“Tim, if you keep talking to yourself, people are gonna think you’re crazy!”

Ok, it has been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I sincerely apologize to anyone who has been waiting for me to upload something since last October. Unfortunately, I cannot promise that I will go back to posting articles on a regular basis after this, but I will do my best to post a bit more often than once every 9 or 10 months.

One reason why this post took so long for me to finish is because the subject I’m discussing here, intrapersonal communication, or talking to myself. Indeed, there is just so much for me to discuss regarding this particular issue that I don’t think I’ll be able to bring up everything in this article. I will do my best to cover as much as I can without making this an hour-long blog post, and hopefully it will be enough to give you an accurate understanding of why I regularly engage in intrapersonal communication.

To start off, for those who haven’t read my post “Tim, please, keep it to yourself,” (click here to read it), I like to express what’s on my mind with other people. A lot. I generally find it much more difficult than other people to keep my thoughts to myself and stay silent. Consequently, I frequently find myself openly discussing random topics with people as they pop up in my head. It can obviously get very irritating for other people, especially when I go off on a tangent and ramble endlessly about something that you really couldn’t care less about.

I believe that the main reason I speak my mind to others so often is because I simply have an exceptionally energetic, “noisy” brain. There is just so much going on in my head at once and it is near impossible for me to control all of it effectively. This means that a lot of my thoughts unavoidably pushed out through my mouth, even when I should probably keep my mouth shut – because there is only so much room in my head to contain my brain activity. Yeah, I know this is a bit perplexing to understand. As I said, this is a very complicated issue and I don’t think I could ever do it justice with words. So I’ll give you an illustration that hopefully clears things up a bit.

I personally like to think that human mind works a lot like an information processing center of sorts. In this processing center, our everyday thoughts are continuously being created, analyzed, and managed – each by a different department. The first department creates thoughts, and then forwards them to another department, which responsible for quickly reviewing them. After that department is finished examining the thoughts, they are then sent to a third department, which decides how to deal with these thoughts: either send them to the dump, send them to short-term memory, or let them be expressed through verbal communication. All of this occurs in our heads at a very rapid pace and hardly ever ceases as long as we’re awake.

In my view, this whole process usually runs relatively smoothly for most people: the thought-creating department generates thoughts at a constant, but steady pace; the analyzing department is able to examine these thoughts carefully before sending them off to the handling department; and the handling department is usually capable of deciding whether to send each thought to short-term memory, to the dump, or to the mouth.

For people like me, however, I like to imagine that it’s a bit of a different story. The primary issue is that the thought-generating department, for some reason, is producing WAY too many thoughts at once. As a result, the thought-analysis department is swamped with thoughts to review and hardly has any time to examine each one sufficiently before sending them off to the handling department. Meanwhile, the “workers” at the thought-handling department are constantly being overwhelmed with so many thoughts to manage at once. They are thus frequently hectic and unsure about what to do with each of them, especially with thoughts that are particularly “powerful” or “heavy”. Unfortunately, the short-term memory as well as the mind dump have limited amounts of space, and the workers don’t want to cause overflow or gridlock. Thus the thought-management department will sometimes have no choice but to let those thoughts be expressed through oral communication –even when it’s clear that it isn’t an appropriate time or setting to express them. It’s not their fault, they are simply given way too many thoughts to deal with and they are doing their best to keep things going as efficiently as possible.

So, did you get all that? I hope so, because it was the best illustration I could give to explain why my mouth works the way it does. The main idea I wish to convey here is that my mind produces so many thoughts at such a rapid pace that I simply cannot keep them all to myself without overwhelming my brain. I just have to allow some of them to be expressed, regardless of whether or not other people care to hear them.

This brings me to the actual focus of this particular blog entry: intrapersonal communication. First of all, I have mentioned numerous times in previous blog posts that I don’t have a very large social network. I certainly have friends, and I spend time with them as much as I can, but I’m not hanging out with other people as much as I’d like to. So if I have something to share, most of the time I’m the only person present to hear.

Secondly, it comes without saying that I’d always be interested in what I have to say. I mean, I am the same person who is thinking those thoughts and I obviously found them worthy of discussion in the first place. Therefore, I’m naturally the perfect audience for my own little rants and monologues, and sometimes I can even provide myself with a person to engage in “dialogue” with. Indeed, given how overactive and energetic my mind is, I can easily think from multiple points of view and come up with ways in which another person may respond to what I say. I have been able to engage in rather insightful conversations with myself about a bunch of things – ranging from the current state of the Republic Party to whether or not Green Day can be legitimately considered a punk band. This works slightly better than me ranting on and on about it to someone else who clearly doesn’t give a flying… fudge, doesn’t it?

With that said, there are at least three common subjects that I will usually talk to myself about:

  • Something that is relevant to the current situation or that just happened to me.
  • Something related to what I see or hear from a form of media or art (film, television, radio, book, website, video game, etc.)
  • A topic that simply popped in my head randomly and particularly interests me.

In each case, I will spend a couple of minutes either having a little “conversation” (or sometimes “debate”) with myself or going on some prolonged rant to communicate my feelings or thoughts. I basically act as if I am actually talking to other people or providing some sort of commentary to a small group of others.

A rather frequent example is when I’m driving somewhere, and I hear about something political on the radio or a political topic just pops into my head. For whatever reason, I will feel the need to articulate my own beliefs on the subject in a sort of brief speech, pretending that I’m speaking to a news reporter, political analyst, or well-known political commentator. Most of the time, I will do my best to make an appeal to a moderate, sort of “middle-of-the-road” approach to the issue in question; agreeing in part with both sides. I believe that I partially do this in order to clarify my political beliefs to myself, since I like to make sure that I’m always making fair, intelligent analyses of every subject.

In some cases, I will pretend that I am giving commentary for someone else – imaging that I am some popular actor, writer, musician, or scientist. This plays a lot into what I discussed a while back about “imaginary play” (click here to learn more). For instance, after watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I may pretend that I’m one of the cast members and provide some commentary for it. I will explain why the episode was written the way it was, what I liked most about the episode, and what it was like for me portraying my character. Of course, it’s pretty silly of me to act like I know what is going on in the heads of any of these people, but c’mon… it’s always fun to pretend!

I am not sure if it’s a common thing for people with Asperger Syndrome or Autism to regularly talk to themselves. I tried looking up scientific studies and articles online that may link Autism spectrum disorders with intrapersonal communication and I couldn’t find any concrete evidence that there is a connection. It is pretty likely that this issue doesn’t have much to do with Asperger Syndrome, and is simply another aspect of who I am.

I will say, however, that I don’t personally find anything really wrong with intrapersonal communication per se. Sure it was a little embarrassing for me to share this with you guys, but I’m not exactly hurting anyone when I talk to myself, including myself, am I? Hence, I don’t see any reason why I ought to stop doing it. I obviously don’t want to do it when I’m with other people, but if I’m alone and just minding my own business, I have no reason to be ashamed of talking to myself. So to those out there who, for similar reasons, like to engage in intrapersonal communication every once in a while: I say continue doing it if you feel like it. Don’t let anyone convince you that you’re “weird” or “crazy” for expressing your thoughts aloud to yourself!