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TikToker Sparks Debate About Inner Monologues: Do You Hear an Actual Voice in Your Head?

Kelly Corbett - Author
By

Nov. 7 2022, Published 9:23 a.m. ET

Well, one TikTok creator just gave us a new question to ask at parties. Colleen Carswell (@colleencarswell), who runs the family travel website Carswell Enterprise, recently took to the platform to ask her followers a fascinating question about how their minds work. And as we quickly learned from Colleen's musings, some of us visualize and hear things very differently.

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TikToker asks users if they can visualize images in their minds and hear an inner monologue.

"So I recently learned that my husband of nearly 11 years thinks entirely differently than me," Colleen says into the camera as she films herself from the car.

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She kicks things off by explaining that she has aphantasia, which Very Well Mind defines as "a phenomenon in which people are unable to visualize imagery," such as a face or a scene.

The condition is extremely rare and is estimated to only affect one to three percent of the population.

Colleen notes for those who do not have aphantasia, and can visualize images in their mind, it operates on a spectrum where some folks can see faint images, while others can see very vividly. However, she personally cannot visualize anything in her mind.

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After posting about her aphantasia online, Colleen explained that she and some other folks had gotten into a conversation about another similar concept: the ability to hear an inner monologue internally.

Colleen explains that while she has thoughts that pop into her head, she can't actually hear a voice speaking. But as she learned from this discussion, other people can hear their own voices narrating inside their heads.

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"From what I'm gathering, people can hear in their mind," Colleen says, adding "hearing inside their head, hearing internally, hearing their own voice."

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That said, she asked her husband if he could hear an inner monologue in his head.

His response stunned her. "Oh yeah, I can hear. I can hear my mom's voice. I can hear your voice. I can hear the kids' voices. I can hear Kevin Hart's voice. Really any voice I want to hear, I can just hear it," he said.

Colleen continued to note that she was very confused. Previously, she believed that the thoughts she had inside her head counted as an inner monologue. But now that she has learned that people can actually hear their own voice in their heads, she's started to question over whether she's ever had an inner monologue.

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Furthermore, she deduced that some people like her husband are advanced and can hear their own voice, as well as other people's voices. Meanwhile, some people can only hear their own voice.

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Users started commenting where they stood on the issue and it appeared that everyone had a different answer. Some could visualize images in their head and hear voices. Others could do neither.

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One user explained that they could hear their mind argue in different voices. While another couldn't even fathom the idea.

For Colleen, her inability to see images in her head as well as hear voices, may go hand in hand. Per LiveScience, the lack of an inner monologue has been linked to aphantasia.

That said, the publication further notes that having aphantasia and/or not having an inner voice isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just may affect the way you learn new things.

So, as you read this article to yourself, did you hear it in your voice or a different voice? If I ask you to envision a Ferris wheel, would you be able to do it? The human mind is so fascinating!

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