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I Talk to Myself. Am I Mad?

Talking to one’s self is humorously associated with madness. Whilst it may be acceptable when you are on your own, the moment someone looks at you in surprise because of this, is indeed embarrassing. The snide comments such as “you are losing it” are indeed expected to follow. With that said, many people speak to themselves and whilst some may classify this behaviour as unhealthy, others argue that it may be healthy.

Let’s start off by stating that everyone talks to himself silently, but regularly. This does not solely refer to the mundane and non-priority comments such as “what time did I wake up this morning?”. We mean deep and internal conversations with ourselves, which we respond to by our own thoughts. This inner discussion does have its benefits and is important for the mind. The reason for this is because it allows one to organise his thoughts, plan actions, process memories and emotions. In a nutshell, it allows one to control himself and his actions. When talking to yourself out loud, you are simply extending this inner talk to a vocal level.

In certain cases, the talking to one’s self may be irrelevant to the task or processes he is undertaking. This is where the issue may need to be investigated further. When this becomes out of control, it may be classified as mental illness. It is not a surprise therefore that several clinical techniques aim to declutter the mind and reduce stress. 

So, what makes loud chatting such a cause for concern and why is it not treated as simply an extension of inner talk? Research indicates that talking out loudly actually improves control over a task, more than inner speech. This experiment was analysed over twenty-eight participants who were given a set of written instructions. Concentration levels increased when these were read out loudly. There is also other research which backs this theory, that when we speak out loudly to ourselves, we perform the task at hand better. This can also be seen by the fact that many sports professionals, including tennis players, regularly talk to themselves during competitions. This is done during important moments, so as to ensure better control and focus.

This demonstrates that talking to yourself out loud is not necessarily a bad thing or a sign of mental illness. It could actually be a reaction to indeed perform better and enhance cognitive function. Who would have thought? Talking to yourself can actually make you intellectually enhanced rather than being mentally ill. There seems to be some truth about the cliché of scientists talking to themselves, rather than being mad, they are actually quite intelligent and ensure optimised brainpower.

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