is going to be anything to check at all. And kill people, and well, die them. I think it is one of the reasons I actually down myself in alcohol, it;s a relief at times, slows it down.

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    squirreltual's Avatar
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    I was speaking to an ILE about exactly this several weeks ago, but he seemed to have no idea what I was on about...

    When you talk about bodily sensations, for me it includes these physical sensations projected outwards spatially too. I still feel their motion, texture, weight, volume, etc. as if it is occurring inside. Like phantom limbs. If I want to problem solve I'll move these about. It feels similar to a lot of my synaesthetic responses. It's probably redundant to point out my preferred learning style is kinaesthetic.

    If I am very highly stressed then I do begin to think in words. There's a disconnect, so words appear to pop out.

    I don't feel like it has affected my ability to verbalize my thoughts at all, but of course I can capture their immediacy/completeness more easily by other means (sound, dance, tactile art, blah blah). By "immediacy" though I am now talking about qualia. And there lies the challenge much art is built upon. You cannot absolutely communicate your subjective experience to another. Ever.

    If you want to journal you don't have to use words. If you regularly document something in any other mode of creative expression it will still bear later analysis.
    Last edited by squirreltual; 12-05-2012 at 10:55 PM. Reason: i don't think in words

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    Oh shit and fuck, wrong thread, I thought this is the delta subforum. Ehh, those quadras.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squirreltual View Post
    I was speaking to an ILE about exactly this several weeks ago, but he seemed to have no idea what I was on about...

    When you talk about bodily sensations, for me it includes these physical sensations projected outwards spatially too. I still feel their motion, texture, weight, volume, etc. as if it is occurring inside. Like phantom limbs. If I want to problem solve I'll move these about. It feels similar to a lot of my synaesthetic responses. It's probably redundant to point out my preferred learning style is kinaesthetic.
    Like I said, wrong different other quadra, I don't even know the reason I responded in the first place. A bit of a misunderstanding it seems. Although I'm going to rpay in same fashion and "like" your post.

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    squirreltual's Avatar
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    Oh. I "liked" your post because I mistook it for a witticism about the disparity of quadra-related thought processes. I laughed anyway... My bad.

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    I think in densities and forms, colors and motion, and low-herz sounds that usually accompany the aforementioned motion, images of I've seen or read, and on a rare occasion tastes. Verbalizing all of this is rather straining. I always feel like it's the rate-limiting step since this process runs much faster than I can put it into words and explain it to others. Back in school I had a very lukewarm relationship with any classes where most of the work hinged on writing compositions.

    When I am falling asleep, in those few minutes spent between conscious and unconscious states, this mental imagery begins to dissipate and all I can sense in these brief instances are these formless matrices that hold no meaning but elicit simple positive or negative binary responses. This seems to be what's going on in the background of what I am consciously aware of when awake. Neither words nor consciousness can enter there.

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    Let's fly now Gilly's Avatar
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    Everything happens almost physically in my head. It's kind of like little blobs eating each other and pushing up against each other and jostling for priority. Sometimes they will blip up partial phrases but usually its just blobs fighting for control of my frontal lobe. Eventually one rises above the others, and it gets put into more coherent language.
    But, for a certainty, back then,
    We loved so many, yet hated so much,
    We hurt others and were hurt ourselves...

    Yet even then, we ran like the wind,
    Whilst our laughter echoed,
    Under cerulean skies...

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    I noticed that none of my own thinking has anything to do with words. Just the reprocess of communicative thinking, which I don't seem to care about which leads me to constantly reword things and add context for clarity.

    I think it's the same question as ability to express oneself. I just don't think about it much.

    I noticed this makes certain people think I change my mind when I just change how I word or explain something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squirreltual View Post
    Oh. I "liked" your post because I mistook it for a witticism about the disparity of quadra-related thought processes. I laughed anyway... My bad.
    It wasn't witticism, I meant it, although I didn't get what Animal was on about at first - I blame alcohol on my side of the pond. This the reason that comment surfaced. No squirrel, no cry. Socionics never has been easier.

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    Mermaid with Stellar views SyrupDeGem's Avatar
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    I do sometimes think in words, for example i fi am asked to think of a number or letter i will usually see it. But mostly i think in moving images, pictures ..no they usually change, not flat images. I do live in a fairytale land inside my head though, i have been talking about this just yesterday.. so there is lots of magic and colour and movement, other worldy and sci fi too.

    Now this is a story all about how, my type got changed, turned upside down. Just wait for a minute and watch chatbox right there, & I'll tell how Gem became the moderator with blue hair.

    In typology central friended and praised, on the picture thread was where she spent most her days. Chilling out, selfies, relaxing all cool, And all typing some people and getting them schooled.

    When a couple of girls who were up to no good, Started annoying her & her friends in the forumhood, She got in one little flame war & got pissed off & said 'I'm moving in with that exboyfriend in the forum with the socionics toffs.

    So Gem pulls up to the forum for a year without being a hater, And yells to typocentral 'Yo creeps! Smell Ya later', Became a mod in her kingdom she was finally there, To sit on her throne as the mod with blue hair.

    InvisibruJim

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    InvisibleJim's Avatar
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    When discussing people and ideas yes; thinking in images is a slightly surreal experience, but I learned to do it at university to work through fluid flow problems.

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    escaping anndelise's Avatar
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    I thought this was an interesting story of a man who grew up without language: http://neuroanthropology.net/2010/07...hout-language/
    IEE 649 sx/sp cp

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    I don't seem to think in complete sentences. I seem to get the general gist of stuff and there's no need for me to think it out. Then when I have to go out and interact with humans I struggle to articulate my thoughts because they are hardly ever detailed. I caught myself doing it the other day, not thinking in complete sentences or sometimes not even complete words and I tried to test myself to see if I could explain what I meant. I couldn't, so I made myself a sandwich and sulked.

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    I struggle with words, which is partly why I like internet forums because it gives me plenty of time to try to use them well (even if I don't most of the time).

    In one-on-one communication, some people tend to think I'm either slow or being secretive because I don't use them so readily.
    I think what usually happens is I read into what I think people mean, rather than just what their words could mean. And it can be hard to reconcile the two; I feel like choosing one over the other makes a person biased and partial in some way.

  34. #34
    Let's fly now Gilly's Avatar
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    Edit: nvm, google
    But, for a certainty, back then,
    We loved so many, yet hated so much,
    We hurt others and were hurt ourselves...

    Yet even then, we ran like the wind,
    Whilst our laughter echoed,
    Under cerulean skies...

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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyGolightly View Post
    Then when I have to go out and interact with humans I struggle to articulate my thoughts because they are hardly ever detailed.
    yeah i think this is part of why i'm shy and quiet. there's a long delay between thinking and making words out of it. i would guess people who think in words probably find it easier to speak quickly and be outgoing.

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    My thinkinz are predominantly visual, with auditory and tactile components as well. With regard to mental verbalization, that's mostly restricted to periods when I'm preparing an explanation of something, and collecting my thoughts for writing can require concerted effort.
    Last edited by Korpsy Knievel; 12-09-2012 at 02:56 AM. Reason: Phenomenal detail reduction: The sx giveth and the sp taketh away.

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    Hmm, korpsey, can you publish a book and lump those walls of text together for me to read later? I mean, I consider people as books and at times I read two sentences and it is enough, it's like I read it all.

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    Last edited by Kim; 12-10-2012 at 12:49 AM.

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    Anyhow, how the fuck did ye all produce such walls of text if you don't think in words, numbnuts? You be illogical?

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    But words don't lie, absurd.

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